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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Rita - Toe Cleavage [Urashima - 2017]

Toe Cleavage is truly epic, classily packaged, and searingly artful statement of fetish themed noise craft. Over the releases seven tapes this Canadian noise master moves from dense  harsh noise-scaping, onto moody noise-drone work-outs. Through to walled noise raging's, onto perfectly controlled & crafted static noise texturing, and a selection of audio collages  that focusing in on both the distinct kink of  toe cleavage, and general toe, feet , shoe & leg fetish.

This set was released in late 2017 on respected noise & HNW label Urashima- this Italian label has been active since 2009, releasing both stand-alone vinyl releases, and tape/ vinyl box sets. The Toe Cleavage release came in an edition of 99 copies, and as of my writing, the label & many worldwide stockists still have copies of this available.

As I mentioned in my opening this set is classily packaged, and it really is- been one of the most impressive looking noise based releases I’ve seen in some years. The set is presented in undersized LP sized wooden box- this features a slide off front, which takes in a carved illustration of a pair of feet in ballet shoes, showing off their toe cleavage, the projects name & the title of the release, along with the edition number.  Inside the box you first get a hand numbed card featuring the labels logo, after this, we get a sixteen-page black & white booklet- this takes in a selection of toe cleavage pictures. Then we get a small  fold-out color poster, with two more Toe cleavage pictures, a drawing by Sam McKinlay(The Rita), a folded A4 page with a write-up about the releases concept from noise-maker Jason Campbell, and a separate black & white card- featuring the tapes track listing, and more toe cleavage pics. Then under a sheet of grey packing foam, we get the seven tapes- these feature pink shells, & double-sided white text printing.

So let’s move onto the contents of the tapes themselves, and on offer over the release is three & a half hours of sound. With each side of tapes offering up a single fifteen-minute track , and for the most part it's a sonically varied set moving from dense & extreme harsh noise work-outs, fairly untouched dialogue collages- taking in TV show interviews about Toe Cleavage, the right type of ballet shoes, and feet, toe  & shoe related discussion. Onto focused & sculptured static texturing unfolds, through to ear melting & densely focused noise attacks.

The first side of the first tape features the track "Toe Technique 1"- which is a dense & disorientating swirling mass of clamoring & roast bound noise texturing, swaying static sweeps ‘n grates, and strange undefined dialogue samples- which flit & morph at the edges of the track like seared & flickering sonic ghosts. 

On the forth tape we have the track Properly Walking In Pointe shoes 1 & 2. The first sides track opens with a few minutes of dialogue sample of a camp man talking to a women wearing Pointe shoes, and her excising/ walking with them on. When the noise kicks in it’s a dense tunnel of jittering & taut rip ‘n’ roast, with droning & muffled sample mesh of dialogue & dance music- all to create a strange blend of searing intensity, and campy elegant frivolity. The second part opens with a sample of an Irish chat show with the presenter asking the female guest of feet fetishism on the internet, fairly soon we get the addition of a slowly tumbling & rumbling low-end noise gallop. Underneath the sample dialogue carriers on creating this vibe of both intrigue( as you only make out hints of the sample), and nicely controlled textural brutality.

And on the final tape, we have one of the highlights for me with Lingua Ignota Sources 1 & 2. The first sides track starts off a slightly oscillating flow of focused roasting, sways of static hiss, and clamoring sub-tone wash ‘n buffet. As the track progresses McKinlay skillful shifts the flow of first one layer, then the next- always keeping the mixing separation perfectly balanced, all creating this almost 3D like sonic feel that scorches & skillful flows down the stereo channels in a wonderfully unbalancing manner. The 2nd part sees McKinlay creating a cleverly defined sonic landscape- made up of a droning ‘n’ buffeting horizon, clamoring static clouds, and sweeping bands of gritty grey grain sweep. In the tracks second half, a more mournful & moody dense ambient sweep & almost choppy harmonic element can be made out in the tracks flow, and this adds to a surprisingly(but subtly) atmospheric end to the release.

If you’re a fan of The Rita, I'm guessing you already have this, and if not I’d suggest picking it up fairly quickly- as I can’t imagine this will hang around too much longer. If you’ve never heard any of the projects past work- due to the size & the scope of this set, it might be a bit overwhelming. For me, Toe Cleavage is impressive, and clearly a much worked on the sonic statement from Mr. McKinlay that his continues his obsession with both fetishism & noise- and for this release they perfectly blur & blend together, so you often become unsure where the kink ends & the noise begins.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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