When I think of noise, I tend to think of it as the apex of extremity; pure sound so harsh it’s going to melt my brain and cause it to come oozing out of my ears. Granted, my introduction to the genre was the ultra-abrasive works of Relapse-era Merzbow (Venereology, Pulse Demon, etc) and Masonna (Inner Mind Mystique); ungodly endurance tests which I later came to appreciate for their ability to make even the most abrasive extreme metal seem like child’s play. Noise certainly has the power to obliterate, but I’ve come to learn that it also has the power to soothe, as evidenced by Crowhurst’s Everyone is Guilty.
Make no mistake, Crowhurst’s sound is as dark and menacing as it gets, and yet there’s something about it that puts me at ease whenever I put it on. I feel as though I could close my eyes and drift away on gently rolling thunderheads of distortion, floating ever forward towards the yawning maw of the abyss. Indeed, Everyone is Guilty is about as far removed as you can get from the torture tactics of the aforementioned Japanese artists, but it is also far more varied and dynamic in spite or perhaps because of the (relatively) more delicate sonics being explored, not to mention every bit as misanthropic.
I think perhaps that’s what draws me to Everyone is Guilty over other noise/ambient releases I’ve sampled over the years; this album feels far more like a cohesive collection of individual songs, rather than just a series of sound experiments. Each track has its own distinct vibe and you can easily tell them apart from one another. This being my first exposure to Crowhurst, I’m not sure if this is characteristic of all mainman Jay Gambit’s work or if it’s a more recent development, but I get the distinct impression here that he’s trying to convey something far more nuanced, to tell a story rather than just make some ears bleed, something I can’t say for most of the noise artists I’ve experienced previously.
Speaking of nuance, Everyone is Guilty is one of the more exquisitely textured recordings of its kind that I’ve encountered in my admittedly limited experience. Gambit has an obvious knack for layering seemingly disparate sounds to create a coherent piece, with every track featuring a myriad of audial nooks and crannies for the ears to explore. Although it may lack traditional structures, the album nonetheless actively engages the listener with its combination of craftsmanship, dynamics and repetition to utterly trance-inducing effect.
Everyone is Guilty is an excellent release, and one that I could see as being a good starting point for listeners interested in getting into noise but looking for a more artistic sound expression and/or not quite ready for the migraine-inducing brutality of the genre’s more extreme artists. Just like Sun Splitter’s equally great Live on WFMU, it’s limited to a hundred copies from our friends at Sol y Nieve and comes with a download code. Fans of everything from ear-damaging power electronics to minimal dark ambient should get on this one, stat.