Various Artists - La Gamme du Vide [Cioran Records - 2018]
This compilation, themed around pessimism and nihilism, arrives courtesy of Cioran Records, named after Emil Cioran, the Romanian philosopher of pessimism and nihilism. It features ten tracks, amounting to 72 minutes of music. These sounds draw on harsh noise wall, power electronics, harsh noise, and more droney-y soundscape-esque elements, and the album is predominantly, decidedly noisy - even the power electronics contributions are based around scourging, blown-out noise rather than, say, synth loops. The tracks come from a mixed bag of names new to me and projects more widely known - most notably Vomir.
Stase:Orgone are up first, with some blown out PE, swathes of noise eventually dissipating to reveal junk noise, pad-like synths and moaning vocal sounds. The second track comes from Un Regard Froid, a name I’ve seen praised, and again it’s noisy PE, with grating synth rhythms disrupted by distorted percussion and echoing vocals. Vomir is up next, and it’s Vomir - did you expect something different? As usual, its a densely layered wall of thick noise textures, with a nice subtle slow stutter. ‘Va Te Pendre’ by Macadam Charogne follows Vomir, and it’s largely different shades of noise textures, punctuated by bursts of feedback; there’s something slightly ‘digital’ about it, which I can’t put my finger on, and my first listen didn’t leave me in awe, but with repeated visits I’ve really enjoyed the first half (and the second half in the sections where the electronics are less intrusive) as a skilled and enthralling exploration of harsh noise. The Processus presents us two tracks of drum machine powered noisecore (?) next, with battering drilling rhythms and buried synths, all finished off with saturated screaming vocals; this is all filed under ‘not my cup of tea’ but I think adventurous people into the far reaches of grindcore would get a kick out of this. Ploughing a different furrow, Viande à Viol’s ‘Trois Fois Rien et Rien De Tes Morts’ is a compelling piece of wall noise quite possibly constructed out of radio static and sounds; fizzing and raw, with clear layers, its a very engaging and impressive track. Ouro then deliver an equally fine contribution, with echoing percussion and sounds buried in bass drones that threaten to blow out; the track is essential static, gathering dread and tension through a future explosion that never arrives. Opasse then push this further, with a droning track that reminds me of the Isolationism compilation; long resonant notes, buzzing in glacial reverb, underpinned by bass swells. The final work on the album, ‘Sur les Cimes du Styx’ by Camecrude, is another (essentially) droning track, but this time it’s founded on folk-sounding instruments: wailing woodwinds of some description, and a buzzing string instrument, again of some description. These are both aided by pads of ambient textures, and a soundtrack sensibility that places the piece on the outskirts of neofolk; it doesn’t floor me, but it brings the compilation to an effective close.
La Gamme du Vide is a neatly coherent compilation, with a good sense of narrative as the tracks unfold. It’s a surprisingly ‘pleasant’ listen and not one where I’m compelled to skip lesser tracks. There’s perhaps no obvious stand out pieces, but the unorthodox harsh noise textures of Macadam Charogne and Viande à Viol are both superlative. A very recommendable compilation.Martin P