Various Artists - La Vierge de Nurembourg [Dot Dot Dot Music - 2013]Here’s quite an impressive package from Dot Dot Dot Music: a black plastic box, containing four 7”s - and apparently tailored to do so. The minimal insert tells you that the four discs (all pressed in red) are the work of Torturing Nurse, The Rita, Safe and Vomir, respectively. The title of the compilation, which roughly translates as ‘the virgin of Nuremberg’, is another name for the iron maiden torture device; though, curiously, nothing else in the release (track titles, for example) makes obvious reference to this.
The first disc (they’re all numbered) is the work of Torturing Nurse, and, like my last encounter with their work, doesn’t do a lot for me. The first side is a wall of noise (without becoming HNW), full of thick churn and feedback squeals; with ‘non-aggressive’ vocals coming in and out. The flip side follows a similar path, but with a more impressively austere atmosphere. Its almost HNW proper, with juddering bass and skree buried within a mass of distortion; this opens out into a more feedback-led section (possibly from a guitar?), which brings the disc to a close.
The second disc belongs to The Rita, and it’s a superb set of three tracks. There’s really not too much to be said about these pieces, other than the fact that they are another sublime element in Sam McKinlay’s discography. All three are possessed by scratchy, low and lower-mid frequency crackle and crunch; twitching and spitting through the speakers. The relative shortness of the tracks makes them somehow more exquisite, but, at the same time, the listener is certainly left wanting more. At one point, there’s a possibility that McKinlay is applying reverb - it’s unclear. It’s either that or a long, extended, low scrape. Regardless, this is more great work from The Rita.
Safe take charge of the third 7”, and present two tracks largely dominated by swirling feedback. The first piece plants arhythmic thumps into the snaking tones, before surging noise and threatening bass drones appear. The flip side begins with more feedback and feedback loops, aided and abetted by possible, heavily distorted, vocals. After a good while, a wall of fizzing, crunchy noise envelopes the sounds; ending with ghostly high-pitched tones creeping around the edges of the track. Its nothing earth-shattering, in my opinion, though there are worst slices of dirty noise.
The last disc sees Vomir spit out some characteristically filthy, deep walls. I probably don’t need to add to that! Both sides pursue a relentless, mid-paced churn; with a myriad of textures and lines to follow. I often feel that one of the defining aspects of Vomir’s work, and public ‘persona’, is his prolificacy; but its worth reminding ourselves about the consistent quality of those numerous releases. Its rare that I hear anything by him that sounds tired or low-par: this is another fine pair of walls from him.
This is a nice set, if somewhat unusual. Its nice because of the smart packaging, and also simply because a four 7” boxset is a very satisfying format. The unusual element is the strange lack of unity, theme or thread, across the ‘compilation’; there really is no sense of why it exists - not that it needs a justification, necessarily, but as it is, it’s merely four discs in a box. Out of those four, for my ears, only Vomir and The Rita truly shine; so most HNW devotees would do well to pick this up. However, ‘La Vierge de Nurembourg’ is an expensive item to grab for those reasons…Martin P