Kjostad – Environment Electronics

Kjostad – Environment Electronics CD Found Remains 2020

Environment Electronics was first issued by Found Remains on cassette in 2018 (reviewed here). Now it has been reissued on CD with updated artwork, along with two additional tracks and subjected to remastering treatment by Grant Richardson (Gnawed) for good measure.

The original tape version of Environment Electronics featured six tracks intent on blurring the line between environmental field recordings and man-made elements, self-described on the cover as ‘exercises in electronic-organic synthesis’. The original tracks span a variety of sonic textures and approaches including elongated and abstracted drone minimalism, light washes of static counterpointed with bird song, and a general underpinning of bass rumble and mid-spectrum static. Of the extra tracks on the CD, first bonus track Regression was originally issued on the 2019 Found Remains tape compilation Through A Glass Darkly and, based on the micro-tonal detailing, it sounds to be mostly the sonic result of a night-time forest walk complete with insect noise and bird calls. The means by which the sounds have been captured and processed is unclear, but they sound amplified and hyper-real in tonality. The middle of the track evolves into more mechanized territory with a series of intertwining elevating loops and panning static rumble. The second bonus track, Arrowhead Killer, is an abrasive cut of ‘upfront’ and detailed junk metal tones and overblown sonic textures put alongside other naturally-toned sound elements. With its careful looping and layering of elements, it makes for sonically complex and engaging listening.

The careful balancing of organic and man-made tonal elements here maintains an industrial noise rather than academic ‘sound art’ approach. The newly remastered sonics pleasingly elevate the sound to greater heights and, with the bonus tracks and new artwork, this a welcome reissue and expansion of the limited original tape.

Himukalt – Vulgar

Himukalt – Vulgar CD Found Remains 2020

By way of background, in 2018 Found Remains released Himukalt’s fifth release, Come October, on cassette in a limited run of 100 (reviewed here), and a year later reissued it on CD. In 2020, Found Remains have turned their attention to another earlier Himukalt release for the reissue treatment: fourth cassette, Vulgar, which was originally released in 2018 via No Rent Records. For this version, two bonus tracks have been added to the original eight tracks, and remastered by Grant Richardson (Gnawed), which makes for an extremely impactful result balancing sonic clarity with ample tonal filth.

Although this is one of the early releases from Himukalt, it is intriguing that the project appeared ‘fully formed’ in 2016 and – rather than showing ‘improvement’ or ‘refinement’ over subsequent releases – it has been more of a case of variations on a composed, razor-sharp approach to industrial noise / power electronics. This is very much the case with Vulgar. The eight original tracks are broadly framed around erupting fissures of analogue muck, pulsing atonal synth textures, roughly oscillating ‘conveyor belt’ loops, and misfiring drum machine ‘beats’. Such elements have then been hewn into a selection of equally brooding yet punishing compositions, where vocals and dialogue samples sporadically break through the sonic muck, yet for the most part are unintelligible or only partly detectable. Of the bonus tracks on the CD, Not In This Body was originally issued on the 2019 Found Remains tape compilation, and is slightly more tonally ferocious than the material that precedes it. Featuring a droning and sonically stalking aesthetic, tension builds before sporadically erupting with pulsing bass hewn malice. The final track Want You To See Me (The Voyeur Tapes #15) is by far the longest track at over 16 minutes – twice as long as the longest track of the main collection. The track unfurls in a traditional pulsing death industrial style, with a consistent bass thumping pulse, while mid-tone drones interweave in a sonically invasive fashion, and become increasingly unhinged as the track proceeds.

The original tape version featured non-existent black artwork, but this reissue comes with a 16-page booklet featuring evocative collage artwork by the artist. The quality of the printing and weight of the card stock is also noteworthy, creating a solid tactile presentation that perfectly suits the fetishization of physical media in an era blighted by the instant gratification of media streaming. The liner notes are also an intriguing addition which provide further detail about both source material and inspiration. Recommended.

Victorine Meurent ‎– Even Less Of The Harmony Of Maine

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.

Remnants ‎– Vacant Corridor

Remnants Vacant Corridor MC Found Remains 2019

Remnants are a project I am unfamiliar with, but is a solo project of Ryan Marino who has issued over a dozen releases issued since 2010. While I am not sure how this latest release it compares to earlier output, this is a pro-printed cassette mini-album which features four tracks over 28 minutes.

Being an exercise in minimalist abstracted noise, Vacant Corridor delivers four tracks muted widescreen soundscapes with a forlorn, grey hued and nostalgic atmosphere. Vacant Corridor I displays this aesthetic and in being dour more than overtly dark in mood, the feel is of quiet contemplation. An archaic atmosphere is then implied through the title The Drawing Room, Autumn, 1918, and evoked a series of layered minimal loops deliver shimmering, creaking and crackling textures which ebb and flow throughout, while late in the track a muted melody makes an appearance, which itself seems to bend and warp out of time (akin to a stretched reel to reel tape being played). Vacant Corridor II brings more dusty (and dusky) drones, creaking doors and general haunted muted urban resonances. Into Memory (Stalker) is the final track, where I assume the title is a nod to Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film Stalker. With a continuation of the grey hued and archaic tinged atmosphere, muffled echo holds equal position to distant melodic elements including abstracted synth washes, semi-buried sporadic piano chords and late track sparse guitar melody.

Delivering equal parts moody and mysterious (and coupled with an undercurrent seemingly implying existential dread), Vacant Corridor is a subtle but sonically nuanced release. Likewise by effectively replicating the atmosphere and visual aesthetic of Stalker in musical form, makes for a very worthwhile listening experience.

