BARRIKAD We Make Nihilists Smile Again
CD, Phage Tapes 2011
On this album Barrikad collaborates with three other entities; respectively, Kriminaaliset Metsanhaltijat, Fear Konstruktor and Government Alpha. I was unfamiliar with Barrikad until now and given that this is a collaborative effort it’s difficult to know how indicative these pieces are of the project’s usual work.
Having greatly enjoyed Kriminaaliset Metsanhaltijat’s cd on Bloodlust and the “NATO” cassette on Triangle I was particularly interested in this collaboration and I’m pleased to report it is not disappointing. Nor is it as over-whelming as those albums, but that’s mainly due to the rather dark, more restrained use of sound. Soft filthy hissing, gritty droning, throbbing and grumbling, the sounds of stressed junk being squeaked and rasped, some occasional sounds like bells giving an almost site-recording feel - the piece “Black Hammers” is a collage of dirty electronics and acoustics forced to stew in a pit of dirty fog. Industrial Ambient. Not without intensity but more suffocating than explosive, the visceral grind of collective daily living and existing.
Fear Konstruktor I haven’t followed with any great detail, apart from some material from the RONF label, and don’t remember as anything out-standing one way or the other. The piece “Governmentality” seems to consist of a crackling, minimal tone with a nice, gutty depth that is manipulated on intervals, sounding indifferently non-human. There’s more going on in the actual tone than any static WN bullshit, fortunately, and the drama is increased when some backwards-masked vocals are introduced. It took me a couple of listens to get the focus of this piece, but when I did I found the covert threatening nature of it appealing. Like “Black Hammers” it is the under-stated, darker, stressed nature of the spiral that works for me. More minimal but with a demand for concentration.
After the under-statement of the two longer spirals, the harsher burst of “Destroy, Destroy, Destroy” is a contrast. Shrieking, spluttering feedback heralds a crashing, bashing kind of sound that could well be metal through effects, to be joined by additional electronics and so forth. Just good, wholesome Harsh Noise with all the usual elements. Just how much of this is Barrikad? It’s very hard to judge as this piece sounds almost entirely like Government Alpha’s usual output. In fact, perhaps it doesn’t so much contrast as clash with the two earlier works? This piece, using mostly single source, doesn’t quite grip the listener as much as the previous pieces, having a suspiciously going-through-the-motions feel to it.
The liner notes are interesting - lengthy extracts from a book called “The Coming Community” by one Giorgio Agamben. Under titles like “Whatever”, “From Limbo” and “Demonic”, the writing is part academic, part poetic. More food for thought than can be outlined in a simple music review, although I’m certainly pleased to be pointed to the author Robert Wasler of whom I was previously unaware.
Phage Tapes have, as usual, released another quality album. Perhaps a little uneven in it’s impact, but worth the purchase for the two longer spirals at the least.
Here is a review of the Barrikad “We make nihilists smile again” CD written by the good people at Musique Machine
At first glance, with its psychedelic flower-power nudie cover, this CD looks like an Acid Mothers Temple release but its contents couldn’t be more far away from the Japanese collective’s noise psych rock. Instead Barrikad is a pretty well known industrial noise act, with usually politic thematics and a very ample range of sounds. Each of the three tracks on “We Make Nihilists Smile Again” features the support of another artists.
First track is a collaboration with kvlt old school industrial band Kriminaaliset Mersanhaltijat and it’s a long dirty ambient noise ride based on throbbing low synth frequencies and what sounds like crude field recordings of metal junk being kicked around. Very oppressive, obscure and mean, with few slow variations that keep things interesting and flowing.
Second track features Russian noise unit Fear Konstruktor. It’s more or less the same kind of noisy ambient but with different ingredients. It sounds like a boiling cauldron of piss and static, a bit more distorted than the first track and with a few minutes of totally broken vocals.
Third track is a collaboration with Government Alpha, one of my favourite noise musicians. The duo already released a 3” CDr years ago on the German label L.White Records, and after having listened to both records I think that these guys are a good match. Solid harsh noise with all the right elements: hiss and crackle, head-bobbing rhythmic loops that rise from the static mud, abrupt shifting of intensity and frequencies. It’s nothing shockingly incredible but it’s what I love best.
The booklet features lengthy writings by Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben that frankly I didn’t really bother to read. I guess they’re part of Barrikad’s ideas, concept and intents but anyway I thoroughly enjoyed the weird mixture they create with the hippie (swedish?) boobs on the cover.
In conclusion this is a very good release from an interesting project and a great and promising young American noise label. Fans of harsh noise and dirty industrial music will not be disappointed.
released April 7, 2012
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