Sunday, August 31, 2014

Review: Cadlag Live Tape

By now, noise is a resource that has been massively depleted, strip-mined and re-processed by both corporate and underground forces, both leaving increasingly vast acculumations of toxic sludge in their wake. The cassette culture re-birth of the last few years has intensified the over-(re)production and dilution of noise as a technique. It's increasingly hard to innovate and to introduce any freshness into noise, and very few even try to do so, with many preferring to (continue to) churn out conformist hipster/improv noise mannerisms and 20th-generation mike feedback squalls in the hope of acquiring cult status or transient critical respectability. 

So it's refreshing to deal with a release which doesn't just manage to avoid almost all of these pitfalls, but instead simply treats them as if they didn't exist. Cadlag is a Slovene collective featuring members of PureH, Dodecahedragraph, TGWFYTD, Extreme Smoke 57 and the transparently-named Earslaughter. They cite sources from grindcore to industrial to live electronic experimentalism blended to produce “drone oriented grid-landscapes and cacophonic palletes of industrial sonorousness, overall fuelled with spasmodic eruptions and convolutions of noise-paroxysma-mathema-machinations.” Another key distinguishing feature is the use of TV noise and VHS signals as part of their soundscapes. Appropriately, the release is available on cassette, VHS and 5-inch reel tape

The two 2013 performances documented here took place at Ljubljana's Noise festival 2013 and the Speculum Artium Trbovlje New Media Festival. In recent years, Trbovlje (birthplace of Laibach) has hosted an increasingly active experimental media and sound scene and this release is a signal of the intensity of some of the actions taking place there. 

The Ljubljana recording, Infundibulum instantly distinguishes itself from run-of-the-mill noise by manifesting a soundfield of very rich shimmering waves. The first 7 minutes manage to be both cavernous and serene. This is followed by a longer noise section which is mostly kept fairly tightly focussed (especially considering this was a live performance). For a while guitars emerge and it flirts dangerously with rockist cliché, but this drops away and is smoothly absorbed back into the wider noise field of rumbles and drones. 

Speculum is (even) more immense and cavernous and it functions perfectly as a live recording in that it very swiftly makes you feel that it must have been incredible to be physically present experiencing this onslaught. To use the old TG slogan, this must have been “Nothing Short of a Total War” that would have put many industrial and Power Electronics groups to shame. There are explosions, laser zaps and even what sounds like a stuka sample. You can sense (or at least imagine) the rippling, traumatised air and the straining sound system. In the final crescendo colossal but also poetic drones emerge before a dead stop and stunned/tentative applause.