Emil Beaulieau - Emil Has A Relapse CDR
Ahh, Emil. Always there for me. He’s hardly the prolific fellow he once was, but I always eagerly await a new Beaulieau platter to rock out to. It’s a weird thing, because it seems a lot of noise fans really like Emil Beaulieau, but nobody ever mentions him in their list of favorite noise artists. Why is that? Is it the sweaters? The dancing? The way his spoken interludes seem to almost be satirizing the thing they’re claiming to love (i.e. noise recordings)? Hell, I don’t know. I know Emil is one of MY favorite noise musicians! I’ll say it, loud n’ proud.
If you aren’t familiar with the Emil experience, his weapon of mass destruction is a four armed turntable named after its creator, the Minutoli. Yep, four arms, at least a few of which are locked into fixed positions (as in they don’t glide toward the center of the record), thus allowing for lots and lots of on-the-spot lock grooves (as in the same 1.8 seconds of music over and over again, and again). If you’ve seen him on videos or live, you’ll notice that each of the arms is a different type…there’s a real classy, high-end looking one, and one made out of white plastic, like you’d see on My First Record Player. Most likely a variety of different needles in them too (is that why RRRon used to have "Record Fair and Needle Exchange"s? Was he collecting people’s jacked-up needles to give to his pal Emil?), and I think each arm goes to its own channel in a mixing deck. Thus, most albums are based around manipulations of one album, or one set of albums. He’s attacked Japanese noise ("Kill The All-Noise Japanese Artists), Stomach Ache Records ("Dedicated To Charlie Ward"), the "Serial Murder" 7" series ("Abusing the Little Ones"), and my personal favorite, "Anti Performance," where he played the infamous RRR "Anti-Records," albums that had been modified with sandpaper, razor blades, dirt, and probably some unmentionable things found in the Lowell canal.
The title gives this one away…Emil plays the Relapse Records catalog. For those just joining us, Relapse (a pretty big grind/gore metal label and distro) made a ham-fisted attempt at being a noise label and distro, via their side-label, Release. They put out some good (and LOUD! Mastered so the deaf person on the other end of the block could enjoy it with you) noise records, and sold lots of stuff that was crazy hard to find, but realized one day that there aren’t that many noise fans out there, and that they could either pay thousands to have another Masonna record pressed which might sell 10,000 copies, or they could press another Mortician record and actually have enough money afterward to eat at somewhere a li’l classier than White Castle. "Emil Has A Relapse" was recorded at the tail end of this era, and thus was never released until now.
Me, I can’t help but like this record. It has metal, it has noise, it has a groove (after a fashion), it has Emil’s voice (a voice equally as distinctive and memorable as any of Chuck Jones’ or Paul Frees’ characters), invoking the spirits of extremity ("Be-YOND Ba-rutal! Be-YOND Sick-NESS! This is the sound of worms burrowing into your FOREHEAD! Hnnn-yeeeah."). And then it gets right down to rocking! The minutoli is such a wildly corrosive force, I’m surprised it’s never hurtled itself off a table in a fit of derangement. Since each track is labeled with the artists being savaged, you might recognize some of your favorite records, like I did with track one, a hack’n’slash job on possibly the finest grindcore record of all time, Anal Cunt’s "Morbid Florist."
Because Emil’s set always seems violently improvised (more so than most, he seems to decide ON THE SPOT what’s going to happen next), the methodology doesn’t always correlate with the band being played. While Deceased and Neurosis are played in almost musical fashion, Mortician and A.C. are thrown right into deep end of the pool, kicking and gagging for one more moment above the waterline before being pants’d (or is that "trunk’d"?) by the bully, Mayor Beaulieau himself. Of course, he plays a few Merzbow and Masonna tracks, which can’t help but turn out more thick and massive. There’s also a lot of variation here from track to track…only the classic "Memories" (which contains his covers of Led Zeppelin’s "Rock & Roll" and Deep Purple’s "My Woman From Tokyo") changes more from track to track. Or maybe "Dedicated to Charlie Ward." Personally, I think they’re all great, and tend to buy Emil records before I even finish reading the entire title of the record, but for those of you that are considering getting one for the first time, this or "Memories" should do you right. If you have more than Black Sabbath than a greatest hits or "Paranoid," though, or if you’ve actually owned any grindcore record and listened to it FOR FUN, it’s gotta be this one.
HOWARD STELZER/JASON TALBOT - RECENT WORK CDR
Howie and Jason, like Wolf Eyes, started out with a pretty wide palette of sounds, which they’ve whittled down intensely and determinedly into a tight lexicon or creaks, skreeks, whistles and ponks. Howie plays tapes, manipulating the drive motors with his fingers (he’s nimble with the FFD/RWD too) and amplifying the sounds of the tape player itself through contact mics. Jason used to just spin records on his turntable, but now makes as much, or more, use of objects and things against the needle to coax more unique sounds out. The two are the closest I’ve seen in this part of the world to being a musical analogue to Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock…neither group is afraid of long periods of silence (who, excluding the micro-soundists, since the glory days of the AACM can say the same?), both prefer quick punches and lively shocks to duration, and both groups realize that making music is fun! Sometimes you’ll lean in real close when Talbot gets something long and low going on his turntable (by S&T standards, "Long" is about 2.5 minutes…they also know that a lot of jaded noise types still think of music in terms of punk song lengths), like a William Parker bass solo, and sometimes, you’ll just giggle with glee as the two of them dance around their equipment while something like a vocoder’d Spike Jones gargling solo bops your nose.
"Recent Work" was recorded, I bet, right off the mixing board, at a show on the same night as the Kapotte Muziek set reviewed elsewhere on this site. Both shows were two nights after I saw the bands play here at ODUM in Chicago. In both cases, the shows are similar to the ones of two nights before. Until their "Songs" CD comes out on Intransitive, this is the closest we’ve come to a full-length Stelzer/Talbot album, and it’s a corker. Also like the Shimpfluch bands (except Sudden Infant), it’s common (but no insult) to mention somewhere in the review that all their albums sound pretty much the same (more like continuing research in a narrow field rather than being played out). This sounds like every Stelzer/Talbot show I’ve seen and every recording I’ve heard, just as "Psycho-Physical Tests & Trainings" sounds pretty much the same as "Koter." As a wiser man than me (though I can’t remember who) once said, you’ll like this if this is the sort of thing you like.