Jorge Castro - Pastoral / Cornucopia - Death of the Sun / Astro/Cornucopia - Drop Out Bones/Shock Therapy (Sonora CD-Rs)
Cornucopia are the go-to noise duo from Puerto Rico, having released works on labels such as Hospital Productions, Gameboy Records, Chondritic Sound, and most recently Heavy Tapes, not to mention their own Sonora label, from whence these three CD-Rs were birthed. As Cornucopia, Claudio Chea and Jorge Castro have been flying under my own radar for quite some time, as I've never really taken the time to get to know em better...until now, when Jorge took it upon himself to correct that for me, and for which I am indebted to him. The Castro solo disc and the Cornucopia compilation are both fairly recent releases, while the collaboration with Astro is from 2006 but was too badass to exclude.
According to Castro (sounds like the name of a sitcom), "Pastoral" comes from a lifelong interest in grindcore and death metal. Well that's hip by me, but it's evidenced nowhere on the 10-minute title track that opens the album. Which isn't a bad thing. It's a lovely, weightless drone consisting of organic, painted tones and gently looped mechanical swathes. It's the kind of lushness (lushosity?) that recalls the glorious "Osmose" record by Ariel Kalma so you know it's money, Eddie. On the next track, however, those metal influences start cropping up in a big way, because "Detrito" is a layered piece of snarled guitar riffs set to a dubby test-pattern backdrop, and it slowly blossoms into a fully-fleshed out definite near-metal threat not at all unlike what you might expect from Skullflower or even Stephen O'Malley and Peter Rehberg's KTL project. It's tough to slice, no fooling, and it merges the now-popular noise/guitar metal notion together like few others I've heard.
The final track "Horizonte", on the other hand, is a formless drift even more washed out than the first track...more like Tim Hecker's body of work condensed down into an ice cube and polished down to a sheen. With a belt sander. Castro hits a real nice mix of just about everything here (or everything you would want to hear from one guy, one guitar and some pedals), but track number two is definitely number one with a bullet in my heart.
Jorge is rejoined by partner in crime Claudio Chea on "Death of the Sun" which presents an a-chronological look at some of their earlier work (1999 to 2003 plus one from 2005), and like "Pastoral", it demonstrates a devotion to diversity in sound, albeit with more of a noise bent. 1999's "Mantraofabrokenman" opens with a harsh beat that teases a full-on "Merzbeat"-type rhythm but it's quickly obliterated by a flurry of computer-generated blasts and white-knuckled knob fiddling. "Bromuros Antisepticos" from 2002 is a lengthy piece using super sparse tinny jingles and acid rain fallout - you know the opening two minutes of Jean Claude Vannier's "L'enfant Assassin des Mouches"? Right, except pulled out over 15 minutes into a scraping, harrowing drawl. "Luz", from the same year, is similar to Castro's "Horizonte" in that they're both glacial, high-frequency droning mammoths, but "Luz" evolves in quite a striking manner, subtly revealing additional hidden skins and ending up more like Maryanne Amacher or Eliane Radigue by the end. 2005's "Mensaje No Existente Re_cia" works in the same slow-thunked vein, replacing the harsh tones with cement-scope deep sinking drones and occasional furnace blasts like the whole thing was recorded in a dank boiler room somewhere. There's even a couple of brief, hyperblasts like "Monumento a la Nada" and "Diezmo" that show these dudes know when's the time to run a blitz just as well as they know how to play the zone...d out. Kinda like what I said about "Pastoral", really - beautiful and ugly and diverse enough to please anybody. Living up to the Cornucopia moniker rather admirably, then. Apparently somewhere in here is a collaboration with Sickness, although I wasn't listening for it and as such totally missed out on it. These kinds of things should be written explicitly somewhere in the case of daft punks like myself!
"Drop Out Bones/Shock Therapy" might look like a split for all intents and purposes, but it's actually a sort of collaboration in that Astro created "Drop Out Bones" out of Cornucopia sounds (plus his own synth additions), while Cornucopia sourced "Shock Therapy" from, you guessed it, Astro sounds. "Drop Out Bones" (what a great title) is one of the best Astros I've ever heard post-C.C.C.C., and certainly a terrific display of the drawn-out cosmic benders he's come to call his own. The first long while is devoted to a thick blowing drone (remixed Cornucopia tunes, no doubt) and gizmo chirping (Astro's synth, no doubt) that comes off sounding like a weird mash-up of Supersilent and Merzbow and Pan Sonic's "V" collaboration...later it sets into an oscillating psychedelic vaccuum not too far removed from Astro's tag team efforts with Damion Romero - certainly one of those turn off/tune out asteroid belts that'll knock you dizzy for the entire length of its playing time (about a half-hour)...and it's also further evidence as to why Hiroshi Hasegawa is one noisician I'm consistently looking forward to hearing new things from.
Cornucopia's track on the other hand pushes out a series of frigid-aired static akin to a cold front descending on Tusken Raiders, or possibly the aural equivalent of living in an iron lung although I can't personally confirm that. Cold footsteps on ceramic tiles constantly interrupted by bolts of radio static also lend this one a severe hospital-ward vibe like a trip out of/through Silent Hill. Not too much to say because it's simple and effective, inasmuch as its intense and in the pocket, and more than worthy of sharing silver (green, in the case of this CD-R) with the almighty Astro. Or maybe Astro's worthy of sharing it with the almighty Cornucopia. Why can't we all just get along, anyways?
If this all sounds like your bag and it probably should, you can score most of these jammers from the Sonora website or the Archive distro, not to mention ErstDist and Mimaroglu and other attuned e-head shops. Of course, you're also probably a lot quicker on the draw than I am and you got em all by now and know the whole Cornucopia deal like your ABCs, in which case I'm kinda surprised you're still reading. Go ahead, rub it in.
Jorge Castro - Pastoral (excerpt)
Jorge Castro - Detrito (excerpt)
Cornucopia - Mantraofabrokenman (excerpt)
Cornucopia - Bromuros Antisepticos (excerpt)
Cornucopia - Luz (excerpt)
Astro - Drop Out Bones (excerpt)
Cornucopia - Shock Therapy (excerpt)
MP3s courtesy Sonora