Hunting Lodge – Will (Dais, May 2015)

Will by Hunting Lodge is many things: an invitation to explore the edgier shores of the American underground and a pitch-black, pull-me-apart-and-feed-me-to-the-dogs listen that contains the first seed of what went on to become the label, concept and hub known as S/M Operations. Most of all this reissue through Dais is the first chance we’ve been given to hear the record as it was meant to be. The original Will is awash with white noise and skew-whiff levels of mixing as Hunting Lodge’s young Lon C. Diehl and Richard Skott naively, but uncompromisingly, took to the mastering process themselves in 1983.

But refusals to compromise always pay back, sooner or later. Hunting Lodge’s third opus is a threatening, ice-cold masterpiece of radical industrial music which still has a few lessons to teach and a lot of pleasure to give. A tidal wave of impossibly jagged rhythms, metallic throaty drones, bangs and clangs in abandoned factories and distorted voices from afar, Will is a perfect synthesis of the various veins that run through Diehl and Skott’s brief but industrious musical career. Some three decades on, Will sounds like an accomplished monument to the brutal yet melancholy side of American industrial. The album is noisy in a haunting way, rabid and unrelentlessly bleak, but it is also thoughtful. Listening to this loud and not in the company of others has been one of the best evenings May has granted us.

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Ford Proco / Coil – Expansión Naranja (Mannequin, June 2015)

Mannequin’s high summer offering is the reissue of two special collaborations between Mexican industrial-IDM masters Ford Proco and Coil, recorded in 1999 and previously only available on CD on Ford Proco’s own Vertigo de Lodo y de Miel. Apart from the archival interest the tracks will obviously garner from Coil fans, what we have here is two colourful pieces in their own right, an inspired combination of Coil’s nocturnal ways with the muscular, noisier shores of Ford Proco’s rich breed of harsh but considered industrial.

“Expansión Naranja” is fast, angular, tormented – rusty, noisy washes give way like butter to Peter Christopherson’s languid saxophone, surrounded by ghostly, complex drum patterns, which constantly mess with the listener. The second piece, “Ecuación de las Estrellas”, proceeds through echoed loops and sharp beats, as if walking heavy-footed through a lunar landscape. In spite of clocking up under 15 minutes, the two tracks are a journey – through planets, through forests, through throbbing empty warehouses. John Balance mumbles something in the background every now and again, like some sort of guide: he tells us to do drugs, he tells us that it’s not true that experience is the only thing that counts… considerations. Just enough to remind us that we’re in the depth of a Coil record looking at the stars.

M.B. (Maurizio Bianchi) – Symphony for a Genocide (EEs’T Records, August 2015)

Maurizio Bianchi self-reissues 10 of his 1980s works on CD (again), which you can buy either singularly or as a Mectpyo (read Mestruo) ‘Box’. Not knowing where to start, I’ve chosen the cream: Symphony for a Genocide is a monument, and if you haven’t gone to pray – or cry – at that altar then maybe now is the time. Bianchi’s famed LP initially put out by Nocturnal Emissions’s Sterile Records in 1981 is a brutal, desolate, awful meander through tracks named after Nazi extermination camps. Plunging the listener in an excruciating sadness, Bianchi masterfully joins the dots between the organic and the synthesised without having to demonstrate anything other than what he can honestly bring as an artist – and in retrospect, he brought a lot.

The record moves between rough, buzzing lo-fi textures and steely electronic coughs, with a slowness, a sternness, which is horrifying and extremely moving – moments of white fuzz alternate with moments of excruciating industrial bleeps twisted, deformed and deforming. Sometimes, through the valleys of pulsating noise something like a melody emerges, always in the form of a downwards whimper. Other times, the metallic swarm is interrupted by rattling power electronics, which seem to unravel, like some sort of breaking machine coming apart behind the trembling drones. Voices are muffled, mnemonic disembodied voices through the iron-hard hiss. It’s distressing and powerful, but it’s also a few other things: Symphony for a Genocide is a record without cruelty, carried only a disarming and desolate pain. You could even call it a ‘quiet’ noise record: it gathers its harshness not through violence but through a frozen sadness, and its effect is that of an anaesthetic.

 

Whitehouse – Halogen (Dirter, September 2015)

There are records which need to get reissued every now and again to check how they go down in the world, how things change. Whitehouse’s Halogen is seen by lovers of the genre as a milestone of extreme and ‘horrible’ British electronics, for its form and for its content, and it should of course be enjoyed unbearably loud. The album came out fifteen years into the band’s career in 1994, and I believe now is a good time to hear it again because it actually sounds a lot more careful, a lot more precisely crafted than it might have in the past. It also sounds – dare I say – rather mellow, or in fact rather melancholy, devoted to fuzzy, awful (in the best of senses), brutal affairs which nevermind how extreme and terrible they are, are also clearly expressions of a thoughtful rage.

This record now sounds committed to a cause; there’s something of a proto-political raison d’être (yes, even behind “Lighting Struck My Dick”), a willingness to hurt, shock, harm, set on fire which sounds rather calculated, rather pregnant, and above all very serious. Halogen now sounds uncompromising for a reason; not for some kind of boyish fun, but the fuzz, the screams, the highest of high frequencies, the swearing, the horror, the lot. If you can get over the ring in your ear, Halogen in 2015 provides you with an insightful kick from the past. It reminds you of the punk ideology that hurts, that matters, that will exhaust you and make you think about the present. Then you’ll either smash something up or cry. And that’ll teach you a lesson.