Bosses Hang/ VA - Once in a lifetime [4iB Records - 2021]
Crossbreeds between noise and more formal music are always difficult propositions- either the noise elements are secondary, feeling like an afterthought. Or the noise elements overwhelm/ unbalance the musical elements- it’s very difficult to get the perfect blend between the two, and more often than not releases that try to do this cross-blending fail or at least come away feeling somewhat disappointed. Once in a lifetime is one of the better/ more rewarding examples of noise/ music crossbreeding- though unfortunately, this sprawling double album does sometimes fall into either of the mentioned problematic camps.
The release appears on Singapore based 4iB Records, which has a good track record at releasing more carouse/ distinctive noise-based fare. The release comes in the form of a double CD set- this is presented a grey fold-out gatefold, which features a nice blend of moody pictures and simple photo collage. Also featured is an inlay booklet- featuring pictures of each collaborator and grim medieval prints. It’s ltd to 300 copies, and I can imagine these go fairly fast due to known noise names connected to the release like Vomir( why I wanted to check this out), Government Alpha, Torturing Nurse, and Astro.
At the centre of this release/ featured on every track is Bosses Hang- aka Romania’s Raul Starcz, who offers up the more musical elements here- with these moving between dramatic mood-scaping, post-industrial sound scaping, spaced-out to- jazzy improv, searing rock jamming, doomed out rock, etc. As far as I can gather the Bosses Hang has been active as a project since 2018- with it’s work mainly focusing on collabs with other.
Over the two-disc, we find a total of ten tracks- and these have runtimes between four and twenty-three minutes, though as you’d expect mostly the tracks are at the more length side of things. On the whole, the two CD’s together offering up a rather varied record- at points, it does slightly lack its own identity when the collaborators sound bleeds and burns in too much, but it’s a largely eventful and entertaining cross breed album.
On the positive/ worth side of things- We kick off with “All The Power To The People, I Will Die For Something Which Is Still Nothing In The End”( all the tracks have these overblown/ at points pretentious titles)- this track finds Starcz collaborating with two noise acts- Shanghai-based Torturing Nurse and Japans Government Alpha- as the track musical focuses we have this bounding and brooding mix of synth bass lines, grim higher-pitched harmonics, and dramatic drum fills- around this the noisemakers build searing and rewarding detail, with the focus sometimes nicely drifting to more noise bound texturing/ dwelling- through the musical elements are never far away. There's “What Will You Do At The End Of The World? Are You Busy? Will You Save Us? (Reprise)” which features Government Alpha and the project adds really nice selection of simmer-to-shredding noise tones to Starcz lumbering and doomed out guitar and smash/ crashing drum work. Or the albums finale track "Death Is Not The Ending, It Is Just A Reasonable Conclusion To Another Average Story"- finds a wondering blend of doomed blue rock work out, hazed by a nasty Vomir sear and baying and wailing female vocals by Junko
On the less effective/focused side we have lose jazz guitar improv meets wondering harsh noise of "I Am Intoxicated With The Ashes Of A Long Gone Past, But I Am Still Breathing” which finds Starcz collaborating with Torturing Nurse. Or “Throne Of Blood And The Ballad Of A Thousand Crying Sparrows” which features Astro and Vomir, this opens with a sort of wondering and laid back semi- country fed psych-rock jamming- sadly the musical elements start to slip/ slide and become messy the deeper in you go, and unfortunately, neither noise collaborator is really adding anything too interesting.
In conclusion Once in a lifetime is certainly an interesting experiment at blending/ blurring noise and atmospheric music fare- not all of it works, and at points, the double album format does feel too sprawling/ unfocused. But if you enjoy where noise and music meet, it’s certainly something I think you find worth/ enjoyment from.Roger Batty