Freak Scene has been sporadic in the past few weeks for a multitude of reasons, listed below. I am not trying to talk about feelings, just attempting to explain some obstacles I had to overcome to get here and write about a select group of wonderful new releases/reissues by M.B., Ultra, and Tin Man. First there was a large flood in my dorm which, while leaving most of my possessions dry albeit smelly, drowned my floor and damaged the stack of Freak Scene promos lying on the floor. Then I graduated college and that came with its share of final papers, ceremonies and open bars. Alcohol should never be an excuse but this time, I have to bring it up. When this column runs, I will be on my way to Austin, TX for Chaos in Tejas where I will be viewing musical performances by such great acts as X (Australia), Bastard, Bastard Noise, Twin Stumps, Grass Widow, The Spits, Inquisition, Bone Awl, Marked Men, Kim Phuc, Volahn etc. etc. Expect a full wrap up in the next Freak Scene! Until then, check out the reviews under the jump…
Tin Man, Scared
Techno is not my area of expertise. I am not like my friend Fred who discusses countries in terms of BPM. Of course I am a huge fan of Wolfgang Voigt ‘s Gas, which I saw live last spring, but I can not write a review of this new Tin Man record, Scared, and reference eight other techno records, sorry. So why write about a genre that I know minimal (get it?) about? Well, Tin Man, the moniker of one Johannes Auvinen, is contradictory and disorienting enough to keep my interest. Auvinen’s vocals are unsettling, soothing, and uncomfortable all at the same time. From track to track, he offers the listener big questions to ponder about life—“We ask ourselves can we really lose ourselves?” on standout track “Zone Unknown”—while also creepily fondling listeners’ ears with odd instructions like, “You could join us, you could join us.” The beats linger in the background. At times they sound like they could soundtrack a rave if they were louder or, in the case of side B opener, “Fish,” a softcore cinematic feature but like…a really sophisticated and classy one. It is all about the vocals and Tin Man is a fascinating guide to follow for forty minutes and unending repeat listens after that. Auvinen has the kind of voice that could lull you into a deep hypnotic sleep or trance, where the end result is a dream in which something humiliating yet slightly arousing happens and you wake up confused, unsure if you are relieved or disappointed that it was all a dream. Listening to Tin Man is guaranteed to amplify any and all experiences. You can get the release from White Denim HERE.
Ultra, Roman Holiday
Technically, Ultra chose Roman Holiday as the title for their 1997 album first but it makes sense to see this reissued, along with a huge chunk of material from 7-inches and a 7-inch of unreleased material, at a time when there is another Roman Holiday floating around—is this a sign of our continued descent into Roman style cultural decadence?—and the world’s tolerance for unsavory yet alluring noise-cum-rock records is at an all time high. Bring on the women issues wrapped in noise! All joking aside, this is a great record that avoids completely falling into so many of those trite and sometimes jokey power electronics tropes while still being disquieting and vicious. If you like those tropes though, and sometimes I really do, they are here. After all, there is a whole song, “Letter of Introduction,” about tight orifices, ejaculation and violence. There are two things which are immediately appealing to me about Ultra’s Roman Holiday. First, Ultra uses a variety of methods to express, as per the reissue insert, each track’s “disturbingly prickly quality.” There are piano-based and synth instrumental tracks which are unforgiving and dour. Sometimes they are paired with vocals, like on the industrial chill of “Wad” and “Perfect Pitch and Manchester United.” Simply, the whole thing is very eerie and disturbing and worthy of hours spent examining each track. The ambient tracks are often more troubling than the straightforward power electronics songs and thankfully the second LP of this reissue is composed almost entirely of them. The more straightforward tracks, like “New Centurion,” the aforementioned “Letter of Introduction,” and Ultra’s cover of “I Can’t Stand a Bitchy Chick,” with lyrics like “You bitch…you won’t survive my fury…male dominant, that’s the way I like it,” launch into deranged rants with a wall of noise behind it. Lesson learned: malevolence does not come in a single form. Second, Ultra’s frankness about the content of its music and its effect on listeners is interesting to someone like me…you know, a little white girl. The insert to the reissue, written of Tyler Davis of the Ajna Offensive, features this top notch line, “I’m sure there are a few women who might find this titillating, but not as many as the men who will get off.” If a band is going to run around preaching a masculinist discourse, let’s all acknowledge it and admit that yeah, some dudes are probably going to jerk it to this record. Are we embracing the perverts or critiquing them, and when Ultra makes such striking and disconcerting music, does it even matter? Get it from Dom America HERE.
Maurizio Bianchi, Endometrio
Dais release #13 finds us at a reissue of Maurizio Bianchi’s Endometrio, originally released in 1982, and now limited to 500 copies. Endometrio is Italian for Endometriosis, a gynecological condition that I do not recommend you Wikipedia unless you have a very strong constitution. Much like the condition, this record slowly builds up and chews away at the listener. Endometrio isn’t immediately harsh but is instead made up of churning, intricate layers of sound and noise. Unlike Ultra, MB is an experimenter, not a provocateur. The music moves slowly but you do move forward, even if at times it seems that there is no clear goal or endpoint. It is about process and noticing the subtleties and details, like a whistle in the distance on side one or the screech of noise that ends side two. Lose yourself in the rumbling, crushing industrial sounds, or something. Nearly everything MB/Maurizio Bianchi has touched is classic and rightly so since it is pretty hard to find flaws with his early work, like this record. On the insert, Bianchi is quoted in 2009 as saying, “I entered upon the intracellular road of ‘bionic music,’ which is one of pre-recorded sounds that are electronically generated and then treated through the use of a nucleic echo-machine. The subsequent outcome was just the mucous ‘Endometrio,’ an echographic work with biological characteristics.” Sometime to keep in mind for your next listen? Get it HERE from Dais.
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