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K.K. Null - Ergosphere

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Artist: K.K. Null

Album: Ergosphere

Label: Blossoming Noise

Review date: Jan. 31, 2006

Ergosphere, KK.Null’s latest live album, is horrendous background music for cooking dinner. It might cause one to spill tomato puree all over one’s pants and drop cookware on the ground, all while failing to realize that half the noodles in the pot are capellini, the other half tagliatelli. However, it is excellent accompaniment for working inside a Biological Safety Cabinet, a breathing metal behemoth that keeps tissue samples sterile during science experiments. For those who don’t spend several hours a day with their hands inside such equipment, it likely makes a great soundtrack for doing data entry, assembling silk flowers in a garment factory, rolling up an entire pack of cigarettes, or making obsessive folk art.

Because KK.Null makes loud and raucous sound mishmashes and records stoner metal with Zeni Geva, these might seem like unusual listening contexts for Ergosphere. But crushing sound is most necessary in situations where drugs and headbanging aren’t allowed. About to tear your co-worker’s head off? Turn up the volume and breathe deeply.

Kazuyuki Kishino (KK.Null’s earth name) recorded the two long pieces on Ergosphere on tour in 2005, in Moscow and Estonia. Kishino’s first release in ’06 and latest installment in a lifetime catalog of “over 100” recordings, the disc manages to feel vital rather than excessive. It evokes a certain desperation: that if one weren’t listening to it at this particular moment, one might die.

We seem to get dropped into Kishino’s Moscow set in media res; there is no buildup, everything is already happening at once. Modem dialing noises pollute the calming beat of an amplified 60-cycle hum. These pour into a gloomy melody, video game time-running-out music and gorgeous static bubbles, always with a beastly bass grumble underneath. There are slices of joy, sudden SK-1 tones and major-key glitch, but they disappear in an instant, sucked back into the whorl of heaviness below. Sometimes a faux woman shrieks in the background.

The Estonian recording, or “Ergosphere part 2,” begins with quiet, fairy tones and a dusting of Tinkerbelle static. The static endures as the tones are twisted into the sound of jet engines beginning to spin and howl. Suddenly everything is chainsaws and demented metal-shop welding. Prison doors clank in a steady, jerry-rigged beat. It thunders like a freight train toward a chaotic conclusion and leaves behind a sense of enviable calm.

Maybe the loss of the tomato-stained pants and the half-mushy, half-crunchy noodles will be bearable after all.

By Josie Clowney

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