2012 delivered quite a few new and unexpected and refreshing acts, especially when considering the variety of great noise releases from this year including larger projects such as Kevin Drumm’s arresting long-form release, ‘Relief’ to newer gems such as Divorce, So Stressed, BNNT, White Suns, and that Wreck and Reference debut that resonate so well with me. Overall the amount of creativity that came out of the experimental music scene in 2012 was overwhelming to say the least. Zebra Pulse however, is a noise project of an entirely different variety, offering a their own take on what seems to be an infinitely expansive genre.
Within the past year I’ve been hearing and reviewing quite a few projects from Edmonton, Alberta, specifically noise and experimental music ranging from the meditative noise of Pigeon Breeders, to Taiwan’s surreal nostalgia driven soundtrack experimentalism, and Meat Force’s horror inspired glitch pieces just to name a few. Zebra Pulse is a four piece noise band whose wholly improvised approach to noise music combines free-form drumming with electronics such as tapes and turntables that results in a wholly organic collage-like body of sounds.
What you will hear on ‘Endings’ are plenty of off kilter drumming set to a background of strange and sometimes unsettling noises. These noises range from discordant harsh electronics to warped vocal samples. Like I mentioned at the beginning of the review, Zebra Pulse’s style works like a collage of sounds, each musician bringing together different pieces of the music, many times pieces that shouldn’t go together and build from it. Their approach to creating noise rock is much like attempting to fit a puzzle piece in a place where it shouldn’t go; instead of finding the proper pieces Zebra Pulse says “fuck it” and smashes it into place until it does fit and thats not to say that this technique doesn’t work well, in some cases it works surprisingly well, much more than you’d think a band with a drummer and three other guys playing with tape loops and record players would be able to make it work. Other times however, the songs do come of as sounding forced or just out of place.
While there are moments where the electronics do compliment the drumming for the most part they come off as sounding like improvised pieces where drums are just being played overtop of a bunch of noise. ‘Endings’ lacks cohesiveness, the album sounds more like a bunch of jams than a fully realized record but although not entirely gripping it makes for an interesting listening experience for fans of noise and experimental music who are looking for something out of the ordinary, even in genres where ordinary is an often foreign word.
Overall Rating: 6.2
Favorite Tracks: “In The Tub In The Club”, 1GB of Dada
Not so long ago an album called ‘White Eagle’ materialized seemingly out of nowhere where it soon developed a small cult following primarily thanks to /mu/, a music image board on 4chan. The musician responsible is Heccra, whose strange digitalized style of post-hardcore became a fun surprise for listeners who discovered it. Heccra’s style of music could be characterized by the over-saturation of every aspect of the project’s sound, that being the employment of pitch-shifted vocals, the deliberate use of processed drums, and digitalized glitchy post-production.
What we get with ‘The Last Weekend of Summer’ is a much larger pop presence on this release than that of the fast-paced and more aggressive ‘White Eagle’ which isn’t to say that this change is a bad thing at all, I actually prefer this new direction to that of ‘White Eagle’. The most noticeable change with this new EP are the vocals which focus exclusively on cleaner vocals where as ‘White Eagle’ featured an excessive amount of screamed vocals making Heccra’s brand of post-hardcore just as catchy as ever and you can tell that the musician behind this project has been listening to a lot of Algernon Cadwallader (RIP). The love-it-or-hate-it chipmunk vocals are still present but to much less of a degree which in the context of what this EP may have been a good move. The focus is no longer on intensity but on songwriting and although this album is more focused on that it still manages to pack a hell of a punch.
One of my favorite things about the new EP is Heccra’s implementation of more electronics than previously before. The electronics range from shimmering bubbly tones to glitch to the signature chipmunk-like vocals and bring some fun and brightness to the music. At times it may all seem all a bit cringe-worthy but thats kind of what Heccra’s music succeeds at doing. What would normally be just another third-wave post-hardcore album the music Heccra makes shows that he isn’t afraid to throw himself into obscurity in order to breath some originality into something that has been lackluster at best for a while because as much as I like the sound lets face it, bands like Algernon Cadwallader and Snowing don’t stick around for a reason, after the first few releases there isn’t really anywhere else to go.
On ‘The Last Weekend of Summer’ all of the energy that made the debut album so great is still here but with a few stylistic changes that will surely keep listeners on their toes. Get into it.
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.
Fun stuff with plenty of distorted guitars playing catchy riffs with either nonsense-sounding or tongue-in-cheek lyrics about stuff like wanting to have a dog and buying one, suburbia kids stuff, just look at the album cover. Entertaining Rock n Roll. They part ways with that for a moment with a bit of spoken vocals in Acclimate and it gets grungier by the next track, Pathways.
Everything is standard home-recorded indie rock stuff, with guitar solos and all, your local punk influenced band. If that’s what you like, have some of it, it’s free.