Like most people with ears, I’ve long been an admirer of the Editions Mego label and it’s Editions-less predecessor. Starting in the mid-1990s with techno-adjacent dance music, Mego quickly shifted sideways to abstract sound art, experimental pop and all sorts of radical and forward-thinking digital (and otherwise) music/noise. I try to listen to whatever they publish, and tend to enjoy a lot of it… but this single is especially exciting. I hadn’t heard of Finlay Shakespeare before checking out his “Routine” single, but I’ve since discovered his own Bandcamp page and listened to some earlier albums. They’re all worth hearing. “Routine”, though, has become one of the most-played tunes around my home. It’s driving and catchy and intense and a lot of fun.
Here is one very appropriate and appreciated use for Bandcamp! As long-time noise collectors know, old CDRs tend to develop awful artifacts when they’ve sat around awhile. Many of those limited-edition gold discs you paid $10+ for at the No Fun Fest merch table are probably a decaying mess of flaking plastic with sections of the disc you can see right through. To the rescue comes noise artist Marc Benner (aka Dead Shall Not Have Died In Vain) with the perfectly-named Bandcamp-only label Oxidation. The label’s mission statement is to resurrect decaying old noise CDRs and make them available again as free (yep, free!) downloads.
So far, Benner has dusted off early titles by Luasa Raelon, Stefan Widmann (as both Leere and Azoikum), R4, Maim, Oscillating Innards and more. Whether your own discs have succumbed to disc rot or you’re new to underground noise of the 00’s, everything here is worth checking out. As a bonus, your download won’t smell like spray paint.
Here are a few selections to get you started:
Kinda figures that some noise nerds would create a track like this in honor of Pi Day… which is, of course, March 14th… because Pi is the irrational number that begins 3.14 and then goes on forever without (as far as anyone has been able to discover) repeating or developing into a pattern. It’s the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. But you knew that. This track consists of (in their words) “dueling non-linear pattern generators filtered thru five EHX Big Muffs & one torn Leslie speaker” by the four members of Bremerton, WA, band White Fluff. Naturally, it sells for $3.14… but it lasts for 25 minutes! What, not 3 minutes and 14 seconds? Just fell in love with your own static and threw conceptual rigor our the window… isn’t that right, math geeks? Ah, but it sounds like static and is probably worth a few bucks and change.
Nothing else sounds like Relay For Death‘s “Natural Incapacity”. I know, I know… hyperbolic nonsense, right? And yet, this double-CD has the same capacity to astonish with it’s out-of-nowhere incomprehensible originality as towering giants like Nerve Net Noise, Sukora, Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock or Darksmith. I don’t really know how sisters Rachal & Roxann Spikula made this music or what their intent was, and I don’t want to know. Maybe there’s some overarching concept. I enjoy not knowing. Suffice it to say that “Natural Incapacity” floored me when I first heard it, continues to floor me whenever I have the guts to submit to it again, and multiple deep listens have not yielded any of its mysteries. Note that I haven’t mentioned what it sounds like… I wouldn’t dare attempt to. Just accept my full-throated recommendation.
Say, I’ll betcha didn’t know that a Swiss label with the self-evident and unnecessarily defensive name of We Release Whatever the Fuck We Want was about to reissue “Lady Maid”, the classic 1981 Vanity Records synth oddity by Yukio Fujimoto/Normal Brain. Maybe you already knew about that. But if you didn’t, well… now y’do.
Vanity Records was a short-lived label run by the late Yuzuru Agi, who was the editor of Rock Magazine. You can read about this guy’s place in Japanese music history in David Hopkins’ Dokkiri! Japanese Indies Music 1976-1989 A History and Guide. During its brief run from 1978 to 1981, Vanity produced some truly unclassifiable records and tapes of bedroom bloop by Tolerance, RNA Organism, Kiilo Radical, Mad Tea Party, Dada, Salaried Man Club, Perfect Mother… and other artists that (with the exception of Aunt Sally/Phew, Sympathy Nervous and out-of-place folkie Morio Agata) left behind only their Vanity album as evidence that they ever existed. Kinda shocked that it’s taken this long for someone to reissue this stuff (though there was a gray-area Tolerance LP some years ago).