Eli Smith- Generation / Moon Inside
More fresh blood from Milwaukee. Eli Smith has been absolutely tearing up Milwaukee's experimental music underground lately. Recent sets have involved processed acoustic guitar that gets completely mangled and rearranged in Pure Data, pushing a level of technological wizardry that is more than supported by the sonic explorations forwarded by the local guitarist (one who appears in a number of groups including Cairns, Honeymooners, and more). Generation / Moon Inside captures Smith at this moment, distilling the gestures into one holistic and expanding work that demands multiple listens
C. Olivia Valenza- Noumena/Bruises
Fresh Milwaukee blood, bringing dense drones and free improvisations that flutter between heavy and delicate in equal parts. It's the sort of release that seems to cover more ground than it responsibly should, taking a kitchen sink approach that never seems overburdened or weighted down. Guest appearances from Nicholas Elert and Anthony D'Agostino to boot!
Pleasure Thief- Cthonios
Best known for her virtuosic and soulful vocal work in groups like No/No, Cat Ries normally brings a dark, soulful and occultist approach to elctro-R&B jams to her project Pleasure Thief. However, Cthonios finds Ries in a more meditative mode, droning out ambient sounds with barely there vocals mixed deep within the crevices of these two tracks. Deeply spiritual and cleansing. Let the sound wash over you as your mind wanders.
Murder in the Red Barn + Guns Blazing- Space Album/Smell Where the Real Power Is
It seems like a lot of people forgot about the early 2000's math rock scene that formed in Milwaukee and it's a damn shame. A whole group of people inspired by first wave post-rock, early screamo, Chicago-style math rock, and more got together and started a whole bunch of incredible bands. For my money, Murder in the Red Barn was the best of them. Brooding, dark, technical and terrifying, the group sounded like nothing else before or since. All of the bands the members started within that scene, including Guns Blazing, were also incredible. So when I heard that both of these bands hand unreleased albums, I jumped at the opportunity. The Guns Blazing material is the exact kind of ripping math rock you'd expect from those folks. Murder in the Red Barn's "Space Album" is a sci-fi concept album that birthed the Fuiguirnet group. A glimpse into what Milwaukee used to call home and it's remarkable.
During the tour I did in the summer of 2018, I caught a lot of incredible acts but Kyle Flanagan's set in Richmond, VA was a stand out for me. The pacing, texture, dynamic and sense of composition all felt incredible fresh despite the tone being classic American harsh noise. On Mind Eraser, Flanagan comes in with a halting and stilted set of harsh vibes that throw the listener immediately off kilter. It's a short one, but the vibe is beyond strange. Enjoy the ride.
To talk about harsh noise in any of its forms (but especially HNW) without discussing the work of Taskmaster is to leave out one of today's most detailed and skilled craftsmen. Exorbitantly heavy walls of distortion explode through your speakers on every release, but the level of detail in the shifting textures that fills those walls is unparalleled. This release is no exception. Crushing, overwhelming, heavy, and harsh. Another incredible work from a modern day master.
The Smudge + Bachelorette Party + Dan of Earth + Lucky Bone-
We Made Some Sounds
For whatever reason, the organizers of the Milwaukee Maker Faire decided that they wanted to have a noise show at the event. They asked me to set one up and I immediately agreed. Lodged between bumper cars, a gigantic fire breathing dragon, and a bunch of wacky bicycles, some of Milwaukee's best noise artists blazed through ripping sets. Highly diverse and individual, yet cohesive and powerful in it's own way. A great testament to the strength of Milwaukee's noise community at present. Bonus track includes field recordings of all the artists making different things. Enjoy.
