Anyone bemoaning a dearth of worthwhile albums in noise isn’t looking or listening hard enough. Thanks to established imprints, SoundCloud streams, Bandcamp accounts, and more, the freeform, the mannered, and the frankly insane is everywhere. What follows is a smattering of the best that the international noise scene had to offer in the first quarter of 2015.
Eye, The Future Will Be Repeated (Ba Da Bing)
When it comes to scuzz-rock geography, never sleep on New Zealand. Though the Dead C, the Clean, Tall Dwarfs, and the 3Ds leap to mind immediately, keep an ear open for Dunedin-based Eye, an emerging quartet featuring current and former members of Double Leopards, Sandoz Lab Technicians, and the Terminals. Third LP The Future Will Be Repeated is blurred and indecisive in all of the best ways, a half-dozen awesome out instrumentals that dodder in place delightfully. On opener “Loader,” Eye overflow with effects and samples, coming off like a less fastidious Mountains. “Owls at Noon” howls with cavernous feedback and flaunts shuddering, elephantine squeal, a skeletal backbeat spattering beneath. By the time the mutant piano-jazz of “Gentle” arrives, your consciousness will have been turned inside out.
A Raja’s Mesh Men, A Raja’s Mesh Men (Vanity Pill Tapes)
In this, his most recent guise, London’s James Shearman conjures an approach that combines sandstorm scrape and funnel-cloud whirl. “All The Dead…” roars like an extended depth charge; “Moss Cage” vacillates from between-radio-dial snarl to feedback squeal; there’s a distinctly vivid feel to “Human Information” that elevates it above standard-issue harsh-wall noise fare. But the crown jewel here is “Redux”: vape-cloud muffled vocals wafting, doe-like, through a subterranean gauntlet of barbed, variegated distortion, a horror mini-movie for the ears.
Witchbeam!, Shadow Musick Vol. 2 (Tranquility Tapes)
On the second installment of the Shadow Musick series, the Cleveland-based half of Telecult Powers moves away from jungle ambiance and starch immersion, opting for a widescreen grit’n’grimace where his modified synths are granted a fuller sentience. The resulting power surges segue between raw noise, rippling siren psych, and the queasy pitter-patter of “Burned Over” on Side A; Side B enervates with worrywart sine-wave drone before stage-diving into acid-house epilepsy and sample-mélange spazz-out. This is top-shelf, trick-or-treat tape miscellany, where there’s every chance that you’ll catch a contact high in the process.
Timeghost, Cellular (Load)
Drawing a bead on Cellular is tricky business. This album crumbles almost everywhere one grazes it, with murmured narrations from Timeghost major domo Adam Morosky (of Providence, Rhode Island) to provide occasional scaffolding. The music itself is an entropic blend of bleeps, clicks, and whirrs, with field-recordings bleeding through — suggesting the dreamy malice of a video arcade at some moments, and goth-rave ambiance or petri-dish fractal randomness at others. Quoting Boredoms’ Soul Discharge and, more liberally, aspects of Melt-Banana’s Cell-Scape, Cellular engulfs but never allows you to fully relax. When, on “Phantom Ring,” Morosky asks, “Do you feel something on your leg? / It’s moving now, how do you respond?” he’s sketching the album’s mission statement.
Ishikura Takaaki, Scenic Blue (self-released)
True to its name, Scenic Blue meanders from one representation of open expanse to the next. There’s the title track’s tingly chill, shot through with loose piano chords and electronic dither; the moody, industrial ambient of “The Land”; the dissolving Rorschach magic of “Ablation,” where synthesized strings and guitar scales endeavor to summon an atmosphere equal parts wonder and dread. Japan’s Ishikyua Takaaki favors a hybrid theory, so genre-slotting his compositions can be rough going: Is “Travel Time” goth house, experimental pop, or acid drone? Is “Reminiscence” drone, classical, New Age, or some amalgamation of the three? Either the answer’s somewhere in between — or it just doesn’t matter.