White Noise, Pink Noise and New Age Power Electronics
It's probably a sign of the times that much of the most interesting music being made right now is so extreme. It's getting dark and only noise seems to make sense. This is fine as far as it goes but it only goes so far. Here, then, are some proposed escape routes from the cul-de-sac of dark noise.
Russell Haswell is certainly a dude with spotlessly dark credentials; a fan of black metal and Whitehouse. And yet, there's something else happening on his latest double LP, Second Live Salvage. First of all, Haswell takes an restlessly cerebral approach to his noise. These visceral sound-art erruptions are powered entirely by high-end, academic computer music software.
The other interesting thing about Second Live Salvage is that it's a collection of live recordings sourced from audience members. The official-bootleg concept takes Haswell's music away from it's digital source and puts it in a room. This only adds to the elemental power of his mind-bending noise constructions. Second Live Salvage is viciously intelligent.
It also has a great cover, which is possibly a pastiche of Keith Jarrett's new age jazz classic The Koln Concert.
Talking of great album covers, John Wiese's Soft Punk has some of the best packaging in quite some time: a wall of pink Marshall amps on the cover and a slab of marbled pink vinyl on the inside. You've got to love Wiese, the cat who famously guested with Sunn0))), sitting upright in an open coffin, laptop in lap.
Like Haswell, Wiese's noise is distinctly digital but - by contrast - there's very little darkness on display here. Soft Punk is extremely harsh-sounding but it's also relentlessly good-humoured, recalling nothing so much as Kid 606's Down with the Scene (complete with sampled drumstick clicks). Approximately, ten tonnes of fun.
Less heavy but just as effective in its combination of digital noise and good vibes is Astral Social Club's Model Town in Field of Mud. It's been described as a mixture of free-folk with Villalobos-style minimal techno and - while that may be a little fanciful - it's certainly good to see someone from the new weird noise underground (ASC's Neil Campbell is an ex-member of Vibracathedral Orchestra) taking an interest in electronica.
Actually, to these ears, what Model Town's combination of digital noise and acoustic picking really recalls is connect_icut's LA (An Apology). Which is possibly why I like it so much.