To describe Underwear as anything other than an otherworldly, out of body experience would undersell the project. Absolutely broken R&B rhythms slink underneath crooning vocals and glitched electronic bursts of white noise, creating the sense of an alternate timeline in which the broken technologies of a time recently past somehow became autonomous and captured a forgotten pop star. Moments of cohesion underscore the confusion. The lore around the project has already started to grow: stories of the time Underwear’s drum machine (his main instrument) broke but he kept playing for another ten minute swirl around the New Haven underground. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this project is weird and it’s the closest I’ll come to releasing a dance record ever so enjoy it while you can.
Milwaukee’s own MaxMSP mangler busts out another slab of swirling weirdness, this time in the form of a post-industrial ode to ritualistic mysticism. Secrets seem abound on these recordings, a journey into the heart of a digital forest where ghosts of electricity take on a sinister tone. Heavy synth drones swirl and collapse into stereo exercises in early electronic music mayhem. There’s another world on the other side and this just may be a portal.
As Without So Within
Any discussion of cut up noise in the United States that does not include Andrea Pensado is a conversation that is seriously missing the point. Pensado’s work often emerges from a fully controlled amalgam of pitch perfect blasts of harsh noise that surround and embody the stereo field. On “As Within So Without,” the noise artists enacts an ethics of restraint, allowing snippits of a Wiese-esque noise pallett to intermingle with a decidedly New England approach to vocal mania (think I DM Theft Able or Crank Sturgeon) as a subdued sense of terror slowly enters the picture. Without question, this tape captures a master at work.
Submission of Archival Sonic Documentation: Riverwest, WI 2017-2018
Two live recordings, both performed in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee, WI between 2017 and 2018. Bachelorette Party is the duo of vocal/electronics improviser and composer Amanda Schoofs and harsh noise/performance artist Peter J. Woods. Together, the two artists create heavily saturated works of industrial-tinged noise that sway between textural explorations of metal object percussion to crushing walls of distortion. These discordant moments remain stitched together by Schoof’s vocal work which effortlessly transitions from highly polished operatic singing to guttural howls. It’s a dark place, one that won’t let you forget that fact.
The acronym says it all: these three artists unquestionably represent the new wave of Milwaukee harsh noise. Separated from the highly saturated low end sound of the mid-2000’s Milwaukee scene (think Custodian, early Climax Denial, Blessed Sacrifist, or Citizen 2-13), these three relatively new performers pull from a wide range of contemporary, historic, national, and global influences. Elements of black metal, early power electronics, lofi junk noise, and recent harsh noise revivalism all play into this tape, teasing each element to create a wholely new sound. Sexual Discipline, a brand new collaboration featuring all three members, seals the deal: this is the next phase of Milwaukee’s noise history and it crushes.
Collected Discography: 1983-2017
Mixing elements of first wave post-rock, math rock, noise rock and emo, Raffle House could very easily be considered a throwback to the midwest indie scene from the mid-90's. And that's ok, because they unabashedly define themselves as such anyways. Heavy, interlocking polyrhythms play against downtrodden melodies and sparse vocals to create intricately defined but surprisingly catchy songs (despite the odds). Featuring members of Galactic Cannibal, Statures, Living and Wrestling, Mountain Language, and others.
Dan of Earth
Thank you for the pickles- Lu
A few months back, my friend Dan Schierl (of Dan of Earth inventor of the Bibletron line of synths) posted a picture of a thank you note he got from his friend Lu. The note included a drawing of a capybara (one of Dan’s favorite animals) wearing a tie with the moon in the background, Dan of Earth in an off-kilter font, and the phrase “Thanks for the Pickles- Lu” written at the bottom. I told Dan that if he let me use that image I would put a tape out for him and here we are. Two slabs of static harsh noise created with unaffected bibletrons. Side A pulls from the tradition of HNW and Side B treads into a no input mixer aesthetic. Pretty classic “noise tape,” ya know?
