Damion Romero - Negative (PACrec/P-Tapes CD)

Traditionally PACrec CDs have dropped in bunches and this new November onslaught is no different...but I decided to focus my energies on Damion Romero's new one tonight and hand in my report on the other two (Envenomist and Roman Torment) at a later date. Gotta spread the love around. Romero was last featured in these "e-pages" as part of the incredible "California" 10xLP set, and if you're still not knowing, is the brawn (and possibly the brains!) behind highly influential/destructive units like Speculum Fight, Slug and Astromero. I do believe this is Romero's first solo release of the year but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. And, like seemingly everything Romero touches on, it's a co-release with his own P-Tapes label - number 31 to be exact which might indicate that it was recorded some time ago since P-Tapes are currently up to number 67 or so.
"Negative" is one thirty-minute long piece that opens with the sound of falling rain and passing cars but gets disrupted rather quickly by a few blitzkriegs of distorted sound, drop-outs and static rushes. A slow rumble forms on the horizon and pretty soon Romero builds up a wavering electro-drone terminally disturbed by occasional gasps of static, feedback and varying transmissions. And all the while if you listen hard enough you can still hear the rain in the background...I think. As I've found in a lot of Romero's work, there's a bizarre affecting sense of humanity behind his machine-made drones that's hard to explain. It's like if you gave somebody a set of instruments exactly the same as what Romero played and instructed that person to recreate what's heard, it wouldn't sound a thing like what you hear on "Negative". It's like sneaking along underneath the harsh tones found on the surface is a whole other set of compositions and ragas coming into play, just out of reach to everybody else but still managing to alter the listening experience vastly. It's like raiiiiyaiiin on your wedding day, it's a freeee riiiiide when you've already paiiiid. You know? No, you don't, but you will when you come to your senses and scope this one out. Dotted throughout the lengthy piece are occasional blurts of electro/synth gabber and blather, buried just enough so they cause more intrigue than annoyance (although there are a couple points when the sound cuts out altogether and promptly resumes as if the CD were skipping and maybe Romero's fucked up noise towers have just that kind of effect on the wimpy devices called upon to reproduce his tunes). By far the best part of the whole journey is the end (as is usually the case) but I mean that in no way as a slight or anything like that...but when the burrowing roar diminishes and the rain/car engine combo once again fills your headphones it's like a wash of relief, knowing you made it out on the other side safely and can't wait to take the ride again. In fact you could almost make a case that Romero's sound is like traffic itself - all identifiable sounds partially obscuring other identifiable sounds.
If all this sounds like a load of balderdash to you, then I can only say that you'll understand when you hear it. And if you don't, play it again. I listened to "Negative" four times in a row and never once didn't enjoy every minute of it. And not in the lame masochistic sense either that's sometimes attached to noise releases...heck I'm hard-pressed to even call "Negative" noise despite the fact that it so obviously is. It's just so excellently composed, as the finest so-called noise always is. If you find yourself staring at the massive PACrec/Troniks catalogue trying to figure out what to order, start with this one. Then add anything else because you really can't go wrong anyway.


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