Load Records. Oh sweet Load Records. You're not good at all, but I sure do like ya!
Load Records specializes in releasing experimental, noisy records by artists like Lightning Bolt, Sightings and The USA Is A Monster. Some Load releases are full of truly creative and inspiring forays into unchartered noise rock terrority. Others are absolutely goddamned unlistenable piles of shit noise. However, as earache-creatable as some Load releases can be, they are NEVER, EVER uninteresting. And this is what's kept me buying up CDs by such...umm... well, what's a word for a person who records something but isn't necessarily a 'songwriter,' 'musician' or 'artist'? At any rate, some of the fine "people with a tape recorder" whose works currently bring down the overall quality of my CD collection include Astoveboat, Brainbombs, Coughs, Fat Day, Fat Worm of Error, Friends Forever, Hawd Gankstuh Rappuh MC's, The Hospitals, Thee Hydrogen Terrors, Kites, Metalux, Necronomitron, NOXAGT, Pleasurehorse, Total Shutdown, White Mice, John Von Ryan, Vaz, and Wizardzz. And one more! Who would that be? Why, since you asked, I'll TELL you!
Ha ha! Little Beatles joke for you! I really meant Ultralyd.
According to Load's web site, Ultralyd features an 'all-star line-up of some key Norwegian improvisers.' This would be Kjetil Brandsdal of NOXAGT on bass, Frode Gjerstad of the Circulasione Totale Orchestra on altosax and clarinet, and the guitarist/drummer juggernaut of Anders Hana and Morton J. Olsen who have played together in about a hundred bajillion bands including their brand new duo "MoHa!". So essentially they're like The Traveling Wilburys of Norway.
From the very moment that Kjetil "Otis Wilbury" Brandsdal slams full-force into his heavily distorted bass and Morton "Lefty Wilbury" J. Olsen begins thrashing away at his kit at the intro of "Beautor," you just know you're in for a wild ride down that Holiday Road!
Incidentally, about three weeks ago, I accidentally wrote and copyrighted a ribald parody of Lindsay Buckingham's "Holiday Road," better known as The Theme To National Lampoon's Vacation. It goes as follows. If you know the original, please do sing along, but make sure there are no children under 18 in the vicinity first, because it's dirty!
I found out long ago
(oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh!)
It's a long way down if you swallow my load
(oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh!)
Swallow my lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-oad!
Swallow my lo-o-o-o-o-o-oad!
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
(oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh!)
Jack me off with the head of your dick
(oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh!)
And then Eugene Levy goes, "Oh, you didn't order the uhh... Metallic Pea?"
And Chevy Chase goes, "Metallic Pea? No! Antarctic Blue! The Sports Wagon! This isn't even the right model!"
And then Eugene Levy goes, "The Family Truckster is a damn fine automobile, beats the hell out of the Sportswagon, but hey! We wanna make you happy!"
It's around this point that I'm generally accused of veering from parody into simply breaking the law.
As for The Traveling Wilburies of Norway, they are improvisational artists. But really loud ones. The distorted bass usually just makes a bunch of subterranean rumbling noises, the guitar basically goes "squeeeeeeeeeee!" with feedback or high-pitched speed-strummed strings, the brass section (Frode "Charlie T. Jr. Wilbury" Gjerstad) bleats without a tune in the world, and the drummer changes beats, tempos and time signatures every 7-8 seconds. Only two of the seven tracks feature an actual 'riff' of any sort (in this case, in the sort of a consistent bass line), and one of those is played so slowly that you're three minutes in before you realize it's actually a riff and not just a bunch of random notes!
I've never been dishonest in my life (except when I told my wife she was pregnant so she'd marry me), and now's no time to start: improvisational music is not really my 'bag.' I know there are many who enjoy it, but to me it just sounds like a bunch of made-up shit that anybody could do. There are certainly ideas behind these improvisations ("Ejaculatorium" slowly builds from an empty spacious bit of buzzing and loose tweeting into a fuller and fuller collection of rhythmic noise into this HUGE BLAST OF INTENSE MINDBLOWING NOISE!!!! before ending with a lone squiggly squiggle squiggling away; "Brown Degree" is one distorted chord followed by two minutes of its remnant dessicating feedback), but not enough to prevent me from desiring a bit more in the repetition department. If you're into randomness though, by all means buy all means!
It's worth noting that I, a man (or lad) who really isn't into improv still finds enough of interest in this "2 hooks in 7 songs" release to give it a 5 instead of a low 3. The reason behind this is that Ultralyd's free jazz noise/rock is not simply a bunch of fucking around -- it's a bunch of brutal, hard-hitting, monstrous fucking around. The drummer is incredible, the noise (when sufficiently dense) is exciting and all-enveloping, and the sense of urgency behind such fast-paced blasts of go-nowhere racket as "Glottality" is almost palpably tangibly wangibly woo!
On the other hand, most of the CD sounds like a Flipper session gone nauseatingly amelodic.
That reminds me of a little joke I'm about to make up:
Q. Why is the sky blue?
A. Hey, the name's Prindle, not Tyndall!
Ha ha! Wheeeeee! You can tell that one to your friends too. It's even funnier if your name rhymes with 'Tyndall'.
