issue 15 :: July 2008

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REVIEW: African, Middle-Eastern Asian Noise Compilation

"Beyond ignorance and borders" CD [Syrphe]

reviewed by Josh Ronsen


Twenty different musicians from twenty different non-Western countries contribute varied takes at noise music. You may remember Randy Yau’s survey of harsh power electronics from Asian countries, “soundtracks for bride of sevenless” (Auscultare) which collected mainly from Japanese and Chinese (including Taiwan) sources.

Hùng Nguyen Manh [Vietnam]
“Beyond ignorance...” takes us to Lebanon, Laos, the U.A.E., Egypt, Morocco, Singapore, Algeria, South Africa, Vietnam. You may be surprised at how good some of this music is, or how contemporaryit sounds, or how varied the approaches are.
Seventeen Migs of Spring [Israel] / Li Chin Sung [Hong Kong]
The only name I recognize is the Israeli noise group Seventeen Migs of Spring, who offer a chaotic mix of electronic drones, bleeps and squelches which seems to be a live performance of three musicians and not a monstrous sequencer belch. The Seventeen Migs of Spring is part of an active noise/punk scene in Israel.

Yan Jun [China]
Yan Jun (China)’s “Useless Summer” throbs and tickles within a torrent of insect-sounding noises.

C-drík [Belgium] & Khamsuane Vongthomkhan [Laos]
And label-head and compiler C-dríik improvises with Laotian Khamsuane Vongthomkhan, fusing C-drík’s laptop beats with a local string instrument playing what sounds like a traditional melody. Also using local material is Li Chin Sun’s use of Tibetan monk music, although we don’t know if Sung went to Tibet or his “Tibetan friends” came to Hong Kong.

Cliquetpar [Thailand]
Cliquetpar [Thailand] delivers a spunky electro-clash song fully of modulated synth lines and blasts of electronic beats, which I started to enjoyed once I boosted the volume to make out the buried vocals.

Astronoise [South Korea]
The South korean Astronoise and the Algerian Nepa ios both erupt deafening power electronics for fans of Macronymphia and RRRecords. Li Chi Sung Trio from Hong Kong/Mongolia utilize what sounds like Tuvan throat singing in their mix, and the Indonesian Kalimayat start their power electronics squeal with a Monkey Chant sample.

One Man Nation [Singapore]
What is missing from the release are all the stories of who these creators are and how they came to make such music. One can easily imagine people from all over adopting/adapting rock, jazz, blues and hip-hop to their local cultures. It is harder to imagine how these musicians came to music which generally seeks to disrupt or ignore popular genres. But there are emails and webpages listed for every group implying the Internet has become a great cultural messenger across the world.
A second collection entitled Pangaea Noise has also been released, featuring music from an additional 11 countries, also released on Syrphe and lovingly compiled by C-drik. These records make perfect listens for those times due to ear fatigue, you just can’t decide what record to put on.
Astronoise photo by C-drík Fermont.
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