At the end of the last decade I started to, in a big way, drift away from the alternative/electronic sound that defined most of the 90s for me. “Nu Metal” hit, the once great CFNY Toronto faded into dull mediocrity, and I was free of the normalizing effects of high school. I began to look for something different and as it was my freshman year it was the perfect time to start experimenting. The proliferation of broadband, mp3s, web streaming radio, and, most importantly, Napster facilitated this. The constant search for new music that dawned then has stayed with me for this day.
Somehow I ended up within the “industrial” realm and I listened to a lot of stuff that I now consider embarrassing. But despite all that sad and whiny EBM, the genre led me to Ant-Zen records where I discovered the more aggressive, and far less lyrical (thank god, because that’s not the scene’s strong point), sub-genre of “rhythmic noise.” This was about as far as I could get from what was getting radio airplay at the time. It was perfect.
Two acts stood out for me: Synapscape and Imminent Starvation (who subsequently dropped the “Starvation” part.) The latter’s 1999 album “Nord” was for me, and still is, the essential album of the genre. Noisy, glitchy, brooding music that has shaped a lot of my tastes in the 2000s. While I’ve since mellowed, a good rhythmic noise album can still be a cathartic joy when frustrations with work, or whatever, boil over. The problem is that a good rhythmic noise album is hard to come by, and “Nord” was getting overplayed.
Imminent released a bunch of splits with Synapscape between 2000 and 2005, including a series of really good “The Incredible Three” 7”s that incorporated a Morricone spaghetti-western motif, but no follow-up album. Without his contributions, the genre felt smaller and lesser. There was an occasional track on a compilation and the odd remix here and there, but no proper, and full, Imminent release. Not until last month, ten years later.
To say that it caught me by surprise would be an understatement. After a casual listen I was initially disappointed, but I knew I wasn’t in the proper mindset to appreciate the genre again. I waited until it came and, after some frustrations with work, I gave it another shot. It has sunk its sharp rusted claws into me. It’s so good. It makes me wonder what else I might have missed from the genre in the last decade.
Of all the tracks on “Cask Strength”, “Lorsc” (embeded above) is the most unusual. It incorporates and samples a lot of those Morricone sounds that were on “The Incredible Three” — wailing brass, sparse electric guitar chords, and whistling, lots of whistling — and because of those ends up being the most melodic thing on the album. It’s the most accessible track; the one track that people might overhear without asking you if your speakers are broken. The one that won’t instantly scare a lot of people away.
But when you do want to chase those ghosts away feel free to change to the speaker busting and abrasive “Rubbs.” Because when you’re looking for catharsis, it’s best to break a speaker than your fist.
As night comes earlier and earlier and my strolls through this city more often take me through dark routes and park ways I tend to listen to more brooding and ambient music. Droning instruments and found sounds and slow heart-beat patterns dominate. I imagine film noir scores by way of David Lynch and David Fincher, which is an apt description for Klimek’s cinematic “Movies Is Magic” album.