Single Sided c19
Put Slogun and Negativland on a spectrum. Yeah, I know. It doesn’t work. I don’t care. Put them on a spectrum. Now think about all of the space on that spectrum. Every single inch. If you can do that, you can start to imagine what MUFF, the newest weirdo from Buffalo (America’s most underrated noise scene, IMO), sounds/looks/feels like. Live sets run the gamut of sonic assaults and acts of insanity, from shaving heads and smashing accordions to pushing audience members only to hug them immediately afterwards and threatening to beat up touring musicians in the ring on sunday. And that’s one set. Nothing ever sits still and every turn in the fun house is unprecedented.
Sitting on Sandwiches / Folk & Gravel
The north east madman returns for another slab of pitch perfect weirdness. A selection of sounds instantly familiar for those in the know but somehow simultaneously separated from past (like every release, affixing the circle sturgeon style). Side A brings the heat with acoustics at the forefront, pushing reeds and words beyond the point of breaking and into a squealed alternate universe folk traditions. Flip it over and the crackled collage of broken tape electronics rubs the salt on. No question- the man/fish is a master of his craft, although I’m still not sure what that craft actually is.
A Bleaker Teen Lip
Downgraded Saved Arrows
Cymbals crack against chains and voices striving to overcorrect skipping records. However, the electricals are intent on trumpeting their own shortcomings, sputtering incoherent threats and veiled aspersions in the erupting din. Side two fantasizes about settling the score, but in striving for succinct extractions the message is only further stretched from the source. The debut release from this new trio consisting of Blake Edwards (Vertonen), Neil Gravander (Lucky Bone), and Peter J. Woods.
Rock & Roll Can and Will Heal Us
No matter which project you pick, to follow Andrew Weathers is to follow a surgical examination of his major influences: American roots music, drone, and ambient music to be specific. Rock & Roll Can And Will Heal Us is no exception. Spatial, melodic guitars sweep over banjo melodies and arpeggiated synths with all elements sounding perfectly at home next to each other as they infect the inner depths of darkness. Some may be skeptical, but after listening a few times the title starts to make perfect sense.
I've Written Pages of Daggers to be Read by your Perfect Fucking Eyes
The king of misanthropic hatred in harsh noise. High pitched, unrelenting waves of electronic squalls that perfectly match the title in question, broken only by the occasional roar of low end rumble. All created with nothing more than a mixer and a loop pedal. Inspired by the short story “Don’t Read This or You MIght Get Poked in the Eye with a Dagger” by Darby Larson (available to read online here.
Justin Marc Lloyd
Elysium Cove Mirror
Another decidedly strange release from this Chicago noise slinger. Hiccuping lo-fi electronics and bizarre samples clash with a surprisingly strong sense of cohesiveness. JML consistently sets himself apart from other noise weirdos by combining an other worldly strangeness with an intricate and dedicated sense of composition and this release is no exception.
Peter J Woods Free Jazz Ensemble
The Foreman. The Woman. The Widow. The Beast.
More of the highly dynamic free jazz from this Milwaukee collective, but this time with a second drummer filling out the sound.
Have you experienced ultimate power? Have you wrapped your tiny fingers around the wheel?
Power electronics performed by two used car salesmen who only want to see you behind the wheel of that car. High end, feedback heavy fury about experiencing the power of the NIssan Altima and living for the deal. You aren't just here to look. You never are.
Bath Salts b/w Spice
A short burst of high end destruction from xAxFxTx. Easily the grossest sounding recording from the group, taking on a more lofi approach. Not for the faint of anything.
This Is The Disease You Chose
Vile hatred from the xAxFxTx crew, focusing on the internet rumors surrounding Amy Winhouse's death. Heavy, rhythmic PE with Woods' signature vocals crashing over the top.
Bridges of Königsberg
The trio of David Collins, Chris Burns and Peter J. Woods getting weird in both the digital and analogue realms. Swaths of sound stutter into the stereo field while slow drones build in the distance. A keen sense of texture tie all four pieces together.
