Circuit Wound – Fight Or Flight CDr

27 October 2012 rainbowbridge No Comment

Circuit Wound – Fight Or Flight CDr

Nefarious Activities

Circuit Wound is a Simi Valley, CA resident making rusty, dirty drone/noise. With releases all over the board (Troniks, the legendary Harshnoise, Monorail, Hospital, Rainbow Bridge, Trash Ritual, 905), you could say Circuit Wound is a prolific noise experiment with heavy quality control. It is more than obvious from this release alone that Howard does not just press record.

Starting off with a metallic and mildly distorted organ(?) drone, the nastiness builds until my temples feel like they are in a vice. And don’t fret, this is a good thing! After a few minutes, some new waves and crashes seep which set this apart from so many walls of harsh noise that have been produced. Jay seems to be playing with and controlling feedback and industrial clanging tastefully and with a rehearsed mindset. The piece starts to get into dark and creepy territory before too long, as the drones end up forming a dissonant minor chord.

After around ten minutes of this dense, harsh drone building, it begins to crumble and make way for a swarm of harsh static, feedback and oscillations in higher frequency territory.

Before too long, you’re listening to what it sounds like several cut-up harsh noise tracks layered on top of each other. I have to hand it to Howard for a beautiful transition from something so patient to something to chaotic covering much sonic territory. Space is utilized intently and with good judgment here and there, which gives the listener the opportunity to finally notice that Howard has mixed together junk metal abuse, distorted guitar assaults complete with bouts of feedback, along with (maybe) other methods.

Now, it is hard to describe the rest of this 40 minute-long track in precise detail because it stays harsh and chaotic through the end. I can honestly say that it doesn’t get boring, and that it ends really no later than it needs to. If this were a full CDr, I may have to take back that last statement. But 40 minutes on a single release is a nice, good piece to digest.

It’s hard to tell, but the instrumentation seems vast in the second and last movement. He either makes use of his gear to its fullest extent here, or he is not attempting minimalism in gear at all. It could be synths galore, or just his modulation pedals heavily processing feedback. Through the chaos and the tantrum-like guitar and metal abuse, there are dynamics in certain layers that level down for periods, and then come back up with either new sounds or a heightened intensity. I believe this could be the rewarding result of the sound-collage method. But who knows… maybe Howard is an octopus of a composer and did this all in one take with a big mixer. Either way, it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter, because it’s all-in-all good, intense, moving and interesting. It’s effective in portraying an aggressive and negative vibe.

Let’s be fair… I do have several complaints. They don’t make or break the release, but they do point out distaste that doesn’t seem to effect an enormous amount of others in the general noise community. What was obvious from the start was either the mastering/EQ-ing on the recording or the heavy use of some particular gear that I’m not a fan of sonically. There are some frequencies in the high-mid range that tend to irritate me because they sound very tinny. I can listen to the high-pitched distorted microphone squealing of Prurient’s “Black Vase” LP all day long, or any of Chefkirk’s no-input work as well. My problem is in a range lower than all that stuff. What I hear is often a result of metallic-sounding, high gain distortion pedals like the Death Metal and such. They have a particular irritating frequency range to me. Or, this whole issue could just be the mastering or recording. I don’t doubt that Howard was intentional with his sounds, but that characteristic of certain recordings has been a bother to me since first playing with sources through pedals. (This was actually my exact complaint with Goat’s “Holy Mountain” CD on Harshnoise.)

Secondly, the art and layout is sub-par. But as I said above, this doesn’t seem to bother other people. Also, many say that this is just part of what harsh noise is… trashy, thrown together, fuck you, etc. Regardless of all that, it doesn’t look trashy per se. There was obvious effort made here. Someone sat down with materials and assembled these things. I just don’t like the IMPACT font (but I’m a typeface nerd!), nor do I think that a cut manilla envelope with the artwork pasted on looks nice or will hold up. It’s not a deal breaker, but I feel like the sounds deserve something a little more on the outside. Thankfully there is no Sharpie anywhere on this thing. The CDr is hand-stamped, which is cool. It’s also spray-painted with red and silver paint. This is a method I never have had a problem with. I tend to like it visually. It adds a human touch that doesn’t look awful, like, let’s say, Sharpie scribbling, and proper use can create cool textures. As long the spray painting is done well, I’m happy. Meaning: as long as the paint doesn’t effect the data on the other side of the surface by being caked on too heavy, and as long as it doesn’t drip around to the bottom of the CDr, we’re in good shape. Nefarious obviously knows what’s up with that. In fact, I need some tips…

Composition: ★★★★½
Sounds: ★★★★☆
Production Quality: ★★★½☆
Concept: ★★★½☆
Packaging: ★★☆☆☆
Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

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