Haare - Psychedelic Funeral / Jarl - Negative Rotation (Abisko CSs)
Abisko is a two year-old tape label run by a fellow named Tommy out of Sweden, but these two tapes from Haare and Jarl are the first I've heard from the project (same for the Haare and Jarl projects too, so it's all news to me!). Other names to have been run through the Abisko ringer include Enema Syringe, Jazkamer, The Rita, Government Alpha and Mania so I kinda knew what I was getting into with these two offerings. Not exactly smooth jazz, you could say. Because a lot of those artists and bands produce very harsh noise recordings. And smooth jazz is quite the opposite of very harsh noise recordings indeed! Incidentally these are the only two Abisko tapes presently on the market with the others having come and gone, so despite Tommy serving notice that future editions won't be so desperately limited, you're still gonna have to hurry if you want to wrap a talon around these babies. 130 copies of the Haare a(a)re out there and 150 of the Jarl.
Haare is the nom de plume of a one Ilkka Vekka of Finland who's been at it since at least 2002, with various shapes appearing on Freak Animal, Foxglove, Kult of Nihilow and Chondritic Sound. Like I said, I ain't never heard a word from Ilkka to date, but I have to say the cover and the title of his tape truly gave away the game before I hit play, and that's not a bad thing. When you've got a title as instantly classic as "Psychedelic Funeral" and an unbelievable drawing of some kinda skull/serpent/demon/lightning brainhump on your cover, well you're batting with runners in scoring position in my book. This tape features two 15 minute pieces across two sides, with the first one being the title track and the second as "Bardo Thodol", and both are blood dusting sides of searing noise metal crunch akin to loop tapes of airplane crashes, trainwrecks, and other such disasters with its unflappable start-to-finish sinus bursting manifesto. But true indeed to the title (and to other Haare recordings, so sez Abisko), there's definitely an inherent psychedelic dosage to these two stretches, with a heap of delirious oscillations, fucked EQs and glittering electronic demantia to give it all a breathable, airy, and unquestionably zonked atmosphere. Which is to say it ain't all walls...or maybe it is, but just the exploding plastic inevitable kind. Fathom a fervent amalgam of any and all Hiroshi Hasegawa units - later-day C.C.C.C., Astro/mero, Astral Travelling Unity - with the high-end heavy scream electronics of later-day Whitehouse, and a slap of New Blockaders destructo bust. If it sounds meaty, well that's because it is. So pass a tab, mother.
Jarl is Erik Jarl, also of Sweden so as to keep the Scandinavian connection alive. He's also been around since the early 2000's, appeared on that excellent "Sweetness Will Overcome" compilation Segerhuva put together a while back, and Leech (Navicon Torture Technologies)'s Annihilvs imprint. So, again, there are some clues. According to Jarl himself, "["Negative Rotation"] certainly has a very negative vibe, and now 6 years since it was finished, it's finally released to spread it's negative ejaculations". Amen! Couldn't have said it better myself! But I'll try. "Negative Rotation" is (apparently) 11 tracks spread out over an hour-long tape, and it kicks off with an absolutely brilliant hit of moody, desolate electronics digging out sounds like thunderstorms, exploding volcanos, nuclear explosions, all leading to a razed planetary wasteland at the end of it all. And I'm not kidding, these could just as easily be field recordings, if I wasn't so sure the planet was not in fact a dead orb in the space just yet. But shit, Jarl's got a feel for it. Other tracks on the first side all dabble in the same sort of post-apolcalypse visions - ghostly, cavernous winds blowing...rescue truck sirens of upturned vehicles droning and whining in the distance...thick clouds of smoke billowing upwards in a celstial coanopy...dead air static, heartbeats and iron lung rasps. All rendered so perfectly bleak and disquieting. The first side closes off with a distinctly harsh buzzing that's as loud as the tape ever gets, and gives way to a second side structured around lengthier, more minimalist pieces. One is an absolute trawl that sounds like a record needle scraping against a cold marble slab, an even longer one builds FM3 style burst transmissions at an achingly slow pace. There's other, lengthier stretches of snowblowing windstorms straight out of the Narshe mines while Jarl drags things towards their inevitable conclusion with a chalice of eerily clanging percussion and gently buzzing, resonating, very-much-alive circuitry. It's a totally warped bend on the traditionally insufferable dark ambient genre, taking lessons from Lustmord, the Maeror Tri, Raison d'Etre, and infusing em with new world breath via the likes of Thomas Koner, Francisco Lopez, Steven Stapleton, Maurizio Bianchi, Brian Eno, Andrew McKenzie, and other learned gentlemen of the impossibly bleak soundscape. "Negative Rotation" is far, far above lazy schlock comparisons like the ones I dole out on an all-too-regular basis; I highly recommend dropping the 8 measley clams and finding out for yourself. As a c60, it's bang for your buck, and the tape's duration allows for ample time to fully sink in and chill you to the bones.
One other thing worth mentioning is that I truly love the uniform look Abisko's given to the spines and the back quarter-fold. The simple block-lettered white text on black background for the spine gives Abisko's releases a nice, uniform look on my shelf without robbing them of any individuality. Other labels would be wise to take note.