The Pat – “移動 / 自粛” EP (2014)

thepatMrs. Life in the Vinyl Lane and I have a trip to Asia planned for later this spring, with stops in Seoul, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hiroshima.  I’m sure I’ll be bringing back a DJ bag packed full of vinyl, with even more music on CD in our checked luggage.  So in an effort to get into the Japanese music mindset I pulled this little obscurity off the CD rack, a little something from a band called The Pat that came out back in 2014.  I’m guessing that Holly brought this home from a work trip she took to Osaka back in 2016, but I can’t be sure – it’s possible we picked it up on our last trip to Japan together.  It’s all just a blur at this point.

I can’t tell you much about The Pat other than that I’m kicking myself for not playing this more – I almost certainly listened to it once at some point, and hearing it again today I can’t understand why it isn’t on my iPod.  What I have managed to surmise is that The Pat are a trio from Tokyo, two dudes and a chick, who describe themselves as noise (or more precisely “noize”) and hardcore.  Musically they’re a blend of punk and hard techno, and photos of live performances show drums, synths, and a singer, which feels about right for what I hear on 移動 / 自粛. (♠)

Given that the packaging is in Japanese and that it doesn’t appear to be listed on Discogs, I can’t do much about telling you about specific tracks by name.  I mean, I can tell you that I dig track 10 with it’s long synth notes or the sort of surf-meets-pop-punk of the second song, but it’s really something you need to hear for yourself.  The vocals are raw more shouted than sung while the synth tends to hold longer notes, especially on the low end, functioning almost like a bass.  Most of the album’s 11 tracks are under two minutes long, with only one coming in at more than three minutes, which is perfect for The Pat’s style – get in, do it, and get out before it gets old.

One thing I was able to find out online is that this CD was limited to 500 copies.  It looks like you can still track it down from some Japanese retailers online if you’re interested.  The Pat also posted four tracks on Soundcloud that you can listen to HERE.

(♠)  The Googles tell me this translates to Move / Self-Control.

Krakkkbot – “Blak Musk” (2014)

Baldur Björnsson is Krakkkbot (or is it more appropriate to say Krakkkbot is Baldur Björnsson…?), and he makes music that has the potential to make your frontal lobe liquify, leaving your brain with just it’s oldest, basest parts still functioning and triggering your fight-or-flight response.  Will you run screaming from the room, or will you grit your teeth with determination (possibly biting off a chunk of your tongue in the process) and step into the sonic conflict?

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Krakkkbot put out two albums in 2014, the previously reviewed and sensitively named cassette Amateur of the Year – Crammed with Cock and this vinyl gem Blak Musk.  Let’s be clear – Blak Musk is not for everyday listening (♠).  It is, however, the perfect thing to get you outside of your own head, breaking down those synapses that have been built and then gone stale over decades of cushy living, to allow you the freedom to think differently.  Drone, tape loops, and grating electronics combine to take you out of your own space, creating something that isn’t music so much as it is simply sound.  Call it noise if that makes you feel better, but it transcends labels.

If you’re ready for a challenge, go HERE and check it out.  I’m not sure recommending tracks makes a lot of sense, but if I’m picking favorites I’m going with “Children of Tomorrow – Dying Today” and “They Know You”.  It looks like it’s still available on vinyl there as well – I believe the run was limited to 200 copies.  After all, what do you have to lose?  Besides your sanity?

(♠)  And it if is for you, well…I suggest you go see your doctor.

The Guilt Øf… – “Isolation Room” (2013)

The Guilt Øf… is an industrial duo comprised of Mike IX Williams (EyeHateGod) and Ryan McKern (Wolvhammer).  Their third full-length album, Isolation Room, was released in 2013 and dedicated to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, which Williams rode out along with his girlfriend in their New Orleans home.  Given the dedication and the chaotic nature of Isolation Room, one could almost listen to it as a soundtrack to the lawless and dystopian days and weeks that immediately followed the disaster.

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Isolation Room falls somewhere between noise and industrial, a bit of both, but yet not quite either.  I read an online review of the record coming from the noise perspective that criticized it for being too structured.  I’m not sure that’s a criticism more casual or non-fans of the genre would make, but I agree there is a framework here.  Listening to “The Ideas Ballot” one hears thematic patterns, though they certainly fall outside of mainstream song structures and are more akin to some of the more out there and experimental psych rockers like Les Rallizes Dénudés but coming at you from a more hardcore mindset.  A combination of vocals and samples provide the lyrical content, with the singing mostly screamed and anguished.  I’ve heard and read comparisons of The Guilt Øf… to Skinny Puppy, and I get it at the most elemental level – the rawness, the metallic quality of the sound (metallic as in the actual physical substance that is metal, not metal music), and the sort of anti-music quality of it; but the link is tenuous even if it is useful from a historiographical perspective.

