Iovae - Civilization / Pig Exam - Contort Thine Cells (SNSE CDs)
SNSE label boss Pat contacted me asking if he could pass along a couple of things he's done, to which I agreed. I went to the website and dug around and it all looked cool but I couldn't crack the biggest enigma of all - what does SNSE stand for? I'm sure most (any) of you reading at home leapt up and shouted out the answer just now like you were on some Family Feud shit but you'll have to excuse me, the slower type, for not knowing. On the website, beneath the huge SNSE letters, it says "FUCKING SHIT". And that's all I had to work with. But somewhere along the way I either found the information or it came to me in a dream - Scratch n' Sniff Entertainment! Now there's a name that rings with familiarity, though I'm still not quite sure why. I've probably heard it bandied around in casual water-cooler conversation or maybe I even have a SNSE CD in my collection but who knows. Both of these discs are by hardened noise warriors although I hadn't heard of either: Iovae is Ron Orovitz (of Death Beam) and Pig Exam is the nom de plume of New Zealander Lorent Clements (of Downfeed, Zorac5, EggSpecies, Blisstuff, and many more).
On Iovae's "Civilzation", Orovitz's weapon of choice is the Grinder, this being a pet name for the oscillator stack he works with. The album covers a surprising amount of ground for being as single-minded as it is though. Opening track "Formi" features a nauseous analogue loop, much more droney and hypnotizing than ear-wrenching. That part comes next, on "Enlightenment". The introductory high-pitched tones are basically what I'd imagine whenever I heard the urban legend about earwigs crawling into a person's brain as an impressionable youth. But at the same time there's a repeated rhythm, with Orovitz layering sounds on top of eachother creating a sharp, rigid intonation that grabs you and threatens to never let go. "Grinder Erupt" shares similar analogue notions, except they're spread across ten minutes and are more concerned with construction than destruction, if that makes any sense. What I mean is that there's a compositional element to it that supercedes the catch-all tag of plain old "noise". It doesn't really sound like the Grinder is in danger of erupting per se, but things definitely do start getting a little hairy as the piece wears on. The other two tracks I like best though, "History of the Deafening" and "Ode to Schadenfreude". The former seems to use some kind of field recording/found sound of people talking as source material (or, at the very least, a starting point) and then sets off on a whole sky-raping spree of dark, torrid rumbles. The latter is built around the disassembly of a classical sample which I'm not nearly adept enough to identify, but it warps and distorts until you're not really sure what you're hearing anymore. A Schadenfreude implies taking pleasure from someone else (presumably the listener)'s misery but there's none of that here. Just sweeeeeet emmmmooooottiiiiooooon (talkin' 'bout things and nobody cares - doo doo, doo-do, doodle-oo doo).
According to SNSE, Pig Exam's Lorent Clements has been in the game for some ten years now, operating under many different guises. "Contort Thine Cells" (good name) is his first professionally-pressed CD and second release for SNSE. The label blurb equates the sounds on "Contort" to being shot in the face by a police taser from short range. Twice. I'm not so sure about that; there's no real heavy blasting on this particular disc, at least not to my ears. More like occasional jabs punctuated with the odd bout of silence, or a bright electric squiggle and so on and so forth. There's a lot of haphazard, if not random, sounding events taking place throughout the whole disc, like Clements is flicking switches, twisting knobs and hitting buttons when the mood hits him. Quite a stark contrast to Iovae's controlled demonry, at least. And since it never really reaches any great heights in terms of volume or sonic overload, the whole thing kinda floats by unnoticed. I can't really pick out what kind of instruments are being put to use here, probably synths and keyboards and effects pedals and what sounds like contact-miked bubble-wrap on the last track. Not bad, not great, but I'm sure at ten years on Clements knows what he's doing and it's just not something I find particuarly engrossing, that's all.
SNSE releases are available for reasonable prices ($8-$10 per CD while CD-Rs are $6). What I enjoyed is how much care is put into the packaging - too many noise labels these days get away with slipping a CD-R into a cardboard case, applying some spraypaint, and calling it a day. I understand not everybody has the money to do a slick production job but it really does make a difference and certainly helps set you apart from the pack. Both Iovae and Pig Exam's discs come in jewel cases with eye-rending artwork (unfortunately both in black and white but maybe that was just an aesthetic decision by the artists) with the Iovae album's tray card and liner notes printed on thick, textured cardstock, real snappy like. Interesting stuff indeed, thanks much to Pat for hipping me to his hard work.