Hair Police – Mercurial Rights

Hair Police - Mercurial Rites

In 2001, noise trio, Hair Police, made quite a racket within the experimental music scene and continued to do so for a number of years before going on an unannounced hiatus in which members pursued endeavors in their respective separate projects. It wasn’t until earlier this year that the group returned to the noise scene with their most complete effort in years and arguably their most intimidating release out of their entire catalogue. Featuring members of noise legends Wolf Eyes and Burning Star Core, Hair Police brings together aspects from these backgrounds, the frothing primal aggression of the former and mesh it with the sonically attentive subtleties of the latter. With ‘Mercurial Rites’ the group looks to strip the semi-polished sheen of noise music’s marriage with digitally processed sounds and the recent influence of dub music, instead, taking the genre back to the electronic medieval that seems to have been absent in recent years.

While in recent times the musicians most notable for their contributions to the early modern developments of the now thriving noise scene, the likes of Dominick Fernow of Prurient and  Vatican Shadow, Pete Swanson (ex-Yellow Swans), and Black Dice have been moving more toward exclusively structural variants of electronic music, implementing their once completely atonal noise compositions into the structural format of modern electronic music, namely the likes of dub and minimal techno, Hair Police have something entirely different in mind, devoid of any of the aforementioned electronic themes, thus harkening back to the primitive roots of electronic music. Hair Police revisits the confrontational aspects of noise that the genre was known for during its early developments recalling the hellish vocals evocative of the ear-aching noise pioneered by controversial power-electronics group, Whitehouse in the 80s and early 90s.

Hair Police’s sound actually reminds me a lot of the more abrasive works from Wolf Eyes, albeit, this form of corrosiveness is not of an immediate kind but  rather, long form, slow-burning, and reminiscent of the Wolf Eyes collaborative series of works with psychedelic noise collective, Black Dice. ‘Mercurial Rites’ is a record that knows when to be punishingly noisy and when to bring in a moodier atmosphere. It is this live aspect that adds layers of depth and uniqueness to an otherwise colorless, bleak vision. The vocals add yet another nightmarish quality to these dissonant tormented soundscapes. With this release the band has proven itself worthy of crafting a nicely balanced record, intermittently transitioning from the tortured analogue hell of ‘We Prepare’ to the  nightmarish dungeon-esque ambience of ‘Scythed Wide’. While Hair Police’s style has always included a strong atmospheric presence the band still manages to touch on a dark aspect of music that feels natural rather than intentional, even in the midst of a less noisy approach. In a genre of extremes  the group has created a sound that isn’t completely over-cooked, finding a middle ground between the unlistenable and the accessible, making this release a good jumping on point for those who are unfamiliar with the band to listen.

Although I’ve had a fondness for noise, drone, experimental, avant-garde; vanguard music as a whole, for some reason I never got around to listening to Hair Police up until this point but even with that said I can say without question that ‘Mercurial Rites’ is easily the bands most complete effort since 2008’s ‘Certainty of Swarms’ and one of the better harsh noise records I’ve heard this year thus far. It is a record that shows that the band hasn’t at all let up on the caustic sound in which they made a name for themselves with, even in the midst of noise music’s current transition toward something conclusively musical; a sound this record seems to be inherently opposed to. It is here that disturbing soundscapes fill the void between blasts of distortion-ridden noise and if that doesn’t sound unsettling enough the shrill disembodied vocals that haunt this record will likely give you nightmares, although these are nightmares that I wouldn’t mind revisiting often.

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Overall Rating: 8.0

Favorite Tracks: ‘We Prepare’

Recommended: Wolf Eyes, Burning Star Core, Black Dice

Released: January 2013

Links:

Stream the LP on Type Records

Buy the record on Boomkat

-Tyler Thompson

Heccra – White Eagle

Heccra is an experimental post-hardcore band that nearly defies the label itself. The band starts with the basic post-hardcore template, dynamic guitar work, screams, and blast beats and adds onto them with elements of glitch, electronics, pitch-shifted vocals that brings a refreshing newfound energy to something that has seemingly been stagnant for some time, a sound that a friend of mine describes as “sounding like Agoraphobic Nosebleed and The Blood Brothers falling down a flight of stairs.”

When I first listened to Heccra I heard ‘VHS Porn’ which struck me as an enjoyable little tune but I wasn’t really expecting what the rest of the album would hold for me from listening to that one song. The first track starts out strong,  ‘Brain Damage Is My Friend’ hits hard as thick drums trample their way through the song but then, half way through these pitch-shifted Alvin and the Chipmunks-esque vocals make a brief appearance. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of it, they felt a little out of place, I was almost kind of shocked by how ridiculous it was but as soon as the second track hit the sound seemed appropriate in this strange way, they just kind of fit in as these quirky background elements that complimented the character of the album itself, it is a fun idea that just seems to work. One of my favorite things about ‘White Eagle’ is the amount of diversity on this album, with some songs incorporating glitch and small bits of electronics into their music while others such as ‘VHS Porn’ containing influences from garage rock showcasing a rawer tone; no matter how many times I listen to the album I don’t find myself growing bored of it. Heccra keeps things short and to the point and with none of the tracks reaching over the 2 minute mark it is hard to not be interested because just as you are getting tired of hearing something the track is over.

