This music is the brainchild of Michael Woodman, guitarist and vocalist in Thumpermonkey, written using the immersion composition techniques described in The Frustrated Songwriter’s Handbook. The method seems to work. I have no idea what method he employs when writing for Thumpermonkey, but that seems to work too, and for several reasons Eat Your Robot sound a lot like his other band. One reason is the lyrical style; another is the way the melodies are phrased; another is Woodman’s singing, which is highly distinctive; and equally important are his guitar playing and riff writing, which are a …
When we get to the fourth track, ‘Womb’, we learn that Cthulhu Detonator is capable of changing tack. There is still noise, in the sense of forcefully stochastic elements within the timbre of the music, but the principal sound is tonal, sonorous and enveloping. ‘Blinding White Light’ takes a similar approach, as does the mid-section of ‘Transmit.Disintegrate’, but most of the rest of the record consists of much harsher noise based compositions, with an avant-gardist structural approach that eschews any easy aesthetic options. It’s hard going, demanding listening, but it’s very creative stuff, and well worth the effort.
at one with the machine is the sophomore release and point of exit for Jason Norwood’s studio powernoise project code 000. Two albums have evidently been enough to scratch that creative itch for him, but he has made good use of his time in the world of electronic distortion and jackhammer beats. Powernoise is a genre that demands its practitioners take a position on issues around humanity and creative agency; its basic materials are both mechanistic and aurally abrasive, admitting neither conventional aesthetic valuations nor traditional notions of expressive craft. Some notable proponents of the style embrace these features wholeheartedly, presenting desolate soundworlds of post-human indifference, whose entire audience appeal …
When music has no lyrical content, its titles become gnomic and mysterious, intentionally or otherwise. ‘Our Floor With All Its Beliefs’ could be taken in so many different ways, but to be honest I think it’s best not to take it at all. Unless there is a very clear relationship between the musical themes and title it’s safest to assume it’s some kind of private joke or reference, and concentrate on the sound instead: and surely the point of music which refuses, not only verbal language, but the established tropes of musical narrative, is to present itself to the auditory cortex abstractly, as sound, in just the same way that the stone reproduced as the cover of Tone presents itself to the visual cortex.
Noise, and the way it is employed in music, invites a whole array of speculations on the coherence and incoherence of communicative acts, and of the relationship between the meaningful and the meaningless, the carrier signal and the message, the form and the content. The word ‘noise’ is frequently used to label irrelevance, the continual influx of sensory stimulation of no direct value to the receiver, or scientific data of no importance to the experimental result, for example. In music, it is impossible to make a clear distinction between the medium and the message, and we must assume that everything we hear in a recording or performance is an aspect of its meaning: what it sounds like is what it means.
Chiptune purists may stick exclusively to using sounds as they are synthesised by their chosen platform, but there’s a well established set of musical practices that take the sounds of a Gameboy, an Amiga, or, in this case, an Atari 2600, and liberally mash them up. Mike Bourque likes to slather distortion over his sounds, but he still has an ear for the original context of his instrument; the sounds captured on Return Of The Bloop Beep Buzz are not sourced exclusively from his computers, but they are deeply, nostalgically redolent of the sounds that accompanied many geeky kids’ gaming experiences in the 1980s.
There’s more than a nod to dreampop and shoegaze in this music, but Lisa Masia and Marina Cristofalo are clearly too in love with the raw and ragged sound of a distorted electric guitar to tame it to the extent that might imply. Some of Wish You Were A Pony is downright heavy! This is pop music, but not lowest-common-denominator, mass-market pop; it’s pop because it’s all about simple, accessible melodies, infectious, danceable rhythms, lush, inviting soundscapes, and, well… fun.