POST-SCRIPT: Because I've already gotten a couple of reader comments about this, let me stress that none of the Load bands I mentioned actually 'bring down the value of my collection.' I was just naming every Load artist that I own CDs by. Some are great, some not so great. :7)
I've never been lonely and bored enough to take umbrage with a review - but now I have to! First up, I agree that Ultralyd's 'Chromosome Gun' is effectively a large pile of poop - and I can tell that you're disappointed that their stuff isn't as good as you'd wanted. I mean, why else would you have so much Load Records stuff?
HOWEVER! You give some sassing to two Load bands that are frankly awesome - Noxagt & Astoveboat. Noxagt do what Ultralyd try to do - make outlandish, feral, driving instrumental rock with growly, bear-like bass and bashy-bashy drums played underneath a weird instrument - in their case, a massively overdriven viola. Their latest release (The Iron Point) is a fantastic moment in noise-rock/improv for me - it's visceral and has all the impact of a noise record - yet there are loads of hooks, solid backbeats, punkish thrashouts, epic transcendtalism and just really stunning ultra-maximalist interplay. The record sounds huger than the large rock formation on the cover. Astoveboat - well, you can't really call them noise. They're a stripped back rock-band if anything. They've got a sound on their one album that for kicks at home, I've tried to rip off - but I can't get the drums to sound that deep, and I can't get the bass to sound so insistent and pulse-like - and the echoing keyboards - wow! Personally, as a fan of Moby Dick, I'm a fan of their work, which is primarily about whaling and other literary allegories. Give these men their props!
I agree on most of it - Load is a rather interesting label - and I daresay Ben, who runs it, can probably finance a wider range of noisy 'crap' now Lightning Bolt have hit relatively big. Lightning Bolt, The USAISAMONSTER, Prurient & Wizardzz are all excellent bands, and they have some great 'novelty' stuff too - you can't take Friends Forever too seriously. They used to perform in their van and wind up a large goalpost for people to kick field goals during their set. I mean, come on - you don't get THAT with Mike Nesmith!
I have all four of their albums and except for the one (nameís escaping me) that sounds gothy, they are really good. Noise rocky but with hooks galore.
Rune Grammofon. Oh sweet Rune Grammofon. I've never heard of you, but apparently you're based in Norwegia.
Remember in my Chromosome Gun review when I said that I was awarding it "a 5 instead of a low 3" because "Ultralyd's free jazz noise/rock is not simply a bunch of fucking around -- it's a bunch of brutal, hard-hitting, monstrous fucking around"? Well, welcome to a low 3's worth of spacey, abstract and empty fucking around!
(It's also occasionally funky, but that aspect didn't fit into my desired dichotomy so I pretended it didn't exist)
But first, since this is www.dog.com, let's talk about dogs.
1. People who are assholes say, "Oh, dogs are meat robots. They don't love you; they just get excited when they see you because they know you give them food." Wrong. Henry has a lot of human friends who have never fed him a thing. "Oh, then dogs just get excited to see people who they know will treat them nice." Absolutely - just like people do. When was the last time you got excited to see somebody who treats you poorly?
2. People who are dicks say, "Oh, all dogs are the same. They all run around the couch with a sock in their mouth, and chase squirrels, and roll in stink. You've seen one, you've seen 'em all." To which I reply, "Oh, all people are the same. They all like listening to music and watching movies and playing sports." Dogs have their own species interests the same way we do. The differences are in the details.
3. People who deserve a fist up their ass say, "Dogs don't even have any self-recognition, or whatever that term is I can't think of." (a) We've all seen YouTube videos of a dumb little dog barking at the dog it sees in the mirror, (b) our local pet hospital has a photo of a chihuahua in their door window, and the first time Henry saw it, he barked, thinking it was a real dog, (c) Henry often looks at me and my wife through the mirror - we'll look up and see his eyes looking at the mirror directly at our eyes, so he definitely recognizes us, and (d) if Henry saw 'another dog' in the mirror, he would go crazy because he can't stand having other dogs in his home. Conclusion: Henry sees and recognizes himself as the dog in the mirror. I don't know why it doesn't interest him though. You'd think he'd at least comb his hair every once in a while.
As for the CD, it is not at all brutal or hard-hitting like the first one. They create a very interesting atmosphere through the use of outer-spacey feedback, and the closely-mic'd drums sound crisp and fantastic. Unfortunately, there is far too little actual music, and way too much boring go-nowhere improv shit garbage crap. A couple of tracks do feature simple sax grooves or bass funkiness, but only the eerie-yet-funky double-bassed "Low Waist" and King Crimsony noise/drone groove "Figurae" live up to the promise of the premise. The rest just sounds like they're floating out in space, playing dull improvisational jazz.
Other points of interest include:
- the dark guitar arpeggios of "Pentassonance II," which a more conscientious band would have used as the basis for an actual song.
- the way "Debitage" sounds like a celestial Pink Floyd noise break. Granted it isn't any GOOD, but still.
- the ear-piercing racket that renders unlistenable the awesome drunken rhythm riff of "Musica Imperativa."
- the way "Comphonie IV"'s combination of slow jazz notes and sci-fi feedback makes it sound like the entire city of New Orleans is floating away across the galaxy (perhaps due to a hurricane)
Every other track is a bunch of boring random notes -- mood, not music. Maybe the CD title is a joke?
Heck, maybe the whole CD is a joke. You know Norwayans, always having a laugh with the blokes and their birds down the pub.