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Freak Scene #26

January 29, 2008

Freak Scene returns to its regular format, pulling obscurities from the ether and making them less obscure. This week Kevin Drumm, Howard Stelzer, the Incapacitants (that's the dad-ish looking dudes above) and Snake Figures Fan get the treatment.

Kevin Drumm

One person who I’ve yet to delve into here in Freak Scene is the singular Kevin Drumm. Drumm first came to prominence for his improvisational work with people like Jim O’Rourke and Ken Vandermark. His solo work reveals a world of harsh noise and densely layered electronics. His recent Purge cassette packed a serious wallop of impenetrable sound. His latest work is entitled simply Snow, a cassette released on the Hospital Productions label. Here Drumm is at his more minimal and dare I say even romantic, albeit a romance doomed to failure. Stripped down drones, creating a Zen garden of resonating tones. Drumm’s source sounds have a purity unmatched by his peers. It’s a sound that cuts through frequencies and enters every pore of the body. Clearly Drumm has shown us his ability to scorch the earth. Snow is the sound of what comes afterward. Even such a seemingly innocuous title turns to despair in Drumm’s hand. The label description of this tape was one word. Dismal.

Howard Stelzer

Another gentleman that’s been riding the waves of non-traditional composition is Howard Stelzer. Having run the Intransitive label for many years as well as performing cassette tape cut-up sounds, Stelzer has slowly been evolving his craft and the results speak for themselves on his new disc entitled Bond Inlets. The most remarkable aspect of this recording is how distinct the sounds are edited. When layers shift, enter or leave their movement is apparent and audible. Over the course of two extended pieces, the music moves from near ambient hiss and static to more present densely layered sound, Stelzer keep the frequency range consistent throughout the recording making the piece a work as a large expanded dread. Like walking into a cave the further you go in to Bond Inlets the more the darkness spreads and impenetrable it may seem. But there is a calm to this material that never moves into predictable explosions of noise. This is my favorite stuff by Stelzer yet and perhaps the best-looking Intransitive release so far.

Well, if we’re looking for pure noise, the raw stuff, the ear splitting, frequency abusing, face fucking, abusive raw sounds we can look no further than to Japan’s Incapacitants. The newest from them is called El Shanbara Therminosis and is brought to us by the Swedish label Segerhuva. The band is made up of T, Mikawa and F.Kosakai, two rather conservative middle-aged looking investment bankers by day and sadistic electronics and theremin torturers by night. For all the scene catty-ness and noise snobbery the one thing every real noise head seems to agree on is that Incapacitants are the real deal. The music on this album contains two pieces from a cassette release from 1995 as well a re-visitation addition from last year. The sounds are what I’d describe as bleeding, pummeling electronics. Where the squealing Theremins add a narrative to the harsh noise blasts, there is no relief from the tense assaults these two exhibit here. This music is created and performed with intense vigor and force. El Shanbara Therminosis is definitely something to check for to get your head blown open.

Snake Figures Fan

After all this torture its time to bring things down a notch with Snake Figures Fan, which is one of the seemingly thousands of solo pseudonyms of the Skaters' James Ferraro. Snake Figures Fan is straight keyboard-driven midnight cloud dream music in a low fidelity trance of cosmic gas. The Skaters are quite a prolific team and the quality of their various releases have made them collectible to geeks all over the world. It’s been a few years that the Skaters have been going strong and at each step they continue to eschew commercialism and career goals. This is underground music that has no desire to reach any heights besides the basement door. So get your hands on anything you can, as they’re not making any statements that are going into Virgin Mega Store anytime soon. As far as dream music goes, these guys are the real deal. Sleep confused!


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From The Collection:

Freak Scene
Posted: January 29, 2008
Freak Scene #26