Arbiter – Radiating Panic Source MC Fieldwork 2016
H.C.O.D. – Instruments Of Destiny MC Fieldwork 2016
From its launch in 2013 this US tape label was quite active through to 2014 managing 11 releases in that time. Although 2015 revealed no new releases a batch of 3 new tapes have emerged in 2016, with 2 being reviewed below (…the third tape is a split between Swedish projects Alfarmania and Treriksroset in support of their US shows in 2016).
Two years on from the 2 track ‘Negatively-Existent Cell’ (reviewed here), Arbiter have returned with a new tape ‘Radiating Panic Source’ which features 6 tracks (3 per side) and about 30 minutes of material. Again drawing clear parallels with a northern european post-industrial ‘post-mortem’ sound, Arbiter excel with their strong focus on composition to create short ‘song-like’ tracks. Analog grit and bass addled rumble forms the staple building blocks, with a further myriad of erupting sonic fissures and idling factory machinery for added complexity. The opening title sets the scene perfectly with intertwining cyclic layers and a sense of cavernous depth, while the first track on the second side (‘Punitive Measures Guise’), is another standout with its distant oscillating resonances, forceful siren like alarm wails and distant industrial wasteland aesthetic. Fantastic.
With the next tape I am not at all familiar with H.C.O.D. (short for Hideous Colors Of Decay), but they do fit perfectly within the sonic and visual aesthetic of Fieldwork. After 3 tapes issues in 2013 and 2014, ‘Instruments Of Destiny’ appears to be formal full length album, with 7 tracks spanning around 60 minutes. Although clearly within the same general sonic dimension as Arbiter, H.C.O.D’s approach is far more sprawling is scope and is a hotbed of caustic industrialized noise which bleeds out over greater length. Caked in sonic soot, the tone is one of analog filth where the tracks work on a dual level involving sustained cavernous widescreen bass rumble over which mid-toned squall, higher pitched ‘whistling’ feedback and junk metal crunch is belched. ‘Will to Oppression’ provides some variance with its centrally featured echo tinged and half chanted vocals, as does ‘Mutilated Victory’ with its garbled and undecipherable dialogue sample. Perhaps with its more singular overall approach, H.C.O.D.’s cassette is something akin to a marathon crawl through a post-industrial dystopian nightmare of wrack and ruin.
As with all other Fieldwork releases, the packaging is noteworthy based on their pro-printed and grimly designed J-cards, where the Arbiter tape it includes a mini-foldout poster and outer cardboard slipcase. Although both tapes are excellent examples of their chosen stylistic slant, Arbiter is my personal pick due to its focused and direct approach.