What do you get when you put two modern noise masters together in the same tucked-away college town in Western NY for awhile? You get FORM HUNTER via Stefan Aune (BREAKING THE WILL, KJOSTAD, NEW FORCES) and Weston Czerkies (SUNKEN CHEEK, THIN VISION), and this duo has very quickly established themselves as part of the vanguard of the recent harsh noise resurgence. This tape was released on Weston's own PRIME RUIN label in April 2019.
Between 2012-2016, Kevin McEleny unleashed a barrage of releases as CONSTRAIN, employing a break-neck stop/go and cut-up style across a little over a dozen releases. I'm not sure what the circumstances are around his seeming dropping off, but for a time there between this project and his label HEAVY PSYCH there was a constant influx of incredible harsh noise. Not really captured here, but Kevin's visual art style is also among the best, and I highly suggest seeking out his zines like LIFE TRAP. I don't have too much background on this release, it appears to have been self-released for the PURE HARSH NOISE WORSHIP 2013 megashow that went down in Portland.
WORTH is another contemporary project that just consistently cranks out rippers. Will Van Gorder has been in the harsh noise game for quite some time, and Worth picks up where WEAK SISTERS left off. Much like the performances, the recordings always seem to be teetering on catastrophic collapse, surely due in part to the totally damaged gear style Will has, but he's a master and keeps things together and pushes them into sublime ascension. This release came out in 2018 on LEAD LOZENGES in an edition of 40.
No, I didn't post the same tape twice. Tyler and Seany just decided to continue the blood red themes of the previous split on another release because if the harsh noise ain't broke don't fucking fix it. Self-released earlier this year, edition unknown. I believe this came out shortly before the boys launched RECEIVING VAULT but that is the place to support their work now. Also, this tape has one of my all time favorite track titles:
If you were to ask 9 out of 10 harsh heads these days who the hottest new acts are, they will almost certainly say JACKSON-PRATT or BLIND DATE if not both. In the last few years they've burst onto the scene with amazing live performances and crushing recordings. This was a split released in 2019 on PSYCHIC LIBERATION in an edition of 50.
Full disclosure: the THOUSANDS OF DEAD GODS crew are my people. I have the label logo tattooed on my leg for a reason. Justin and Matt are two of my closest friends and most respected peers. Last year Justin (aka SHREDDED NERVE) burst out of his lab with a new project, LAPSE, and it is pure harsh noise worship at its finest. He put this 2xC8 release together for the first show, making 16 copies, which is fucking ridiculous because more people need to hear this. So without further adieu...
Closing out tonight's blast of BEING is For Evaluation, which was made for Luke's Spring 2017 Japan/Korea tour in an edition of 27 copies. I can't even remember how I ended up with one but it either involved harassing Luke or convincing Adam Jennings (WINTERS IN OSAKA), who lives in Japan, to grab one and mail it to me. I make no apologies for my obsessive collecting of Being material, and upon listening you'll see why...
The third and so far last installment in the Battery Cages series is great because its obvious in the recording that Luke is fully confident in his execution and "coming into his own" for a lack of a better phrase. This is by far the most dynamic of the three, but that dynamism sacrifices none of the viciousness and blunt force of the earlier recordings. Released in 2012 on Skeleton Dust, I'm not entirely sure what the quantity was, but its long gone.
I think Battery Cages II might have been the first Being tape I picked up directly from Luke, and I'm betting he wishes he'd never filled that fucking order because I have been punishing him ever since. But its hard not to, because Luke is a great dude, with a great label, a great store, and one of my favorite noise projects of all time. The second installment came in an edition of 50 on Skeleton Dust.
When I was first getting into harsh noise, I asked Wyatt Howland what I should check out, and he hit me with a list of essentials and a list of contemporary acts to check out. He put a major emphasis on BEING and in particular this tape, which he jammed for me as it took a couple years for me to track a copy down. He wasn't wrong, the whole Battery Cages series is crucial, and its cool to hear Luke's style evolve across each tape. This first in a series, this was released in 2006 in an edition of 15.
This tape was made available at the SEWER ELECTION show in NYC in March 2017, a show that also featured WHITE RHINO TAXIDERMY with some extra idiot. I remember that night that BEING had something going that just sounded like the earth's crust was being pulled up and ripped apart. This split between two diehards of the genre was self-released by them for that show in an edition of 100, yet it doesn't come up very often, which is good because it should be held onto and jammed loud.
TEN FUCKING YEARS LATER DUDE IS STILL RIPPING. Its awesome to have some of the generation before mine still dominating and showing us how to harsh properly on the noisy path. This C30 came out in and edition of 75 in 2017 on TEAM BORO TAPES, a Swedish label that seems to have only lasted for 2-3 years but in that time put out some serious heaters.
