For whatever reason (most likely the rather grumpy mood I've been in for the last two days), obnoxious and abrasive noise seemed quite an appealing topic for this week's list. So if blaring loud and aggressive music or even avant-garde gibberish to annoy those around you is your thing, by all means read on. As usual, please feel free to add any suggestions. Sunn O))) - Death Becomes You
Thirteen minutes of a sludge sounding riff, that's all this song is. And yet it sounds so huge, dark, and brooding... it's amazing that a few guitars can create this much fucking noise. Then there's the finishing two minutes, with that absurdly rumbling bass and the odd way the track seems to collapse into itself - odd because there wasn't really much going on to begin with, mainly. How this kind of music can actually sound good still baffles me.
Aphex Twin - Ventolin
Leave it to Richard D. James to take such deliberately ear piercing noises, throw them together, and make a followable melody out of them. Yeah, it sounds like taking repeated sonic blows to the ear drums until they draw blood, but it's strangely appealing; even stranger considering that the abrasiveness only gets worse as the track progresses...
Melt-Banana - Giggle on the Stretcher
Contemporaries like the Locust or Boredoms cover a lot of the same ground this Japanese noise rock group does, but there's a certain quirky personality to Melt-Banana, most of it courtesy of Yasuko Onuki's vocals... er, shouts, and guitarist Agata's wide array of effects pedals and tremendous creativity with the treatment of the sounds produced. Giggle is an early example of both at their finest.
Hour of Penance - Thousands of Christs
There are several death metal groups getting great acclaim this year; some understandable (Immolation) and some puzzling (Defeated Sanity), but Hour of Penance's latest easily blows the competition out of the water. Not only is this unrelentingly brutal (and LOUD), but the incredibly tight structure is evident right away, and it even has what is probably the best quality a death metal record could have - you can actually tell the difference between the songs!
Venetian Snares - One Eye
Chopped up snare and bass drums, mangled guitars, spliced vocal samples, and fuck knows what else propel this pounding cacophony through its four minute length. Not only is it unforgivingly ear scraping to begin with, but Aaron Funk teases with the slightest traces of a melody in spots, before piling on even more confrontational noise to mask them.
Sonic Youth - Pacific Coast Highway
Certainly no strangers to creating noisy (and at times in their earlier days, downright deranged) soundscapes, this cut off their 1987 album Sister shows everything that makes Sonic Youth so damn fun to listen to - that loud, creepy opening for instance, with Kim Gordon sounding as unsettling as ever, making lines like "Come on baby, just like that, you say," sound far more frightening than they should.
Pig Destroyer - Boy Constrictor
This track carries more unreasonable rage in its minute running time than most songs can accomplish in five. Random injections of groove, instruments pounding in conjunction, and of course J.R. Hayes' towering screams.. it's no surprise that this band is such a huge favorite in the grindcore scene right now.
John Zorn - Demon Sanctuary
However John Zorn got the idea to mix surf rock, grindcore, and jazz fusion is beyond me... but the the results are ingenious. The utterly insane gibberish being shouted over everything is the icing on the cake, and is pretty much guaranteed to get anybody in your vicinity to wonder just what the hell it is you're listening to.
Boom Bip & Dose One - Questions Over Coffee
DJ Bryan Hollon (also known for his part in the popular duo Neon Neon from a few years back) provides some seriously spacey, drugged out production to back up MC Adam Drucker's borderline pretentious ramblings that frankly seem to drift in and out of any sort of genuine sense, until the point where he bluntly admits that he's making it all up as he goes along. "And it feels goooood."
Ween - Mister Richard Smoker
No one has ever made such obnoxious music sound so appealing and... well, good. Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo Jr. have always been spectacular songwriters and musicians, and their country parody/tribute album, 12 Country Greats, was no exception. Some of the tracks feel like genuine (if a bit silly) takes on old country and western, but the songs like this feel as if they were made for the sole purpose of making people think "...what the fuck is this shit??"