Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Jenny Lives with Smell & Quim and Harsh Noise Movement (2017)


To come clean in the event of it not being obvious from a quick glance over previous sermons delivered from this pulpit, I'm somewhat out of my depth with the whole noise thing, having generally lost sight of the scene at some point back in 1988. There have been odd things encountered more or less by accident which have chimed with me loudly since then, but they're exceptions rather than part of any rule, and in any case have mostly been the work of Smell & Quim. Harsh Noise Movement's board of directors recently pointed me in the direction of their retrospective Five Years of HNM Records compilation, and while there's some fine stuff on there, the fucker is four hours long and I still haven't made it to the halfway point. This, on the other hand, is a bit more easily digested, relatively speaking. It has also, rather handily, been pressed onto a lovely wax cylinder like we had back in the olden days and is therefore less terrifying, having arrived at my residence by agency of the pony express rather than being beamed direct to my telly through a load of wires like on Star Trek.

Pissing about aside, Harsh Noise Movement - meaning the label in this instance - have a quite different aesthetic to many of those other noise wankers, probably just as disgusting, but in a funnier, more interesting way, and without any of the accidentally high fiving of Adolf Hitler one occasionally encounters in this field. Here we have two quarter hour slabs of noise along the lines of what you hear when stood behind a jet engine at full throttle, with the general effect approaching purification through noise rather than horror; and with the whole thing lasting only a little over thirty minutes, the blast is timed about right. As with a lot of noise, at least that I've heard, beyond sheer brute force, information content is more in the way of a serving suggestion or a flavour delivered by means of titles and artwork, so More Teabagging, Vicar?, which begins with a sample of the Tetley tea folk does something quite different to whichever Atrax Morgue album you last listened to; and it's actually fucking difficult to describe what that is, beyond that I'd recommend it. Smell & Quim's contribution is similarly, as you would expect, wonderful, inviting the listener to pick out patterns and repetition within the wall of noise, and it sounds as though there's an orchestra walled up in there somewhere.

Although I can't listen to a lot of it, the appeal of this sort of thing is, at least for me, that for something which you might think all sounds the same, it really doesn't, and there's absolutely no telling what kind of gibbering insanity you're likely to encounter just beyond the limit of hearing within these screaming, distorted edifices. I'm just glad that someone is keeping this stuff interesting.

Physical object available from Love Earth Music, if they still have any, or bag a download direct from HNM Records.

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