Monday, September 24, 2012
Normal Man - That Joyless Vibe
Horrible Injury Records. STAB001
Cassette. 200 copies
Brown - Ride the Lightning
Horrible Injury Records. STAB008
CDR. 40 Copies.
Legion Of Swine/Brown - Split
Horrible Injury/OJUD STAB009.5/OJUD001
Cassette. C30. 50 Copies
You’ll Learn - Live At Test Space
Horrible Injury Records. STAB003
CDR. 25 Copies
Noah Brown is the person whose name links all these titles. He’s the person who shoved the tatty carrier bag containing all this plus his comics in to my drunken arms as I slid down my chair at a recent Wharf Chambers gig. There was a lot to take in [the comics can be seen here] and I’ve taken my time which I’m glad for because what we have here is some marvelous solo experimentation, some super sloppy thrashgrungewailgunk courtesy of Normal Man offset with some rather duff improv.
Seeing as how the review pile was teetering out of control and I had a ten day trip coming up I decided to download and rip what I could of the above and use it as aural defence/stimulation when traveling on trains in bits of foreign lands where normal chatter is proved meaningless by it being spoken in languages I did not understand. It worked a treat.
Like the bearded wonder over at RFM, I have trouble finding bands with which to compare Normal Man to. All my references are years out of date, twenty years out of date at least so with my totally out of touch reviewers hat on here's what I heard; the guitarist plays heavy riffs that sound like Tony Iommi’s [especially on opener 'The Barrel' and 'Fucked With a Bone'], the bass player sounds like the bass player in Primus, the singer sounds like Iggy Pop [I imagine him strutting and posturing to the audience] and Brown drums like er ... I dunno but its good drumming. Stand out track ‘The Black Hitler’ sounds like The Strangulated Beatoffs, some tracks sound like The Happy Flowers and while I haven’t listened to anything remotely like Normal Man for donkeys years I find myself enjoying it immensely whilst digging out records by the aforementioned to relive those days when I nodded my head to something that wasn’t Astral Social Club. I look forward to the day I can see them play live and become the oldest person in the audience.
Browns experimentations under his own name [and you have to admit that using a surname as ubiquitous as Brown for your work is something of a masterstroke] are the real delight here. Ride The Lightning as a title didn’t fill me with anticipation but the hours worth of delightful sonic experimentation did. Brown uses his own voice and those of sampled others and mixes them with various electronic treatments to create atmospheres that sound like soundtracks to mentally disturbed patients getting electroconvulsive therapy treatment. Indeed ‘Grease Slit’ sounds like the mumbled incoherent double tracked vocals as heard coming from the mouths of those weird sisters who seemed to speak in a language that only they understand, this after a gruff Yorkshire voice can just about be heard saying ‘av smacked meslef int cunt’ a voice that carries on its looped verbiage through various bits of the tracks length. There’s audio verite of a street culled nature, some of which are used as background to a series of cut and pasted vocal tics and half sentences that come around like looped tourettes utterances. ‘Snake Guns’ makes use of Brown’s drumming ability in which he monotonously hits a solitary snare drum to the accompaniment of a typewriter bell and various electronic squiggles. The standout track here is the last and longest, ‘Doctor Office Featuring Mouse Mouth’ drifts serenely on a bed of synth wave beginning with a metronymic Geiger counter blip and a voice slowed down to such a degree that it sounds like a pig hunting for truffles, or maybe it is a pig hunting for truffles? What irks me most is that Brown has chosen a blurred image of a suburban back garden for sleeve art and a naff title. Having seen and admired his handiwork with a drawing pen its hard to understand why on both accounts. This is a work that would interest labels as diverse as Mego and Gruenrekroder and here it sits the last of 40 copies that will probably slide in to anonymity. Lets hope not.
After such highs, Brown’s solo work on the Legion Of Swine spilt comes as a bit of a disappointment. Six short tracks of dumber than dumb noise that I suppose acted as some kind of catharsis for Brown. At least it matched the 12 minutes worth of spastic information loss noise found on the flip.
Which leaves You’ll Learn, a three piece improv outfit for which Brown also drums. Along with two electric guitars and mic feedback they manage to build up various heads of steam that blow and calm down along its thirty minute route but with seemingly little in the way of interaction there's little to please either.
Still, lets not get too upset. Mr. Brown has lots of fingers in lots of pies and I’m sure one of them will become the dominant force eventually.
Contact: Horrible Injury