Mega Happy Fun Time 3" CD-R Round-Up

It dawned on me lately that I was accumulating quite a collection of 3" CD-Rs, so rather than review them all seperately I decided to stick all six together in one big festive 3" bash. I dunno why but I'm not really a huge fan of 3"s, something about the compactness of it all just puts me off, even though I'll concede that they're pretty ideal for your noise, drone, what have you, releases. Maybe the format just reminds me of my own bedroom deficiencies...maybe that's why I prefer big meaty 12"s! Oh god I've said too much :( Penis jokes aside, if you sent me a 3" lately, it's probably in the batch below, so keep on a-reading.
First up is a mysterious one from one mister K.E. Revis called "5.5.2007" (Boxer Music). It's initially remarkable for its ridiculous and borderline dangerous packaging, which I'm a big fan of. The CD-R comes in a little cloth pouch stapled to the inside of two oversized wire mesh sheets tied together like a little book. The colour insert has some minimal information on the back, but it doesn't tell you anything I already haven't. And Revis' presence on the internet is pretty minimal too. He runs an eBay store through which you can buy his releases and other distributed items, and all that tells you is that Revis has been making music since the late 80's, with "5.5.2007" the first in a planned series of self-released 3"s. Anyway the single, 20-minute piece is definitely in the deep-end of dark ambient/drone maneuvers, I count account for anything Revis is using but I'm betting a lot of pedals, synths, and/or laptops are involved. "5.5.2007" is a slow-moving changeling, brooding along ominously until loud rushes of oceanic roar take over, only to recede as quickly as they arrived. The trick is repeated a couple times in the track but never grows stale, instead lending a welcome sort of ebb-and-flow touch. Elsewhere the shaking, bass-y tones bring a general post-apocalypse/nightmarish feel or something equivalent to being swallowed by a black hole. If you're feeling the Nurse with Wounds, Atrium Carceris, Lustmords, and Vidna Obmanas of the world, you'll enjoy Revis' equally bleak outlook. Check out his store as linked above for more (4 releases to date including this one, $6.99 a pop).

Far be it from me to dabble in cliché stereotypes, but the guy who moonlights as Cauchy-Riemann (sorry, couldn't find the name his mom gave him on the interwebs) could've been the kid sitting alone in math class who everybody wanted to secretly get to know but no one had the guts, and here's my evidence: first of all, the name means, according to Wikipedia: "In mathematics, the Cauchy-Riemann differential equations in complex analysis, named after Augustin Cauchy and Bernhard Riemann, are two partial differential equations which provide a necessary but not sufficient condition for a function to be holomorphic." Got all that? And on the first of two 3"s he sent my way, "Finite Sets" (Self-released), all the tracks are all given names like "{.8, 12, .2, .0002, .4, 5, .00009, .01, 2.3}". I would just like to say, what gives? Why would you make me try to learn with your noise? As if I listened to music to try and pick up math tips. The whole reason I have a blog is because any dummy can do it, you don't need any skills! The nerve! No but really now. I don't know how much of a role calculations play in Cauchy-Riemann's noise, but it's blunt and harsh and loud enough that any slack-jawed inbred kin get their ears punched out by it, and that's what I like. The twelve tracks on "Finite Sets" range from 34 seconds to just under 3 minutes and each one has its own destructive flavor to it. Sounds to me like this Ohioian dude's taking cues from the likes of Masonna, early amp-annihilating Prurient, Whitehouse, Pain Jerk, et al...almost everything here is in the extreme high end of the spectrum, bright and sharp and harsh enough to make your eyes water. It's been a while since I ain't heard a nice firing-on-high harsh noise wailer, and this one made me want to stick earplugs in under my headphones, so it's safe to say I enjoyed it. I regret not uploading track 11 specifically for you to partake in, the crashing what-the-fuck-is-that percussion going on under CR's blizzard of white-hot noise and static skree is the bee's knees, and I mean that.

Cauchy-Riemann's second 3", "Utah" (Self-released), is a good bit bassier and, uh, "experimental" than the previous one. By that I mean it sounds more like CR's making it up as he goes, sorta generating things in a haphazard-cum-intentional fashion. I don't really know how to describe it, but it ain't as singluar as "Finite Sets". I thought it was actually gonna be a quiet one after the opening coupla seconds of "Salt Lake City", with its field recorded ocean waves (real ones, this time), but it quickly veers into scattered electronic burning. The four other tracks ain't as harsh, all thicker and more gnarled and often engaging in lengthy (as lengthy as a 20 minute disc can get) bouts of sustained throb and tension. "Oeden" sounds like faulty wiring about to explode completely while "American Folk" is a teeth-rattling stretch of dense blows delivered with jackhammer-like force. Both discs come in 3" jewel cases with hand-rendered Xeroxed inserts and a stenciled paint job. "Finite Sets" is an edition of 50, "Utah" is limited to 30. I suggest buying em both, playing them together real loud, and stuffing your nose with Kleenex to stop the bleeding.

