Earth.Space Noise - Kassette Kvlt III / Kassette Kvlt IV (Earth.Space Noise CSs) / Cave Dudes - Damn Deer (Earth.Space Noise 3" CD-R)
Got a rad package in the other day/season from the Earth.Space Noise Research Laboratories containing two of their Kassette Kvlt tapes and a 3" disc from a duo known as Cave Dudes. The tapes were of particular interest at first glance, with their cases housed inside screenprinted cloth stapled together (which turns out to be an inside out Megadeth shirt. Nice!) with sexy cardstock inserts, paint spattered tapes, and all that other good stuff. Have a look. Paying obvious homage to black metal, the idea behind ESN's Kassette Kvlt series is, and I quote, "an ongoing tribute to the history and future of noise, featuring devoted worshiper's of noise in it's various forms, whom for the sake of noise have cast aside their ego's and proclaimed anonymity". So, they're not compilations as I had originally thought. They're full length noise tapes recorded specifically for the project, only released anonymously. I'm not really sure how going incognito is a way to pay tribute to the genre while keeping it sacred, but I'll leave that question to the philosophers. It's a neat idea, in any event. The Cave Dudes disc boasts a nice package too, colour printed foldover paper and cardboard...nice of the label to go the extra yard for the oft-maligned 3" format, instead of sticking it in one of those flexi sleeves with a Xerox slipped in.
"Kassette Kvlt III" is two great sides of sludgy, swirling, apocalyptic drones, grazed with occasional digital buzzing, bubbling, and burning. There are a couple of voices throughout - one which sounds like the guy reading the news on the car radio in every zombie movie ever, and another which is most certainly live and part of the action. And it's a woman's voice, no less. Atop all the smokey, charred rubble, this woman with the golden throat belts out impressive chorales and incantations in a language I can't identify, but for all I know it could even be English. Whoever she is, her enchanting, siren-like voice does a great deal to set this act (whoever they are) apart from the usual gang of drone/noise scientists without ever becoming an annoyance. In fact, it's the perfect contrast to the scorched earth soundtrack on which she lets her voice roam. I spose a near-enough comparison would be Diamanda Galas, although considerably more restrained and, well, obviously not. The music ain't all that harsh either, but the kind of snarling bile and extended somnabulism that reminds of maybe John Wiese's more contemplative sets, or even a guitarless Sunn O))), if you catch my drift. All I know is that if I had a hand in making this, I'd be way too proud not to slather my name all over it. So hats off to these folk for that.
"Kassette Kvlt IV" is also a coupla side long pieces sounding like solo synth/pedal/oscillator mayhem, all very well done and executed but pretty well by the books so nothing really sticks. The destroyed vocals looming over most of side one were a nice touch, and there were a few heavy sparks on side two that hinted at greater things to come, but on the whole I was underwhelmed. I'm sure you can recognize the irony in me saying it, but after a while all that kind of electronic napalm and scramble doesn't even register like it used to. Not even in terms of quality, but even in so-called harshness - it scarcely makes a dent despite such aspirations, unless you turn it up to 30 or what have you. I guess it's that whole bludgeoning to the point of desensitization thing, which I'm sure has a name and I'm too daft to know it. Heck, I certainly don't hate this or anything, but I just don't think it brings anything new to the table. Sometimes anonymity has it's perks, I suppose!
Cave Dudes is a duo of Bob McCully and Kevin Hainey. I don't know Hainey from a hole in the ground but I do know that McCully operates under the Women in Tragedy moniker, and I'll take this time to relate an amusing Bob McCully story from my personal archives. He played here (as Women in Tragedy) sometime in June and as he was up onstage doing his noise thang, he had to stop the performance and ask if anyone had some sort of battery or something that was apparently crucial enough to stop the show dead to ask around for it. That wasn't the bad part though (since I felt kinda bad) but in the general scramble to get the man a battery, he remarked into the microphone (with a half-smile) "this is tragic" to which someone in the audience shouted out "Bob in Tragedy!". Which was highly amusing to me at the time, though probably somewhat less so to Bob himself. Anyway he went on without the battery and finished the set; it still sounded pretty good but probably wasn't what he was going for. Anyway I assume enough batteries were on hand when McCully and Hainey laid this 17-minute slammer down in August '06, because it's very good from second 001 all the way through. McCully here plays "keys, loops, effects, guitars, vocals" although I couldn't discern a single element of voice here, while Hainey does "loops, guitars, vocals". I wish I could say that it was "the kind of barebones acoustic pasting you'd expect from a duo named the Cave Dudes!" but with all that electricity being used, I hardly think it'd be fair. Still a pasting though - the first half works up a spacey power drone atmosphere through sizzling, mechanized guitar riffing, dissonant blooping and beeping, and oddly percussive strikes which I guess may be the loops referred to in the sleeve notes. It sorta sags in the middle, leaving the (intentional) impression that the two have run out of steam and/or ideas, only to roar back out of the gates, first with sickening blats and then with a colourful stream of over-the-top keyboard ecstacy which is when the track really takes off. Indeed, it's when the Cave Dudes flip out and let loose at their most primitive (aha!) that they're at their greatest.
I guess my favorites are pretty well outlined here, "Kassette Kvlt III" is a gem and the Cave Dudes are far from slouches themselves. Now I'm even more inclined to check out the first two Kassette Kvlt editions - low risk, high reward!