Miserable Noise Club — Dust Coated Departure
(Bandcamp no#, 2019, DL)
Miserable Noise Club — Frost Confinement
(Bandcamp no#, 2018, DL)
Miserable Noise Club — Excerpts Shards Petals
(Bandcamp no#, 2019, DL)
Miserable Noise Club — Thoughts on the Impasse
(Bandcamp no#, 2019, DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2019-09-22
Welcome to our first review ever of the musical collective miserable.noise.club, said to be based in Charlotte, North Carolina, but also claiming members in Amman, Jordan and Guangzhou, China. Seven members named Abood Ashqar (synth / electronics / guitars), W.J. (guitars), Left (guitars / electronics / percussion), Mark Lee (guitars / electronics / percussion), Neon (guitars), Zhan Hua (guitars), Shaher Majali (guitars) are listed. They have no less than seven releases since January 2018, yet our contact Mr. Ashqar did not want to clue me in as to who played what on which tracks, and instead provided this information: “We intentionally don't specify who played what on each album / track. Some tracks feature only one member, others more. It's just something we mutually agreed on.” We were asked to review two of their albums: Frost Confinement from June 2018, and Dust Coated Departure from April 2019, but while we are at it, we might as well cover all four releases from 2019, which would include excerpts.shards.petals from January 2019 (a single fourteen minute track), Thoughts on the Impasse from June 2019, and Given to Heartache II from July 2019 (another single track, but only four minutes). Their material all tends to be in a somewhat similar vein, what could loosely be called ambient instrumental post-rock, generally soothing to the spirit, interesting though not overly complex, and not particularly edgy or grating. The opening track on Frost Confinement is “Noriko, Let’s Go Home,” which starts with a swirling organ reminiscent of Pink Floyd in their soundtrack period; electric guitar plays a single chord repeatedly, sometimes quickly, sometimes one note at a time, while random cymbal crashes punctuate the atmospherics. Simple, but an effective introduction to their sonic world. Some of the cuts, like “Distress Signal (The Stranger’s Divide)” that follows, feature taped voices that come in amid dissonance and other mysterious sonics. Some cuts feature a steady beat, though more likely a drum computer program, but almost all feature electronics / synth and one or more effected guitars. The cut “They’re Here, They Have Arrived. Keep Quiet and They Will Be Gone Soon” has multiple layers of droning electronics winding through a somewhat varied percussive attack, with a strong but simple melody beaming up through the depths. Their music tends to be very cinematic and captivating, regardless of what they are doing. Album closer “Together+Never = Sleepless+Forever” has a minimalist industrial feel throughout it, borne of what sounds like a reed organ (though I believe it’s just an effected guitar), though still has room for a beautiful and melodic guitar line. And there you have it, six cuts totalling around 28 minutes, which is the longest of the five releases here.
Next we have excerpts.shards.petals, which is an interesting block of improvisation between various instruments – the first part mostly wandering guitars, percussion and electronics, that does a complete changeover in the middle and crossfades to a different improv session, and then again at around the ten minute mark; while this is only a fourteen minute single track, it’s one of the most engaging of all of their releases.
One of the more interesting cuts on Dust Coated Departure is “Absence of Glass,” which seems to be recorded entirely in reverse on guitar and keyboards, while “Subpolar Cluster Sculpture” is built up from a repeating loops and (what appears to be) a live drum kit, leaving the listener suspended in the stratosphere.
The newest release, Thoughts on the Impasse, is only four short cuts, two of which were culled from previous releases, but just might serve as an excellent entry point for the curious potential new listener. Best bet is to go to their Bandcamp page – the five releases reviewed here as well as the two previous ones are available as downloads at a very reasonable price (wink, wink).
Related artist(s): Miserable Noise Club
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more