Various Artists - South Of Hebburn [Psychic Field Recordings - 2013]“South Of Hebburn” is a compilation of horror ‘n’ dread fed noise and drone projects from the North East of the Uk. The CDR offers up a track a piece from five different acts, and as compilations goes this is rather consistent & rewarding through-out, where more known & respected names like Culver sit along side lesser known acts like the wonderfully named Transylvania Sex Pest.
The plain unlabeled CDR comes in a see-through plastic slip sleeve. It features a double sided PC printed colour sleeve that takes in a picture of the grave yard on the front, and on the back cover a moody/ slight hazed photograph of a night–time city.
Each of the five tracks runs between just under the eight minute mark, to just around the twenty two minute mark. And there’s a fairly nice & even mix between more noisy yet still moody fair, and more drifting/ unsettling ambience through-out the compilation.
First up we have got a just under eight minute track from Victor Janos, which is entitled “Medical Debris”. This is a solo project from one of the members of retro electronic & horror curdled drone/ noise collective The Dead End Street Band, and as far as I can gather this is the first released track from this project. The piece mixers together a fixed buzzing ‘n’ spidery rumbling motor texture, with this looped ‘n’ buried gothic tinged wavering organ melody. The whole thing has a subtle grim & lo-fi feel to it, and to me it brought to mind aged monochrome film footage of strange faceless processing carrying a life-less & mutilated body through a dank ‘n’ dusty underground crypt passage way.
Track two comes in the form of the just fourteen & a half mintues of “Blazing Edge Of The Sun(Darkside remix). This track comes from Joseph Curwen, which is another solo project of one of the members of The Dead End Street Band- this project focus in on more lengthy & foreboding drone/ ambient work-outs. The track opens up with an effective if fairly ordinary sounding sweeping ‘n’ simmering ambient drone, but as the track progresses this gets more stretched, washed-out, and slurred with this subtle creepy feeling slowly rising in the track. A few weeks back I reviewed one of this projects full length releases Daemoniac Heights; and I felt that album rather lacked depth of compelling & chilling atmospherics- the track on offer here is a lot more effective as it creates this effective feeling of slowly enclosing dread & hopeless-ness.
Next up we have the Transylvanian Sex Pest track which is entitled “From The Tower Of 6 Wizards, and it’s the longest track here at just under the twenty two minute mark. The piece brings together a lose yet unsettling mixture of: slowly thumb 'n' doomed guitar or bass fluctuation, creepy jittering electronics, old school effects pedal reverb ‘n’ feedback bays, buried tinkling ‘n’ creepy muzak, and genreal sonic unsettlement. The whole track creates a rather effectively haphazard, lo-fi, and retro tinged feeling of slowly uncovering horror with it’s nightmarish sonic jam-scapes. This project pulls it’s members from the Newcastle & Gateshead area, and is seemingly a fairly large collective (going from the member listing on their face book page) that started in 2012.
Next we have a track from the most known project on this compilation Culver- the Tyneside based unsettling noisy drone project of Lee Stokoe(Skullflower, Inseminoid, Halalchemists), which has been releasing dread filled & disturbing sonic fair since the mid 1990’s. The just under thirteen minute track on offer here is entitled “SAPS '76”, and it finds the project offer up a fairly typical( though no less effective) mix of locked down eerier music box like guitar harmonics, and simmering/ amassed creepy & dread filled noise matter.
Topping off the compilation we have a track from The Dead End Street Band, and this just under seventeen & a half minute track is entitled “The Lost Tapes”. This track really mangers to capture wonderfully the feeling of growing late 70’s or early 80’s video nasty dread ‘n’ terror- it opens with a slowly yet repetitive low-end retro snyth plod, then the collective slowly but surely added on more & more layers of frying, simmer, squelching & flesh melting retro electo tone. This track would make such a great soundtrack to footage of slowly plodding surreal looking zombies, and gooey slow motion ‘n’ grimly psychedelic tinged human body melting’s.
Most of the time compilations are very hit ‘n’ miss affairs, that are often mixed in both their focus & quality- but “South Of Hebburn” is pretty much rewarding, consistent & blanced through-out. The release appeared back in late 2013 in a edition of 24 copies- so I’m not sure if you can still get hold of this, but it's well worth tracking down if you enjoy creepy & horror filled noise & drone matter.Roger Batty