Listening to Isolation Room while sitting on the sofa in my climate controlled home on a bright Sunday morning while drinking coffee and catching images from the living room’s flat screen TV out of the corner of my eye as I type, my experience seems to be the complete antithesis of what is coming out of my speakers.  But there are different ways to connect to music, and the perspectives we bring to the listening experience will influence it.  Decibel put out a piece on the album a while ago that is still online and includes three of the tracks, so if you want to see how your brain interacts with Isolation Room you can give it a listen HERE.

Etat Brut – “Mutations Et Prothèses” (1981 / 2012)

etatbrutEtat Brut were a Belgian noise duo comprised of Phillippe x and Philippe X who were active in the late 1970s/early 1980s.  The online info on the group is sparse, which only heightens the otherworldly feel of their 1981 release Mutations Et Prothèses.

This album was only available on cassette for around 30 years until Sub Rosa put out CD and vinyl versions back in 2012.  It appears the vinyl was limited to 500 copies, 250 in black and 250 in clear green, and given the very distinct sub-niche of industrial noise Etat Brut produced, that was probably an ample run.

Mutations Et Prothèses brings a legitimate industrial sonic palette to the table, with much of the percussion sounding like assorted types of metal, glass, and plastic being struck, with just an underlying bass or drum machine track holding everything together.  The vocals, such as they are, are heavily distorted and often slowed down and sometimes looped, giving the whole thing a haunting and disjointed emotional feel.  If it were the soundtrack to a movie, there would be lots of quick cuts and seemingly disconnected and bizarre images, something your mind simply can’t wrap itself around no matter how hard you try.

The last few years have seen my fascination with fringe music increase.  I’m interested in the outliers, the people making sounds that are so foreign to what is happening in the general world of popular or mainstream music that they almost active defy being labelled as “music”.  Much of it is not enjoyable to listen to, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t often compelling and horizon-opening.  You can hear a bit for yourself below, but be warned – much like there are thing in life you can’t “un-see”, so too are there things you can’t “un-hear”, and hearing this may just change the wiring in your brain ever so slightly…

Auxpan / Oberdada von Brûtal – “Split” Cassette (2014)

When the Iceland-based label FALK (♠) puts something out, it gets my attention.  Not necessarily because I think it’s going to be amazing, though it sometimes is.  But because I know for a fact that at the very least it will be interesting.  I’m always up for something different, and I know that FALK isn’t going to serve up some kind of Nickelback wannabes or ABBA knockoffs.  No, FALK wants to hurt you.  It wants to drag your soul to a dark place and kick it around a bit.  If a dominatrix could be personified as a music label, her name would be Mistress FALK.

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I’m not sure why this split cassette release by Auxpan and Oberdada von Brûtal just now made it into my hands, two years after its release.  But somehow it ended up in my bag when I came home from Airwaves, and since I’m feeling a bit disjointed tonight it seemed like the perfect thing to put into the old Denon tape deck.

The cassette consists of three live tracks, all recorded in 2008 and each over ten minutes in length.  Auxpan gives us nearly 20 minutes of pure noise, including a long segment that can be best described as static.  At other times I’m convinced my stereo is possessed by the spirt of a serial killer, or at the very least someone wearing a leather hood/mask thing with a zipper mouth (♥).  The set is broken down into distinct segments… but it would be a bit much to refer to them as songs.  To me they’re more like scenarios.  Disturbing scenarios, to be sure, but still.  Not the kind of thing to play when mom comes over for dinner, unless you want her to question all that money she spent sending you to private schools all those years.

As for Oberdada von Brûtal… just… wow.  The way the vocal sampling is done is a total trip, the two tracks overwhelmingly smothering in their pure intensity.  Like a nightmare you can’t wake up from.  Not one that is terrifying, but more one that is deeply unsettling in an existential way.  I’m sure words can be used to describe von Brûtal, but it feels like symbols could do so just as effectively, so:

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Once again, FALK delivered something interesting and challenging.  Both Auxpan and Oberdada von Brûtal give us challenging compositions, well outside the mainstream.  And I for one appreciate the impact these sonic designs, because they make me think about music differently, forcibly prying open the closed off parts of my brain and forcing them to engage with the sounds.

(♠)  FALK = Fuck Art Let’s Kill

(♥)  Perhaps “Machine” from the disturbing Nicholas Cage film 8mm.  Somehow “The Gimp” from Pulp Fiction didn’t seem as dangerous, probably because he was on a leash.