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Ground Zero


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Mellotron Storm
3 stars My interest in checking out this band came from Mitsuru Nasuno's involvement. He also plays bass for KOREKYOJIN a band I like a lot. I didn't realise though that GROUND ZERO are a band that create soundscpaes through samples, experimental sounds, turntables and the traditional bass, drums,sax and guitars.To say this was different is a big understatement. There are those who feel this is a masterpiece, and who am I to argue not knowing this kind of music very well at all. To be clear to everyone, this isn't about melody but about soundscapes. I knew something was up when for 25 minutes all I heard was what sounded like dual sax blasts that were off set slightly, and after those two blasts would be some experimental noises each time. For 25 minutes ! Yes I thought of Finnforest but decided not to fire the cd out the window. After 25 minutes the sound inbetween became constant, with the sax blasts still coming and going the same way.

My favourite section came when the drums arrived heavily 30 minutes in and continued for 14 minutes. I like that part a lot. When the drums stopped a wall of sound came in with the sax blasts still coming but relegated to the background thankfully. At this point I quit clenching my teeth and squinting my eyes. The sax finally stops 53 minutes in with only 4 minutes left in the song. The last 4 minutes is made up of electronic noise and dissonance. At this point i'm asking "Where did the sax go ?"

Ok it wasn't as bad as I make out, in fact it was quite good. Not my cup of java though.

Report this review (#168758)
Posted Saturday, April 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Consume Red is without a doubt one of the most rewarding experiences I have encountered. It may also be one of the most polarizing albums around, given the fact that people who like this, consider it a work of genius, and people who dislike it hate it passionately. As this review will show, I have become part of the first bunch, as this album grew on me like few have before it.

This is one of those one-track albums, and you might be tempted to believe it's a sprawling epic. Only it's not. It's pretty hard to explain what it actually is. According to some, unbearable noise. According to myself, an exercise in the exploration of sonic boundaries (although the two are not really self-exclusive, some may note). To put it in a descriptive manner, this track consists basically of a sample of an instrument called hojok from a traditional Korean opera (a very distinctive sound that you may grow to love) that is played over and over again, serving as a basis for building of the music. As the song progresses, scratches, percussion, guitars are slowly added in a seemingly erratic manner, until the whole thing finally explodes. The best thing is - it keeps on exploding for about twenty minutes afterwords. Saxophone, guitars, bass, and drums all tumbling in a menacing swirl until it finally crashes. For about ten minutes or so.

Breaking it down, it doesn't really give you the full picture of what it sounds like. You'd have to (try to) listen it yourselves. But I would say it is culturally significant for a number of reasons, ranging from its particular and extensive use of a sample (and the interesting scandal that followed, leading to a free culture debate) to the construction/deconstruction exercise of a musical piece while also encompassing the amazing use of soundscapes and textures. I find that this album cannot simply be anything else but a masterpiece of progressive music, where that is understood as music that is meant to take a step forward and challenge you, intellectually and emotionally. And while I am sure Consume Red may not appeal to those of you who are looking foremost for melody and harmony in music, it is without a doubt the one example you should have in your collection of music that challenges you constantly and of which you will never get bored very soon.

Report this review (#197763)
Posted Thursday, January 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Having trawled this site for a few years now, I can safely say that I believe that prog has well and truly shown the ability to argument itself with just about any genre, style and concept piece. Ground Zero's Consume Red illustrates one such extreme of genre mixing, being avant prog with noise music. Ultimately, what makes this piece so seminal to noise affectionados, I can only assume, is the consistent building soundscape and atomsphere, driven on by a continuous Korean hojok, which ultimately never changes throughout the epic, 57 minute piece, more develops as the sounds around it take hold, until the ultimate result is that the hojok becomes indistingushable amidst the onslaught of saxophone, guitars, feedback and drums. I will admit, I am not yet a noise fan, but this album has grown on me in ways I hadn't expected. I mean, it's been a good year and a half since I discovered this - and I outright despised it, couldn't get past the length, repetitions of the hojok, and feedback elements.

Now, my opinion couldn't have changed more. I think prog music has opened the door to new and more complex/challenging musical experiences. And Consume Red most definitely fits the bill in both respects. Recommended for fans of noise and all adventurous participants in prog music. Quite possibly not the easiest album to listen to, or the best introduction to the genre, but it has made a deep impression on me, and inspires me to look further into an often ignored, but legitimate genre of music.

For now, it's a four star effort. May rise or fall, but most likely the former, seeing as it's a grower.

Report this review (#603992)
Posted Friday, January 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#606552)
Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars We start with a few saxes plaintively crying. It sounds somewhat exotic. Spanish? Arab? This goes on and on, like it is for a dark ritual, or as if we are at the vigil for hundreds of dead. Eventually, noise bursts in. This continues on and off, as the saxes show no sign of abating, only pushing ever onward, with a few different tones and notes here and there. Ever longer later, as the noises continue to scream for longer duration, a traditional Japanese instrument starts to twang. Eventually, drums join, and then soon guitar. It still seems like we are buildings towards something else, but by the hour mark this madness ends. That, everyone, is "Consume Red", a very, VERY strange masterpiece, odd in so many different ways. For one, this sits at the apex of world, avant prog, specifically of a rock persuasion, and noise. A strange combination. And, again, this just builds towards nothing. I hope the band doesn't mean to compare this crazed work to life itself. Also strange, it just works. The saxes are repetitive beyond Kraftwerk's wildest dreams, but it all sounds great, at least if you can tolerate noise. Everyone plays their part perfectly and to the fullest. The noise itself is well used, and well done. Plus there is use of dial tones a whole decade before brostep made the idea seem worthless, but here it proves worthwhile. If you are looking for a great challenge, a masterful work of noise and avant prog, or just one of the strangest albums on these archives, this is it.
Report this review (#1318460)
Posted Monday, December 1, 2014 | Review Permalink

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