Another release from 2007, this originally saw a tape edition, but I came into possession of the CDr version put out by LIFE IS EASY. More of Nolan doing what he does best, crushing it in live settings across 3 tracks.
Nolan Throop has been pumping out crushing harsh noise as KAKERLAK for over 15 years, and I haven't heard a bad release yet. Catching live sets in 2017 and 2018 were true treats for someone who missed the mid/late-00s scene. I tracked down this 3" that came out in 2017 on PITCHPHASE. Have I mentioned that I fucking love 3" CDrs? I think its the perfect format for noise freaks because you have to really be dedicated to make sure you have a way to play this format in 2020...
The follow up to the Wells, Unwell is full of blown-out samples and incredible harsh textures. I love the ongoing theme of The Invisible Man, I watched that movie as a kid with my sci-fi loving Grandma, who also got me into Godzilla and monster trucks, so maybe I should be throwing props to her for exposing me to the delightful sounds of buildings crumbling, glass breaking, and metal mangling. I hope Mike follows up with more from this project as it is truly a standout treat! This tape is also available via Solar Temple, so get on that shit before I just buy all the copies and force them on people...
I want to spotlight some more contemporary harsh heads as well, and in terms of underrated and under the radar, few are as unappreciated as FRIGHTENED MOON. Mike has been around the Chicago noise scene forever and also performs as MAGIA NUDA and FUTURESLUM. With Frightened Moon we get some nasty analog destruction. While his 2017 collab with THE RITA that came with a pair of sunglasses is sold out from Fusty C*nt, this single-sided C20 tape is somehow still available through Mike's own SOLAR TEMPLE TAPES...
As of today Kay Lawrence has only produced the LP on Urashima and this cassette installment of thick harsh noise muck for the gillmen to rise from, released on PHAGE TAPES in an edition of 100.
Can you pick up on the fact that I am combing through my "Rita and Co" section of my collection? Here we have Sam teaming up with Cristiano of ALO GIRL and the label URASHIMA, on which this LP came out in an edition of 99 copies in 2011.
WALL RIDERS is an absurdly underrated project that involved contributors such as THE RITA, TASKMASTER, RICHARD RAMIREZ, and others - although the actual lineups for each recording are purposefully obscured as the goal of the project per Sam was "deconstructing the audio AND any idea of personality behind projects." Just total ripping harsh noise wall for 40 minutes. This CDr came out on Trauma Tone in 2008 and you can seriously get this on discogs for like $2, wtf?!
The last entry in the catalog of this mega-powers collaboration, the A-side feels very McKinlay-heavy with that signature wild texture of his. This cassette was released in 2009 by Nurse Etiquette.
Easily the most accessible of the Zenta Sustained released, as it was a CDr released in an edition of 100 copies on Life Is Easy in 2007. These inserts are a good reason to keep the adult content warning up on the blog.
I spent so long tracking this release down there's no way I'm not sharing with all the homies. Bloomer and McKinlay return with a 2xCS released in 2006 by Trauma Tone Recordings in a criminally low edition of 15 copies.
BLOOMER + THE RITA. Now that is a winning combination if ever there was one. This was the first release they did before changing their name to ZENTA SUSTAINED. Released on the god-tier TRAUMA TONE RECORDINGS in 2006.
Another excellent Bachir Gemayel release, and the last one we would see until 2017's "Walls Of War" on Housepig. This 2xCS release was meant to be played both individually and simultaneously, and you know your boy hooked you up with those AC/BD mixes for tracks. Released on Fusty C*nt in 2012 in an edition of 50.
Before he joined a TERROR CELL UNIT, and before KOUFAR was selling out releases in minutes, Mackenzie Chami was bringing the masses walls of war with BACHIR GEMAYEL. "Guardians of the Cedars" was the first release on his INSURGENT RECORDS in 2009 in a criminally limited edition of 25.
Speaking of Skeleton Dust and never having a bad release, Pat Yankee aka PARANOID TIME has never failed to unleash absolute harsh noise destruction upon us all. Live sets are completely unhinged and possibly the closest you can get to the energy of a Youth of Today show in harsh noise - stage dives, moshing, raised fists. "Pinched Sack" was released on Skeleton Dust in 2009.
There is no such thing as a bad release on SKELETON DUST RECORDINGS, and since 2012 the CONTEMPORARY HARSH NOISE series has given a spotlight to the best of the best in the scene today. Volume I features BEING, BREAKING THE WILL, SKIN GRAFT, and WEAK SISTERS -all names you'll be seeing often here, so get used to it.
It is only appropriate that the first post be dedicated to the most dedicated among us, THE RITA. Released on Self Abuse in 2006. Along with a t-shirt, stickers, and 2 comics, this seminal box set included a 7", a 3" bizcard style CDr, and a C8 cassette.
Funny story: I got the shirt off Aaron Dilloway maybe 5 years ago, and then last summer got the box set that the shirt belonged to from him!