Genre: Noise / Electro-acoustic
01 Our Only Downfall, Pacifism
02 Our Only Hope, Contentment
Two tracks from the noise project of Peter J. Woods, who is also active as a playwright, performance artist and event coordinator based in the city of Milwaukee. He tells me that 'Diatribe' was realized using violin, bass, voice and broken electronics. I consciously discarded this information while listening and tried to remain objective. On a day when the air is thick with the haze and odor of nearby drought-induced wildfires this wasn't hard to do. In fact this little disc proved to be the perfect audio companion to the environment outside my window.
The first track kicks off with what sounds like an amplified rubber band vibrating intermittently
over the head of a cheap microphone. This accelerates into an orgy of loops and electronic growl.
As the noise grows, the loops keep things rhythmically interesting and never devolves into all-out aural hell, despite the machine gun-like interruptions. As the piece winds down, it concludes with some blown-speaker crackle that frankly could have gone on a bit longer for my tastes.
The second half of the disc seems to revolve around vocal processing that gets pretty damn creepy in the quieter moments and downright horrifying the louder ones. There's some pretty dramatic dynamic contrast in that the quiet sections actually hover around silence. This dichotomy
serves to be disturbing and works well, whether or not that's the artists intention. There's also some prepared string action thrown in that sounds like a cross between a banjo and a piano just before the piece erupts into full-on Armageddon and a disarmingly quiet resolve.
I really like the tension and release dynamic here that's missing from so much music of this ilk. Perhaps this is owed to Peter's background in the dramatic arts. Either way it's refreshing. As for the titles: whether or not they reflect a personal philosophy held by the artist is left to speculation. How pacifism can be viewed as a negative trait and contentment seen as a ray of light eludes me. In today's world of fear and paranoia I'm still reminded of Chris Cutler's maxim that 'contentment is hopeless, unrest is progress.' This music sounds more the result of unrest than contentment, or perhaps a happy medium. Looking forward to more.