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John Wiese - Circle Snare

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Artist: John Wiese

Album: Circle Snare

Label: No Fun

Review date: Jul. 28, 2009

In all of contemporary “noise,” John Wiese is one of the more curious figures. At work in some capacity for nigh on two decades now, his name and work are probably best known as they relate to other artists. He’s held lengthy collaborative sessions with the likes of Wolf Eyes, Merzbow, and (most recently) Burning Star Core’s C. Spencer Yeh (to name but three), helmed LHD and Sissy Spacek across dozens of releases, done some time in Bastard Noise, and toured abroad with Sunn 0))) in their most blackened metal phase. Solo, however, he’s a different beast entirely, issuing recordings that prove his work is more dexterous composition than anything else, his tracks plotted and thought out in a way few of his peers can match.

Circle Snare, Wiese’s latest solo effort for the No Fun label, captures him at what must be a rarified peak. Recorded over the course of a European tour, the disc’s four tracks balance out the extremities of full-scale sonic assault with a watchmaker’s attention to craft, bounding back and forth between tiny snatches of gristle and feedback and more straight ahead throbs and thrums. His pieces are nothing if not meticulous – organized and arranged on an exceedingly microscopic scale that manages to convey the reckless energy of the most heinously spewed power electronics while presenting a series of brief, harsh juxtapositions that beg further and repeated listenings.

Although somewhat known for aural punishment, Wiese defers that fury throughout Circle Snare‘s opening triptych. These parts build on queasy drones, harshly edited and chopped, that jab into static and faint percussive snatches at odd angles. More than anything, he showcases his keen ability to build tension, pulling back the explosiveness of “Circle Square (Second)” enough so that by the time “Circle Square (Third)” opens up its grey clouds with momentous thunderclaps, it feels the humidity is pulling back on a disgusting August day.

And while it may seem slightly unnecessary given the album’s preceding workout, the live blast of “Mystical Finland” serves as a today coda to Circle Snare, its thumps and screeches summarizing the extremes of Wiese’s latest solo effort with a distinctly visceral thrust. It’s as if to suggest that not only can he compose, but he can just as capably turn it out in front of a live audience, too.

By Michael Crumsho

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