Ochu – Unproduktiw LP Verlautbarung 2018
Ochu is the solo project of Swede Love Rosenström, and while he has been recording as Ochu since the early 2000’s I am only familiar with recent output (although I then have a vague appreciation that his current material has elevated experimentation and dialled down slightly on a harsher noise and heavier industrial aesthetic).
With the current approach based on meticulous layering and blending of textural sonic detail, Ochu’s material in highly animated and sonically nuanced. Likewise, by avoiding any semblance of stuffy academic experimental music, there is clear force and intent at play where the results are engaging and above all vital. Much of the assembled sonic content appears to have been generated from field recording or contact mic based recording sessions, but those inputs have been further manipulated and abstracted to achieve textural density and complexity. The opening track Struisvogelpolitiek is a great example of this, with tonally load creaking wood and metal, where the ‘micro-tonal’ recordings have been elevated to a loud and overblown tone which bridges the organic and the mechanical. Humos De Existencia Estática is a slow burn of a composition, where a jagged yet muted loop is overtaken by an invasive and incessant drone which fractures and multiplies in intensity, while the other rough echoed loops are used for vague ‘train carriage on tracks’ rhythmic effect.
Förnuftsflimmer (Partiellt Anfall) opens Side B are draws out a minimalist ritualised pulse which is blended with a series of forceful mechanical drones, while further micro-tonal textures are elevated to the forefront of the mix. Contra-tasking functions as a short interlude of a fractured grinding loop, which is followed by the lengthy track Segments of Destination concludes the album. Commencing with a spacious mix and again with a focus on micro-sonic detailing (i.e. rocks, wood, metal), the various elements amalgamate into loosely elevating loops, as a deep, muted bass rumble elevates with storm-front intensity. Yet clear restraint is still employed, as rather than building the track an overblown climax, the storm-front passes by and gradually recedes into concluding oblivion.
In both the sound, style and graphic presentation Unproduktiw clearly side stepped any of the typical clichés which could be levelled at the post-industrial underground, and is an album of passion and dedication to a personal sonic craft. Clearly bridging the gap between musique concrete experimentation and roughly hewn post-industrial soundscapes, Unproduktiw is a clever and expertly executed release. Recommended.
N. – Unworthy 10”EP Cipher Productions 2018
Although N. has issued numerous releases since their 1997 debut on the cult Italian label Slaughter Productions, I am only familiar with the cassette box-set from 1998 (also issues on Slaughter Productions), and the 2017 reissue of Hospital Murders tape (originally issued in 2004). However, it can be generally surmised that N. is concerned with showcasing minimalist death industrial/ power electronics in the same or similar vein to other Italian masters of the genre.
The first side of the vinyl features three short tracks. Unworthy Situation delivers muted static, low end rumble and general sonic crunch, which continues into Images Hunter yet features a wonky organ melody that bleeds into the mix. Relapse, the third track on Side A is far more direct, with forceful choppy pulsations, grim oscillations and forced static washes. Side B delivers a single lengthy track Into Psychosis and is more direct and less experimental that the first side, and all the better for it. Based on dank, rumbling, lofi death industrial pulsations, it emulates the fractured idling of an unidentified machine of ill purpose. Minimalist but layered, the sound is thick and pulsing with a barely discernible medical related dialogue sample within the sonic mass. Clipped atonal rhythms feature (looped door creaking/ closing samples?), as do other background panning textures gradual elevate in prominence.
Like many of the releases issued on Cipher Productions there is a home-made DIY art aesthetic at play, where this is limited to a mere 100 copies features and with a cover which is effectively folded and screen-printed cloth with insert. It almost goes without saying that the pristine white cloth and lurid orange colour of the screen-printing image belies the dank, suffocating and lofi atmospheres pressed into the vinyl. A quality release of stasis and non-movement from this long-standing Italian project.
Victorine Meurent – Even Less Of The Harmony Of Maine MC Found Remains 2019
Victorine Meurent are an Australia project, which I understand is the solo project of the individual behind the Vienna Press cassette label. This would appear to be the third release from the project. As for an initial observation, one of the track titles provides a nod to American abstract expressionism, which itself perhaps gives an indication of the experimental end, rather than post-industrial end of the sonic spectrum. Four tracks of a minimalist experimental ambient type spans around 26 minutes.
With reference to opening track Untitled 9, sustained, yet muted and minimalist melodies are delivered at catatonic pace and function for abstracted and meditative effect. Likewise when field recordings sporadically appear, it pushes the sound into musique concrète territory (refer to Untitled (Betty Parsons Gallery as an example). Likewise, towards the end of Here, Not There references the Australian suburbs, where the field recordings of bird calls and sparse street noise is distinctly recognisable from my own childhood experiences of growing up in the ‘burbs’. Untitled 8 rounds out the tape, and while utilizing the same droning sonic and melodic spectrum, there is an ever so slight increase in compositional urgency.
Being a slight deviation from typical fare reviewed via Noise Receptor Journal, this is artistically evocative, and showcases what can be achieved with mood and atmosphere from the most minimalist of compositional elements.
Desiderii Marginis – Vita Arkivet LP Cyclic Law 2018
When Desiderii Marginis first emerged in 1997 with the debut CD on Cold Meat Industry, the project was a young upstart to the slightly more established raision d’etre. In fast forwarding 22 years, both projects are still active and continue to carve their own particular niche within the broader sacral infused dark ambient field, while each maintain their respective positions at the top of the genre. With Vita Arkivet, it is billed as a mini-album and is therefore far more compact and to the point than 2014 sprawling double album Hypnosis. Five tracks span just over 40 minutes, but as is typical of this music they function as flowing movements thereby allowing for meditative and immersive impact.
To then perhaps explain why raison d’etre is mentioned in the introduction, an immediate observation to be made of this new release has chosen to use prominent chanted male Gregorian vocals on the first two tracks, which is an element which raison d’etre adopted as a strong trademark of sorts early in their career. Here the slightly echo treated sacral male chants are used in context of the album’s theme (i.e. symbolism relating to the loss of ‘self’ in death) and provide a heavily melancholic mood. These vocals blend perfectly with the characteristic and established style of Desiderii Marginis, being that of lush and forlorn sub-orchestral melodies blended seamlessly with deep ringing bells and undercurrent drones. In noting the format of slow morphing dark ambient movements, some sharper and grating sonic elements are sparingly injected for tensile and evocative impact. Thus, while earlier works from the project have certainly had a heavily dark streak, Vita Arkivet manages to evoke a direct, darker and more haunted visage than normal.
Without question Johan Levin displays masterful control and restraint in composition, and when this results in material as strong as is displayed here it certainly cause for celebration. An excellent release which has been on constant rotation over recent months. Issued on multiple formats, including vinyl, CD and digital, but the vinyl is particularly clean and striking in presentation.