The quality is great with all of the instruments coming through clearly, even over bombardment of the drums, most of which sounds like they are either triggered or generated by a drum machine, they have that distinct clicking sound which I am normally not very fond of but within the context of what Heccra is trying to do it is a welcomed sound that works well with the other aspects of their music such as the brief glitchy breaks that they sprinkle so delicately throughout. The melodies on a lot of the tracks such as ‘Shitty Water’ and ‘A.M.’ are dangerously catchy and fuse perfectly with all of the electronic elements of Heccra that make for a piece of music that is just as fun as it is both complex and smart in songwriting.  The thunderous riffs on ‘A.M.’ come through so clearly and just as the vocals come in these pretty synth-like sounds further add to the catchiness of Heccra’s craft. The vocals range from wild screams to gang vocals that bring the song to an energetic singable climax.

When I first heard Heccra I wasn’t really sure what to make of it but after a few listens it was hard not to get caught up in all of the creativity ‘White Eagle’ brings to post-hardcore music, it is all very refreshing and fun. With all of the pitch-shifted chipmunk style vocals it kind of left me feeling on the fence at first but I think this is a testament to what hardcore music should be able to do; innovate, progress, and just be a fun experience that pushes the boundaries of what a certain genre should sound like. Of course, there will be people who dismiss this right off the bat because of the vocals but I think that what ‘White Eagle’ does is refreshing, fun, and definitely worth a listen, or a few hundred. It is also worth noting that there are two versions of the album, one with the pitch-shifted vocals and one without (Dropped).

Overall rating: 8.5

Favorite Track: Brain Damage Is My Friend,A.M., VHS Porn, Shitty Water

Recommended: A fun and energetic record deserving of your ears.

Released: 2012

Links:

Visit the Soundcloud page

Download ‘White Eagle’ Here

Download the “Dropped” Version

Redntoothnclaw

Orphan School – Secret Admirer

On the two track EP, ‘Secret Admirer’, Orphan school deviates from the mysterious dark ambient / noise of his previous recordings and shoots for a strange combination of simplistic folk and throat singing to create a haunting and dark encapsulating experience.

‘Secret Admirer’s’ sound relies on it’s simplicity; these stripped down folk songs utilizing ukulele, strange background noises and deep resonant throat singing that puts emphasis on creating a dense and vivid body of music. Secrete Admirer’s lack of instrumentation results in a skeletal sound that forces the listener to pay attention in ways not possible otherwise. Where this EP really shines is the range this guy gets with his voice, from a cavernously deep drone to something of a midrange nasally hum that results in some of the most expressive throat singing I have come across. I think that even for those familiar with this style of singing the vocals will be an immediate deterrent but for the more adventurous type, for those who won’t have a problem embracing Orphan School’s distinctive sound this will be something of a gem.

In terms of folk music most will argue that having a beautiful voice or even displaying the ability to sing “properly” is almost always absent. Instead the musicians abilities are focused on enhancing other aspects of their craft such as songwriting, lyrics, and story telling – not to say that the style of singing employed on this album isn’t beautiful but that the lyrics are also a standout part of the music that adds to ‘Secret Admirer’s’ creepy world and alien imagery. On the second track, ‘Next Year’ Orphan School Sings ‘ if you take a look outside there is always something beautiful to find’ which makes for an odd but extremely stimulating juxtaposition with the unusual vocals. The two tracks on this EP do well in projecting a strange feeling, a sense of anxiety and awkwardness through the vivid lyrics utilizing this lovesick character to project them. Orphan School is telling a story and I can’t help but become enthralled in it.

This will undoubtably be challenging piece of music to digest for some but if you can get past the initial shock of what you are hearing the experience is a disturbing, strange, surreal, and sometimes beautiful venture into new sonic territory. Check it out for yourself, take from it what you will, and enjoy.

Overall rating: 8.1

Favorite Track: Enjoyed both tracks

Recommended: Be prepared for anything and embrace it.

Released: 14 February 2012

Links: Peep Orphan School on Bandcamp

Redntoothnclaw

Carpeaux – Black Magic

With the godly Carpeaux, I ensured him that I would review his album a while back so here it is:

If anyone were to listen to this album on their first take they would wonder if there was a story book meant for this epic tale.  At the same time the guitars have the feel and the sounds from a lot of early Hendrix recordings of Black Magic with some wild flaying around.  But at the same time it’s got this nice math rock you would hear out of Tool or Muse (which I’m sure he hates both groups).  Overall the album has got a single trance like feel running through the entire album.  Almost would be perfect album to listen to drunk in a dark room so then your imagination could build up and listen in depth to the album.  The Vocals are dark deep and meaningful but too deep for me.

Best track on the album:

Gilgamesh, fifth king of Uruk: Such a powerful creation that needs to be listened to either live or at 100db minimum.  With a power swinging bass line and a flaying guitar, vocals that come from the deep depths of the sea, only a king could deny his rights into a kingdom of soloist’s with this track.

Download the album for free through this link     http://carpeaux.bandcamp.com/album/black-magic

Rekapper Overall Rating: 9.876/10