A few years back, I wrote a piece about Release Entertainment, the long lost sub-label of Relapse Records dedicated to experimental sounds of all kinds, from dark ambient to noise to death industrial. One of the the most extreme albums to come out under the Release banner was Merzbow’s Venereology, a salvo of pure, corrosive sound that would serve as a gateway for many metalheads (including yours truly) into the world of harsh noise. I previously bemoaned the fact that Relapse seems to have no interest in preserving the legacy of Release Entertainment, but perhaps they’ve come to their senses at least somewhat, because in honor of Venereology‘s twenty-fifth anniversary, they’re giving the album a rather lavish-looking vinyl reissue, replete with remastered sound and re-touched artwork, as well as three previously unreleased bonus tracks.
WARNING: This is not one of my usual videos of me sitting in front of the camera and talking. This is a 5 minute “micro documentary” celebrating twenty-five years of Merzbow’s harsh noise masterpiece, Venereology.
Listen and purchase: https://merzbow.bandcamp.com/
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One of the more interesting developments in the underground over the past half-decade or so is the renewed interest in dungeon synth. This was no doubt brought on by the rise of Dutch practitioner Old Tower, who released the excellent Stellary Wisdom this year on Profound Lore, as well as the recent reissues of Mortiis’ early works, coupled with his recent tours focused strictly on this “era one” material as opposed to his current industrial rock/metal incarnation.
In October of 1988, Sonic Youth released Daydream Nation, an album littered with references to the speculative cyberpunk fiction of William Gibson. While I have never read Gibson’s work (though I have seen the god-awful film adaptation Johnny Mnemonic), it is my understanding that his writing predicted many of the technological and cultural developments we now take for granted, including the ubiquitous influence of computers and the Internet on our daily lives. Just as Gibson’s writings predicted these developments in technology, so too did Daydream Nation predict developments in rock music; if there is such a thing as “speculative music,” then surely Sonic Youth’s sprawling masterpiece (and really their early career as a whole) falls squarely into this category.
To say that Texas’ Nyogthaeblisz exists on the outermost fringes of black metal would be an understatement. Their highly corrosive, blown-out sound has a lot more in common with an album like Venereology or Inner Mind Mystique than it does with Transilvanian Hunger. There very well might be something resembling traditional black metal lurking under the layers of distortion, but it is buried so deeply that it becomes something completely and utterly alien in Nyogthaeblisz’s hands.
My introduction to Southern California’s Lord Time was 2013’s Drink My Tears, an hour-long mind-fucking odyssey to the outer fringes of black metal, noise and experimental music which ended up being one of my favorite albums released that year. Since then, the one-man project has only gotten darker, harsher and weirder, as evidenced by the utterly warped Mandatory Human Livestock Reduction, released earlier this year on sole member Andorkappen’s own Universal Consciousness.
A few years back, I wrote a piece about Relapse Records’ noise/ambient sub label Release Entertainment, which concurrently exposed me to a variety of experimental sounds as I was in the beginning stages of my deep dive into the worlds of death metal and grindcore. One of the key albums in the Release catalog was Inner Mind Mystique, the seventh full length from Japanese noise provocateur Masonna (aka Yamazaki Maso).