Friday, October 2, 2009

Swim Ignorant Fire – Haircuts [No Label]/Jamison Williams – Onassis Project [Closet Sorcery]

A couple of recent releases here both digging in the squalid sandbox of noisy electronics.
This Haircuts CD-r is a self-released repress of an earlier release on Scotch Tapes. Swim Ignorant Fire is the solo guise of Stephen Holliger who plays in Veyou with Nick Hoffman (Katchmare), a duo which made one of the coolest tapes of the year back in January.
“Seeds on a Sunday Wedding” kicks things off with a twitchy, glitchy beat, keyboard swells and a creepy manipulated sample of singing. Weird but also weirdly comforting. That feeling disappears with “Marc Ribot can Kiss My Furry Ass!” a pairing of loud, scratchy beats and manipulated guitar melodies. I dig a sample of a live snare that comes into play in the second half of the track. Still not sure what Ribot did to anyone though, I always liked that dude’s playing. “Come to Pop Pop” brings back that weird ghostly singing and sets it to a weird distorted waltzing melody. “I Just Got Shot in the Love Handle” reminds me of a piece of music from Requiem for a Dream, which is awesome to say the least. Super groovy, grimy, crunchy and melodic. Very cool jam. “Take Something with You” brings back that ghostly singing but this time over a surprisingly straightforward arrangement. The track is mostly unfettered acoustic guitar with a few fragments of beats here and there. The placement of the acoustic guitar works incredibly well, creating a brief oasis in the middle of the record from the dirty machines that usually dominate it. “GPA Won’t Stop Being Epic” makes up about a fourth of the album’s length. It continues with acoustic guitar as well as televangelism and rave beats. “The Fall of Leaves” features a thematically driven recording of trudging through leaves, with a very pretty reversed melody. That ghostly singing sample reappears here though it doesn’t totally gel with everything else going on in the track though there’s a nice lilting accordion near the end. “Let You Down” and “I’m All Better” continue in the mellow tradition of the second half of the album; I think the latter is the better of the two though. The short closer “New Dress” joins a bristling Velcro beat with manipulated vocals and a simple guitar melody.
Onassis Project by Jamison Williams uses some similar elements as Swim Ignorant Fire (samples, scratchy electronics) but flows through a much harsher vein. Apparently there are five tracks on this tape, “Bouvier-Kennedy” “Christina O” “MARIA CALLAS” “Nineteen Seventy-Five” “Myasthenia Gravis” however my ever discerning ears hear no tracks at all. There’s “Side A” and “Side B” and that’s all I can make out. The first side is steeped in manipulated distortion and cut up vomity vocals. It settles into no less stable territory of pitch manipulations that alternately sound like free sax and a tyrannosaurus rex. Vocal samples attempt to be heard but its pretty futile. Williams works pretty much unhinged from any concept of melody and rhythm for the most part, so when two pitches that sound nice together end up side by side, it immediately catches attention if only for a split second. By the end there are legit saxophonics, though Williams is only credited with sound manipulations so my hypothesis is he had been manipulating a recording of saxophone the whole time. “Side B” picks up roughly where “Side A” left off. Combining free jazz dynamics with mechanical textures, the aggressive opening section calms down, relatively, for a little bit leading into a near melodic passage. Most surprisingly, an unmanipulated saxophone pops up for a few seconds of slow blues. A denser, darker, noisier section usurps this though. This section actually comes as a relief because it’s not being changed every two seconds. The tape comes to a close crumbling into more free sax before bottoming out completely into noisy squelch. I prefer the second side cause its constructed tighter, rather than the willy-nillyness of the first side.
The most interesting thing is that this was apparently recorded back in August 1995. To my ears it sounds like it could have been recorded in August 2009. I don’t know if that means we’re behind the times or if Williams was ahead of them. Maybe noise is just getting to be universal like rock n’ roll, where there’ll always be a spot for it at any place in time, I don’t know.
Haircuts is available from the Swim Ignorant Fire myspace but limited to 14. I’m guessing the Jamison Williams tape is still available but I don’t know what happened to the Closet Sorcery website.

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