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Speedranch and Jansky Noise - Migrate

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Artist: Speedranch and Jansky Noise

Album: Migrate

Label: Planet Mu

Review date: Aug. 12, 2003

Poised for Noise

Adorned with drawings of malevolent cartoon monsters and a shot of some toothless geezer sucking on a forty ounce (of Crazy Horse, no less), Speedranch and Jansky Noise’s Migrate record looks to have all the trappings of a wicked metal showdown (with the clever song titles to boot). But these two traffic strictly in the noise aesthetic; metal sonics that sound as if conjured from spinning Sabbath records backwards in the hope of finding messages from the Dark Lord. All the same, Migrate feels more like a punishing hardcore record than most electronic improv sessions tend to, trading off the hints and understatement for a generous helping of broken distortion and throbbing white noise, but with a sort of light, geeky humor immediately evident in the song titles: “Herve Villechaize had metamorphosing rhino balls” (which has a vintage Incredible Hulk sample to match).

So where exactly does that leave the music, you ask? The artists in question have a natural talent for improvised skronk, make no mistake. The refreshing thing here is that this is noise purely for the sake of noise, so much so that track separations here tend to feel almost like afterthoughts, as most of the proceedings segue effortlessly into the next batch of aggressive and tightly focused bleats without even flinching. “Stringfellow Hawke A56-7W (Classified)” whips along with waves of undulating feedback and some eerie background radio voices. “Every man is at least somewhat more complicated than he appears” brings to mind someone dragging a metal file slowly across a hard drive with sonar accompaniment. Track four (the title of which has at least six symbols that I can’t find the keystroke equivalent for) sounds like more “traditional” Planet Mu beats, only run through a malfunctioning Ultimate Chopper and then left out for too long. “Addicted to Violence since childhood” is a batch claustrophobic static with bits and pieces of disembodied voices and songs fighting for recognition.

Things switch up a bit with “There are questions we don’t even know to ask of yet”, a relative exercise in restraint. The feedback walls are still there, but they come in waves thus allowing for patches of ominous quiet to work as well. “Chomping on Dog Slaughter” fronts a piercing high-end drone with the pure white noise coming in like whirring blades. And if you squint your eyes and tilt your head, track thirteen (whose title is the entire theme song from The Love Boat, natch) sounds, well, absolutely nothing like the theme from the aforementioned staple of ’70s network promotional kitsch. Which is fine, I say, as I’d much rather hear the queasy digital abstractions in its place. “Amen! A neat, joint, anal phase” is about as close to melodic beauty as Jansky and Speedranch are likely to ever get, which works well with the digitally distorted drawn out strains that this track plumes magnificently. And fittingly, the whole record ends suddenly with a joke about aliens observing primitive human consumption habits, courtesy of mashed potatoes.

As with a lot of noise, little distinguishes each track from the next. A swath of feedback engulfs the speakers, giving way to hints of a destroyed breakbeat or a clever mutilated sample. But then again, that’s most likely the point. This is, after all, noise made purely for the fuck of it, losing any bullshit artistic pretense in favor of just punishing the hell out of your ears and/or stereo system. Anything that the tracks here lose in subtlety or diversity is gained tenfold in sheer sonic malevolence and an overarching sense of gleefulness. And that alone makes it worthy.

By Michael Crumsho

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