Found Remains tape batch 2018

…newly found remains…

Found Remains are a relatively new American label, launched in 2016 and having issued six cassettes in that time. Armed with a tag line of “An electronic label adhering to the shadows of thought and sound” it clearly alludes to stylistic diversity within their catalogue, where following below are reviews of two of the recent June 2018 batch.


Kjostad – Environment Electronics MC Found Remains 2018

It should be apparent to long term readers of Noise Receptor Journal that harsh noise does not really feature in my listening preferences, and while the publication title includes the word ‘noise’ that functions more as a play on words (but the full explanation of that wordplay is not warranted here). Yet in this context I am aware that Kjostad is a project of Stefan Aune, who is also of the harsh noise project Breaking The Will, which for reasons outlined above I know by name only. However with Kjostad, it would seem that Stefan is intent on blurring the line between environmental derived sounds (aka field recordings) and man-made elements. In effect the title of Environment Electronics is a perfect synopsis of intent and approach. Track titles such as Granite Canyon Falls, Birdsong 1# and Amplified Forest gives a clear indication of originating sound sources detectable within the sonic tapestry, which are further manipulated through studio sonic treatments.

Granite Canyon Falls functions as a short opening cut, while the lengthy following piece Lake Day is an exercise in elongated and abstracted drone minimalism (is that perhaps the low hum of a boat engine?), while light washes of static merge and counterpoint singing birds, before a minimalist ‘crunch and rumble’ workout draws central focus. Boreal (Cutting into the Roots of the Timber) has a deft organic tone to the muddied sonic minimalism which gradually builds intensity with a series of scrabbling looped textures. Birdsong 1# functions blends the obvious bird calls with light metallic ‘clicking’ loops and minimalist static, while final track Amplified Forest spans close to 10 minutes, and is the most animated composition. Featuring bass rumble and mid spectrum static through which bird songs on occasional can be detected, there is a controlled choppiness to proceedings which at times verges towards the unhinged, but also stopping well short of a full noise attack.

From concept to execution this is extremely well-done tape, which carefully balances the organic and man-made tonal elements, and although clearly field recording derived Environment Electronics is far from an academic exercise, given the end result sits well towards an industrial noise approach.


C.L. Lobbestael Particle Dissolution MC Found Remains 2018

This is the first release I have heard from Cody (aka C.L. Lobbestael), where based on this EP the produced music is of an evocative and understated cinematic ambient type, which is effectively subtle synth exploration of melody and mood.

Like the cold and clinical nighttime image of a city skyscrapers which adorns the cover, a distant and forlorn melancholia permeates the tape, where abstracted orchestral toned and minor keyed melodies evoke late hours melancholia which comes from urban desolation. With a strongly filmic sonic aura of swelling grey tones bleeding off into the blackness of the murky horizon, the atmosphere across the 4 tracks and 28 minutes is consistently bleak, yet warmly enveloping. Likewise, the central melodic motifs provide a degree of consistency, but noting these equally shift and mutate across the four tracks.

Being subtle, moody and contemplative, personally I have found this tape an extremely enjoyable one, particularly as it functions to counter-point the bulk of harder, harsher and aggressive material covered by Noise Receptor Journal. In a word – recommended.


 

Himukalt – Come October

Himukalt – Come October MC Found Remains 2018

Following quickly on the heals of the recent Knife Through The Spine vinyl LP issued on Malignant Records, Come October is the sixth release since 2016 from Himukalt, which is the solo project of Nevada based Ester Kärkkäinen.

With a sound that is rough and decidedly gritty, the analogue derived tones are soot and rust infused, while the vocals feature as emotional and bile drenched (aka echo distorted/ treated). Minimal structure is employed throughout, based around crude abstracted rhythmic programming, choppy static, shuddering distortion and occasional tonal blasts, but the end result is an industrial noise ‘post-mortem’ style than anything typically of a harsh noise variety. The minimalist approach to sound and composition gives a clear nod to the likes of the psychological and death obsessed sounds Atrax Morgue, while the sonic treatment of vocals renders them for tonal impact rather than decipherable intent. Yet based on their at times pained delivery, I gather their lyrical content functions for a degree of personalized catharsis that anything resembling a role for externalized ‘entertainment’.

Opening track Ruined-Raped is an absolute stormer and functions to illustrate Ester’s command of compositional restraint, as well as the perfect execution of controlled tension in building it to a liberating release. Again and Again is another standout track, structured around a rhythmic percussive junk metal loop, upon which fluttering textures, distortion smears and treated agonized vocals are laid, where all elements are gradually elevated in intensity over its elongated length. Apology uses composed minimalism in the best way possible, where wavering tonal elements, needling drones and apathetic but heavily treated vocals gradually makes way for throbbing beat before abruptly concluding. For the late track No Longer Her Dominant, a pathological atmosphere pervades proceedings, which carefully balances the minimalism of its tonally droning sonics, where it is also the only track where the spoken vocals are (partially) decipherable.

In a relatively short space of time Ester has clearly garnered positive attention within the underground, which is solely down to the strength and intensity of her output. With six tracks feature on Come October, and running to just short of 40 minutes it makes it an effective album length tape, and is as good a place as any to either be introduced to or otherwise better acquainted with Himukalt. For the physical edition, the tape is professional printed, with clean graphic design, and comes with a download code for those so inclined.