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
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more