Russell Haswell - Digital [Editions Mego - 2020]
Traditionally, people receive gifts in celebration of their birthdays. Russell Haswell decided to give for his 50th, and he did so with nine noisy tracks of electronic elicitations. Coming through Editions Mego, this is available both digitally and on 2x vinyl, with the extra 12" having exclusive tracks. This noise forward release is a fantastic celebration of life, and Mego and Haswell put it forth in a nice physical release.
Delightully diverse, the nine tracks on the main release run the gamut from high to low, and free form to beat driven. It's no surprise that someone having invested 20+ years in the game would have such a wide palette to paint from, and Russell uses it to his fullest. Starting off on a low, heavy, spaceship engine-y "Ambient Takedown," the gravity of this release is put on the forefront. The grim and spooky approach is short lived, but it certainly leaves its mark. "r-809" raises the pitch, speed, and attitude quite a bit, and this random feeling, blippy electro number expands on the chaos that was hidden behind the machinery on the opener. This one has quite the opportunity to grow and change in its nearly ten minute run time, and like a wild animal, it greatly benefits from the freedom. With the first two songs, Russell sets the parameters for what's to fall on this release, and lets the electrons draw their own charts. On first listen, the deeper, darker, brooding numbers stand out, however, the high, chaotic pieces earn more appreciation upon subsequent spins. However, being the minority on the album, the gloom acts more as a reference point for more frantic compositions. Sometimes sounding like Bastard Noise and other times like Winterkalte, Russell Haswell put out a record that refuses to be defined or play by the rules. This leads to an interesting and disjointed listening session, and that keeps the listener from being complacent. When active, more elements come to the fore and the experience is elevated.
Based on improvisation, Russell's approach seems to be that of an electronic lion tamer - let the machine run, corral it, and don't let it get out of control. This shows teamwork between artist and medium, and proves that working together is the best way to create absolutely anything. Also available in a digital format, this LP & 12" set from Editions Mego shows a noiser having a great time experimenting with sound, texture, and tempo.Paul Casey