Saturday, January 04, 2014

Sickness - A History of Silence/Purgatory.

Sickness - Purgatory
Ninth Circle Music. Cassette.
25 copies.

Sickness - A History of Silence
Ninth Circle Music. 6” Lathe
25 copies.

The first time I saw Sickness play was upstairs at the Fenton about ten years ago. Chris Goudreau was touring Sickness with Slogun and a several other nefarious noise merchants all with names like Skidmark Shoveller or Rapist or I’ll Kill Your Mum the latter of whom are all now probably dental floss salesmen, investment bankers or dead. In 2007 I saw Sickness play the No Fun Fest in New York only for equipment failure to ruin not only Goudreau’s evening but everybody elses as well.  When he returned the year after to fulfill his destiny it was like everyone in the room was urging him on and that they did. And then last November in Birmingham in a pub beer garden at one in the morning to a dwindling audience the majority of whom were drunk beyond measure and would have applauded me playing the bongos, he played a ten minute set that was just about as perfect a noise set as you could ever wish to hear.

Goudreau has been making noises under the Sickness moniker for 25 years and he’s releasing a series of super limited artifacts to celebrate the fact. I’ve not heard his earliest recordings but I’m willing to bet they sound nothing like what we have here. After 25 years Goudreau has honed his art to perfection. He is a perfectionist. His back catalogue is modest, laying bare not only his perfectionism but his slow work rate and a desire to get it right. He’s also one of the deepest thinkers I’ve ever encountered in the noise ‘scene’. Calling your label ‘Ninth Circle Music’, name checking Dante, using Gustave Dore’s etchings as cover art and wrapping the whole ethos in a blanket of ‘sickness’ not just of body but of mind is a far cry from the here today gone tomorrow never to be heard of again noiseniks that dabble to deceive leaving in their trail dubious work the likes of which deserves to be buried for ever.

His work with Sickness has matured through rough industrial loops to what we have now, a purer noise artist balancing harsh with quiet, loud with soft, using silence as much as noise to make his mark whilst creating a sound that he can call his own. As the extensive tract on A History Of Silence reveals ‘This makes it hard for loud to ever be loud enough. It’s never what’s said out loud that truly matters. It’s the silence; what’s hidden’.  Goudreau’s obsession with Dante’s Divine Comedy reveals itself in the labels moniker and the title Purgatory where ‘The pain means nothing … Your effort wasted’. The track listing on Purgatory runs; ‘An Unmagnificent Life’, ‘Not Much Now’, ‘Not Worthy of Heaven’, ‘And I Wait’. Silence, Purgatory, Dante and existentialist angst all in a lifetimes work and encapsulated in two tiny releases.

Listening back to the 2004 RRR release ‘Fuck Your Punk Rock’ you can see just how far Sickness has come in ten years. From those cathartic blasts and its swipe at the ‘golden calves and half assed trends’ to the grinding roar of Freak Animals 2009 'Ruiner' to what we have now; carefully crafted, well thought out, perfectly timed noise works of great magnitude with a depth that few others working in the same area can lay claim to. Its what lies at the core of the hand cut grooves on History and the ferric granules of Purgatory. Not much more than about 15 minutes worth of noise all told and only 50 copies to be had. Their mere existence and what they convey is the important thing.

After 25 years I wonder if these releases mark the end of one era and the beginning of another? Whatever lies ahead it'll be worth waiting for. Even the next gig at the Fenton.


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1 comment:

Steve said...

I saw Sickness with Slogun at The Fenton too. I thought Cloama & Grunt kind of wiped the floor that night…anyway, the new recordings sound interesting so I checked out the website. It hasn't been updated since summer 2011 - Do you know who is distributing this stuff in the UK?