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Ground Zero - Consume Red CD (album) cover

CONSUME RED

Ground Zero

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.28 | 16 ratings

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Smegcake!
5 stars Well, I don't personally know what I think about this. It's progressive music on brave, uncharted ground (at least, it was uncharted in the 1990s comparatively). Noise, perhaps the most vilified of genres in music, still holds some level of respectability in the development of music in the post-modernist age. If we didn't have Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, we wouldn't have the noise genre, at least not to the truly huge extent we do now. Say what you will about its artistic credability - that it inspired nearly an entire genre through its dissonant guitar feedback riddled 64 minute double vinyl (packaged as a live album which was expensive at the time, heh), speaks for itself. If Metal Machine Music was the inspiration, then Consume Red is noise taken to its logical extreme. It is another single song album, like MMM, except rather then seemingly 'random' chunks of feedback riddling its length, instead we have a single, piercing sample, looped over and over for the length of the piece. Now, if I said that this single sample barely changed over the course of the albums length, that would, for a large majority of you - signal that this is probably not going to be your cup of tea. True, noise music contains some of the most abrasive sound one could expect, just wade through Merzbow's discography and take a pick. But what makes Consume Red such an experience, despite its daunting length, inability to simply skip through the parts - is that it represents a slow, ever so slow build upon this almost unchanging sample - there are subtle manipulations to begin with. In the first five minutes we begin to get feedback, some squeals and groans against the still pure and almost hypnotising sample of a sacred Korean instrument known as a hojok. They copped some controversy for the blatant sampling, but it has since passed. Moving forward, the first 15 minutes appear uneventful. The feedback, despite being abrupt and sudden, is still consciously building up. There is motion and with it, a forceful burst of life. Drums begin to emerge. Saxophone, and various other instruments begin to peak from among the sample. They merge and interweave, break away and disappear, then reappear completely different. Just to be aware - this is not the impression you will likely get on first listen. Suddenly, the building noise reaches a climax at the twenty fifth minute, where the true 'noise' aspect of the piece finally shows up. The drums burst erratically, the saxophone churns out an almost indiscernable tune, the bass noodles beneath and rises with the drum beats - there is a lot going on. And still, underneath this now imposing wall of sound, the sample plays on. There feels like there is no limit to the places that you can seek out in this world of noise. At times I felt like there were even voices and nature sounds spread amongst this piece. The drum beat settles from the thirty minute mark to a far more polished and almost top tappy segment for the next fifteen minutes, where the sample, drums, bass, guitar and all the other instruments however slight they contribute - push forward the piece to its final ten minutes. Here, the piece finally starts to wear down, the noise cascades and crumbles in the same breath, the hojok sample plays on, but grows at times indiscernable behind the cacophony. Suddenly, with four minutes left, everything seems to stop, except the feedback, which rises and falls, as if the hojok still accompanies it, then fades to silence.

This probably doesn't do justice to the piece. But as is expected, it's either a love it or hate it work. If the description above puts you off, I say, give it a listen regardless. It is an experience. And even if it is not one that you enjoy, I believe that music should exercise all the emotional responses you have - and throughout this singular, evolving and involving work, you can expect it to exercise a lot of them.

Smegcake! | 5/5 |

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