Amanda Schoofs and Peter J. Woods
A newly recorded collaboration of two very different Milwaukee free-improvisers. Schoofs utilizes operatic and experimental vocal techniques while Woods focuses on industrial percusion, turn tables and electronics to create a highly minimalistic and intriguing debut.
Being Ghosts of Reality
If you don't know the work of Being, the moniker of Dayton OH's Luke Tandy, then your missing out on one of the most consistently incredible and meticulously crafted harsh noise acts in the world. Pure sonic worship that pulls apart every single crackle and roar in order to reassemble the mayhem into the most abrasively beautiful mass one can find. Ghost of Reality hits like a sack of door knobs and doesn't back down until its over, bludgeoning with swells and walls of distorted glory. A truly devastating listening experience.
Dr Rhomboid Goatcabin
Over the past few years, Dr Rhomboid Goatcabin has quickly become One of the Midwest’s best kept secrets, a sentiment that anyone who has seen the man live, whether he’s obliterating a toilet or playing a prepared ladder, can attest to. Slunt Vape finds the good doctor at his droney best. Heavy, low end hums lay the foundation for curious scrapes and confusing blips that build and sway over the course of this long, but always engaging, release.
Bug Powder Junkie
One side of distorted degredation and one of psyche-infused drones. A short tape covering the entire industrial gamut. All created from manipulated insect samples.
A Violent Means Til the End
Straight ahead, No Holds Barred harsh noise from this Milwaukee resident. Hold and destroyed samples. Walls of crushing distortion. Nothing else needs to be said.
Peter J Woods Free Jazz Ensemble
Unpublished Studies in Adulthood
Raucous blasts of free jazz fury paired with quiet meanderings and low hanging field recordings. Ramped it up and let it crash back down.
Phoned Nil Trio
Milwaukee Architecture: Vol. V
The final installment in Phoned NIl Trio’s celebration of the architectural achievements of Milwaukee, WI. To finish the series, PNT honors the inspiring buildings that house our two Home Depots. The group celebrates the north side Home Depot with a spastic collection of synth blips and tape hiss and the south side Home Depot with an all-synth drone hymn.
Phoned Nil Trio
Milwaukee Architecture: Vol. IV
The next installment in the increasingly weird Milwaukee Architecture series from Phoned Nil Trio. Low throbs, distant voices discussing meet ups at Applebees, and the every present repetitive tape loops that lodge themselves firmly in your head.
Phoned Nil Trio
Milwaukee Architecture: Vol III
The third installment in PNT’s five part tribute to the architecture of Milwaukee, this time honoring the best in Milwaukee murals. Aurally, the group presents two slabs of bizarre goodness, collaging together field recordings, tape hiss, synth bleeps and quiet industrial percussion textures reminiscent of Dilloway and Crank Sturgeon on a calm day (if he has those). A perfect way to honor doves who are struck by lightning while giving olive branches to eagles and cars that exist in both the second and third dimension.
Phoned Nil Trio
Milwaukee Architecture: Vol. 2
Part II of PNT's love letter to the amazing architecture found in Milwaukee. In this edition, we honor McCormick Hall and the Riverview Senior Citizens Village with harsh blasts and atmospheric waves.
Phoned Nil Trio
Milwaukee Architecture: Vol. 1
PNT's love letter to the amazing architecture found in Milwaukee. In this edition, we honor the Howard Ave. Water Purification Plant and the North Shore Pumping Station with murky drones and weird synths.
Single Sided c26
An Extremely Loud Silence
A noise adaptation of the Samuel Beckett play "Rockaby." Heavy drones slowly die as the actor on stage takes their last breath.
August Cake and the Cardboard Sessions
A truly bizarre duo from Buffalo, playing minimal and spastic scrapings and screeches. Tape hiss, feedback, cardboard solos and a blatant disregard for the musical fourth wall combine to make a truly strange listening experience
The second installment on FTAM from Wes Tank. Highly bizarre and textural hip hop atmospheres.