Harm Stryker is a great name for a project and I have no real idea why. I'm not even sure that it means anything. So I guess from the get-go I was inclined to like their self-titled (Public Guilt) 3". Harm Stryker is a Virginian duo featuring Kelly Norse and Kenneth Yates (Caustic Castle, Insects with Tits) and already have a clutch of releases on labels including 804noise, SocketsCDR, and the awesome Brise-Cul label outta Montreal...not to mention upcoming joints on Bloodties and Obscurica. According to the label, the 16-minute piece that occupies this disc is "part requiem for our architectural history, part vitriol-fueled sound in opposition to the box stores, condominiums, and gentrified, cookie cutter housing taking its place". I don't know how much of that I hear in the piece, although there is a general feeling of moroseness and lamentation that comes through. Apparently fluidity and grace is the duo's signature, which I thought was just a nice line from the label but it appears to be true here - this is a fully-realized, borderline epic piece comprising electronic drones, ambience, noise, and knob-twiddlling euphoria. Norse and Yates move deftly through expertly-crafted caverns of engulfing sound, striking the perfect balance between all the aforementioned buzzwords I just ran through. Never too over-the-top or understated, the duo function as close to a single mind as you could ever hope to achieve in this genre - the soundscapes one will lay out always compliment what the other is doing to perfection, weaving and melding together in sublime fashion. If you took the best portions of, say, My Cat is an Alien's extraterrestrial excursions and gave them a harsher bent, you wouldn't be too far off from Harm Stryker's sound, but whereas the Italian duo sometimes seem to get to caught up in their own orbit, Harm Stryker keep it all anchored to the earth and get it done with style. Hey, if you're thinking of ordering that insane "Untited" 3xCD noise compilation from Public Guilt, do yourself a favor and take this one too. It's four clams well spent, trust me. Only 100 pieces around, though.

The last two discs of the night come courtesy the ever-reliable Abandon Ship label (in addition to a couple of other quality tapes to be discussed at a later date). To date I've been pathetically ignorant re: New Zealand's the Futurians but I guess you're never too old to learn, and I'll start here with "Zenit" thank you very much. I at least had a general idea what they were like - Blastitude calls em "totally tranced-out sci-fi garage garbage rock" among other very positive things, and it's to my understanding that whereas they usually use vocals and drums, both those things are absent from "Zenit". In fact, this record sounds a lot like its cover looks: punk rockers into Moogs and synthesizers and drum machines and other decidedly non-punk rock instrumentation. That all filters through mighty well on the opening stomper "Genetic Futurian" - way crude high-pitched synth drones and general gizmo fuckery over a thick as hell, gut-busting percussive slosh. The other three tracks are a bit more restrained - "Laika" retains the crumbling percussion but a dizzying keyboard loop is lazily plastered atop, but "Black Gull" is an excercise in droning and blips that could be R2D2 contributing guest vocals to Sunn O)))'s "Bathory Erszebet". The near 10-minute "Nuclear Future" is the real ace in the hole though - supremely minimal near-dance beat that slowly trails off, leaving the listener with an almost rudimentary drum machine rhythm, surely as close to top 40 techno as these cats are ever gonna scrape. Totally weird and totally intriguing, I now wish to hear their more rockist pieces 'cause this must border on near-academia for them. Totally righteous, mind you.

Buck Paco seems to be a band named after its frontman Buckland Oswald Paco, though who knows if such a person even exists. Other folk contained in the "et al." portion of the title include Eric McDade, Wayne Ford, and Melody Kruczier. Never heard these guys before either though they once shared a 12" with fellow Philadelphians Bardo Pond, so maybe you know em. For a band with "over 100 songs" in their repertoire, they seem to release precious little, which is cool by me. Gives me a chance to catch up on a band, for once. By the artist/title alone I was sorta expecting some Alvarius B/Uncle Jim type strands and I guess there's a bit of that here, but considering this is a group and not one guy, there's more of a full band thing: Paco plays guitar and sings, McDade plays guitar and bass and sings, Ford handles guitar and bass and samples, and Kruczier does percussion, whistling, and cello. Though not everybody and everything is featured on each of "I've Wasted My Breath"'s five tracks. Though the communal aspects might suggest Wooden Wand & the Vanishing Voice, these guys seem to worship at the throne of Quicksilver, the Dead, Blue Cheer, Crazy Horse, etc. rather than, say, Comus or Vashti Bunyan. Which is to say they're imbuing most of their songs with a sublime sense of Americana crossed with the blues crossed with psych rock and an appreciation for the repetition and general low-slungness of the Dead C. Which is all good in my books. "48 Hours and No White Elephants", "Reciprocate" and "I'm Not Sure What It Meant, But I Know I Meant It" are all examples of taking one fried riff and driving it into the sun, being mindful of a high distortion level and not much else. "Don't Tell Me" approaches Kyuss' scorched-earth lanquid stoned isms, and "Lonely Man's Walk" buddies up Neil Young solo free-thinks with noisy static...kinda like trying to listen to Neil Young on the radio in a tunnel. I think I'd have to hear even more to make a safe judgement, but, like the Futurians disc before it, I'm certainly intrigued. Maybe time to make a few more of those 100 tunes available, what say?

Click here to listen to MP3 samples from the above albums


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