The New Blockaders - Live At Sonic City [Cold Spring Records - 2019]
Live At Sonic City is a two-disc CD and DVD set offering up the final ever live performance from noise terrorists & sonic nihilist The New Blockaders. Both discs feature the same forty-minute performance, which sees the balaclava two-piece making rather splendid & glorious noise chaos- which mostly remains full, all-engulfing & kind of engrossing though-out. The two-disc set is presented a glossy six-panel digipak, this features stills from the performance and snippets of an interview outline the mindset of the project of creating their spontaneous-yet-directed noise performances. The release appears on respected UK Noise/ post-industrial label Cold Spring- so as far as I’m aware this is a relatively unlimited edition.
The New Blockaders started there sonic life in 1982- and consists of Philip Rupenus & Richard Rupenus. The pair set up with the main focus of recreating the themes/ work of both Luigi Russolo and the Futurist movement through newly available electronic equipment and manipulation of junk/ metal elements. Over the years the project has put out around one hundred plus releases, and they are often quoted a major influence on the wider noise genre- though the pair have always attempted to stand apart from the various sub-genres and genre labeling to create their blend of controlled chaos
I’m guessing most folks will enjoy the DVD more, as it obviously presents both the sonics & performance- but for me, the CD was the most satisfying of the two discs - so one can solo focuses on the noise. So, as a result, I’ll discuss this first- ok, so we have here a single forty-minute track, this opens with around two or so minutes of one of the more recognizable of classical music pieces Beethoven’s "Moonlight Sonata". Then the noise kicks-in, and what we have here for most of the pieces runtime is an extremely full & unrelenting example of noise craft. It’s built around a blend of mostly constantly churning junk drone, cluttering & clunking textures- blended with a shifting canvas of rising siren tones, hammer smashes, metal rips drags, and bays. The tonal range of the whole thing remains fairly fixed in its mid-tone focus, though there are darts of lower and higher tones- on a few occasions things pare back a little but these moments are only a few minutes apiece, then we’re back into the chaos again. I’d say you’ll have to enjoy more focused & set junk noise to enjoy this track, as there’s really not a terrible amount of shift or change occurring here- so as a result, I can also see this appealing to those who enjoy denser/ set noise genres like HNW, or drone noise.
The second disc is, of course, the DVD- and here we get a well shot, multiple camera shot footage of the performance. It all begins with one of the project is sitting at a piano wearing a black dress suit and balaclava- he has two claw hammers, and with these he starts attacking the keys- smashing, pulling and ripping at them- over this we get the sample of "Moonlight Sonata". When the sample ends, and the noise begins the camera pans back and we see on stage the pair- both suited and balaclava- with a cement mixer, table of metal junk, pedals and a junk playing turntable. Though-out the performances the pair move around using junk elements, the mixer, and attacking the piano with both the hammers and saws. In all it’s well filmed and present, and makes for a good watch- I just prefer the pure sonic focus of the CD.
It’s great to see Cold Spring putting out a no-nonsense and brutal noise release like Live At Sonic City- if your into thicker, more focused and unrelenting harsh noise, I’d say this most certainly a no-brainer.Roger Batty