Album: | □ □ | (GATE) – No Exit (Fluttery 004 2009)

Noise as a genre is something I confess to having limited knowledge about. The only regular exposure to it I have is at the annual Instal shindig in Glasgow. In my experience, done badly it just becomes a cacophonous, shapeless and pointless din. Done well, though, it sucks you into an alien environment where rhythms and melodies exist, but only become apparent through careful listening. Sometimes they may not exist at all, but the brain creates them as it tries to make sense of the hostile aural environment.

| □ □ | (pronounced Gate) is the project of Japanese artist Lajos Ishibashi-Brons, based in Tokyo. He uses his own home built instruments including a sousen, an electric four string instrument used to create drones, and an electric morin khuur, an adaptation of a Mongolian stringed instrument played with a bow, as well as guitar, radio distortion and bass.

Some of the music is fairly abstract and (gasp!) quiet, such as “38 ss.mk” (all titles list the instruments used). Most is intense, with pulsing drones overlaid with sheets of noise. What surprised me is just how melodically rich a lot of the music is, even if the melodies are often buried deep. The rhythms, too, are hypnotic if relentless. Even at its most full on, where intense screes of noise cascade out of the speakers, there are rhythmic patterns to hold on to. The brain battering “8 ss.rd.mk” is a fine example where a dark and menacing slow march emerges from a seemingly random squall of feedback.

The most effective track is “29 ss.rd.gt” which looms out of a fog of white noise as a slow, alien pulse surrounded by distant drones of stark beauty. Absolutely hypnotic, at its heart there is a surprising serenity that pulls you into its sound-world. Then, towards the end, the darkness closes in and the nightmares start. The closing 28 minute epic is not, as you might expect, a total freak out, but on the whole a quiet, almost reflective piece centred around bass guitar notes with snippets of noise appearing and evaporating as quickly, with alien sounds like squeaking hinges and distressed geese adding to the mix.

No Exit is an impressively varied work that uses subtlety and force in equal measure. At times fierce and ugly, there are plenty of moments that are mesmerising, almost blissful.

Tracks
1 28 ss.rd 7:12
2 38 ss.mk 2:40
3 13 ss.rd.gt 2:49
4 44x ss.rd.bs 2:54
5 8 ss.rd.mk 8:47
6 29 sd.rd.gt 12:19
7 21 ss.rd.mk 6:28
8 ss.rd.mk.bs 27:48

Websites
www.flutteryrecords.com

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