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Reviews
Lasse Marhaug - The Great Silence
Sunday, July 15 2007 @ 02:00 AM PDT
Contributed by: empty j

The Great Silence

Artist: Lasse Marhaug Norway

Title: The Great Silence

Label: Troniks & Pacrec United States

Genre: Noise / Experimental

01 Back To Nature
02 The New Sound
03 The Great Silence

To refer to Lasse Marhaug as a prolific musician would be an understatement. Although he became active in music around 1990 and has contributed to over two hundred releases, he has really come in to his own over the last ten years. Perhaps best known for his work with Jazzkammer, Lasse has also been active as a solo performing and recording artist as well as collaborating with a veritable 'who's who' of underground music. He has worked with the extraordinary vocalist/composer Maja Ratkje, renaissance man Otomo Yoshihide, extreme electronicist Francisco Lopez, and free jazz behemoth Ken Vandermark. And that only scratches the surface. Perhaps such a busy schedule explains why these recordings from 2003 only saw the light of day this year thanks to those tireless noise fanatics in California behind the Pacrec label.

CAVEAT : If you have a disdain for unrelenting extreme music then you can stop here. On the other hand, if you think that you have heard the best noise records of all time and feel smug with your Whitehouse and Merzbow collections then you need to get off of your complacent ass. If you have no idea what I'm talking about then this just may be your ticket in to a brave new world of sound.

Noise has become a term of convenience for me and not necessarily an aesthetic conceit. Back in the late 1980s I read an interview with Steven Stapleton in which he defined noise as 'unwanted sound.' I had no problem with this sentiment then and perhaps even moreso now, otherwise I wouldn't have blared 'Drowning In A Sea Of Bliss' last night. I do, however, live behind a fire house that seems to get at least a dozen calls per day, and although frequency modulation has a special place in my heart, that siren is what I consider 'unwanted sound.' I prefer music, thank you very much.

'The Great Silence' is music. Primitive ? Yes. Crude ? Perhaps. Will it pummel your brain and body tissue into an unidentifiable pulp ? Only if you want it to ! These three tracks are so well recorded and mastered that they are sufficiently listenable at any volume with or without headphones. I personally listened to it at three different dynamic settings and can't say that I have a preference. To do the disc justice, however, I recommend listening to it straight through with no interruptions, so empty your bladder now lest you piss yourself silly during the ensuing fifty-two minutes. Production credits are attributed to The Golden Serenades who deserve kudos, whoever 'they' are because the full frequency range gets a fair shot here (although I could have stood for a touch more bass) despite the abrasive nature of the recordings. The high frequencies soar and chase off the birds, tooth fillings become dislodged, windows rattle, floor- boards unhinge and the neighbors are too scared to ask me for a cup of sugar. I'm reminded of the first time G.X. Jupitter-Larsen sent me a Haters cassette to release back in the 80s, when I was convinced that little imps were actually inside my speaker cones with amplified scalpel blades (or was it shards of broken glass?). The distortion factor is ubiquitous, but never rules the proceedings. Aerosol cans of noise fill the air like sirens over Basra, not to incite but rather to entice enemies into friendly banter. Bits of radio transmissions filter in like amicable reminders of the fact that you are indeed still on Earth and then get usurped by the forces that remind you that you don't really want to be on this rock after all. It's easy to get caught up in the minutiae of the activity here, but just as rewarding to let it all just wash over you like holy water distributed from some high priestess of seared circuitry. Despite your philosophy, theosophy or lack thereof, who reading this hasn't wished for some form of liberation from our terrestrial state of existence? Sometimes the best medicine is homeopathic in which 'like cures like.' Lasse Marhaug is in control and his music seems firmly rooted in 'terra firma,' however rocky the terrain may be.

Marhaug credits himself with using guitar, amps, pedals, microphones and 'noise electronix, etc.' Ultimately, who really cares? If this is 'noise,' well...then call it something else ! This is powerful music with attention to detail, that stands apart from the glut of 'power electronics' records that seem more intent on some nihilistic precept rather than actual sound. I do seem to detect a Neitzcheian (sp?) aesthetic in the titles though. Forgive me if I'm wrong Lasse, but you seem like a pretty decent bloke. Would you like to play sometime ? I'm in the book.

     


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