Various artists – “Revelation”

Various artists

Category: Noise
Album: Revelation

This review is a long time coming. It’s not so much because the CD was hard to listen to or that I was being completely lazy. I felt I had to read the booklet while I listened to the CD.

Some might see that as a bit neurotic, but that’s the point of this particular album. You see, it’s an experimental noise soundtrack to accompany the short story in the booklet, written by Bugs Crawling Out Of People label founder Squid. So, in a way, this had to be both an album and a literary review.

First, the written aspect: one could try to claim that in the realm of experimental and industrial music that there is room for a variety of writing styles and the more strange and daring the better. But this array of tiny text that I followed along to the music with seems nothing more than a mish-mash of hallucinatory ramblings. It seems to center on the writer reaching a waking of his true consciousness, allowing him to see in the true reality that lies behind our daily lives, something arcane and horrible that borrows easily from Lovecraft and filters it through the modern crustiness of Clive Barker. At the same time, though, the long diatribe has no purpose. It claims “short story” status while delivering no story whatsoever. It explains that the drugs the storyteller has taken has awoken them to the power to see beyond the ken of normality into truth. The mind has warped and reality has fragmented, allowing our protagonist to see into the darker aspects of what surrounds us. He fills page after page with description of vague leviathan horrors and our oozing, tentacled true selves that seem to writhe, spurt, and lurch in every way imaginable, seemingly for the sake of providing even more adjectives to the reader. But it never surpasses the fact that it provides nothing more than a catalog of the ramblings of a drug-frenzied madman. It reads like the mutterings of a deranged homeless man sitting next to you on the bus. It does provide a few minor mentions of a “fight”, some kind of mythical war that our storyteller will take place in outside of his corporeal form, some apocalyptic struggle of wills. But this seems nothing more than a superhero fantasy in the midst of the alleged “revelation” which we are to behold. Once, the character nearly leaps from a balcony railing in his drug-addled stupor, but he never follows through. I can’t help but wonder if this 6-page fantasy wouldn’t have been brought to a more satisfying conclusion if the addict had indeed leapt and, instead of continuing to reveal our reality as meaningless and such things as leaping to one’s demise as irrelevant fantasies of our lie-chained minds, ended up dying on asphalt. The shockingly dense pamphlet ends and you’re left feeling that this writer has spent far too much time reading the randomized clippings of Burroughs while under the influence, because the imitation seems lackluster.

As for the music, that is a bit more noteworthy. Prospero starts the album with the unfortunate theme of clips of the text being read by someone with an annoying nasal voice and no sense of presentation. This revelation of terrible dread and revulsion is read as if the man is giving directions to the local Dairy Queen. What could have been an interesting trope of using clips of grim vocal description is made dull and irritating. Prospero also begins the theme of droning, atmospheric noises, left to ambiently wander around the track, often without a sense of purpose. This theme is continued by Legion Ultra’s heavily filtered meanderings, Asphalt Leash’s dark noise, and Cold Flesh Colony and Iszoloscope’s comparable uses of “the voice,” which Iszoloscope does in a better manner, using good beat structures that are, unfortunately, a bit too buried in their distortion. Casual Coincidence, Nitrous Flesh, and NöRV do more justice to the concept by providing elegantly dark, cinematic background drones and noise, with occasional rhythmic sounds that add well to one’s reading of the passages, if it took you more than the first two tracks to get through. bETON bARRAGE makes the only good use of the vocal samples by distorting them to static and providing other static noise in accompaniment, giving a much better sense of the deluded and incoherent mind than much of the dark atmosphere. Pneumatic Detach and Scrap.edx show why I’ve heard their names before by providing decently danceable and rhythmic powernoise structures with less distortion than one would imagine and a good usage of electronic sounds. Sedarka goes totally against the grain and gives the listener nothing more than analogue squelches.

All in all, it is an interesting experiment in crossbreeding experimental music with experimental literature and there are merits in the idea of thematic compilations that allow musicians to add to the artistic interpretations of a writer, but this lacks the character that it will take to revolutionize the idea. Maybe someday we’ll have a dark and taut horror novel with accompanying experimental/noise soundtrack or cyberpunk literature with an appropriate electro-industrial soundtrack. For now, we’ll have to leave soundtrack accompaniment to film.


from ReGen Magazine (~5/2005)