Hadals/Japanese Women/Pleasuredome/Pornography/Settlement – Split (2015) — CS REVIEW

IMG_1689 copyTapes of a Neon God once more assemble a cadre of sounds you won’t likely hear elsewhere, and much like the previous collections you’ll find that the selection on this split offers another distinctive probe into the lesser known corners of these genres.

Containing five tracks that approach the task both differently and successfully, this limited, aesthetically stunning tape should interest those who’ve been following TOANG’s releases especially if you match my great enthusiasm for them.

This is TOANG #1 so stream it, dig in, and read below.

IMG_1686 copyAs I’ve mentioned before there’s been quite a few collections in the TOANG catalog. Each one changing things up, sometimes jarring, stirring, always gathering artists and sounds you might now catch elsewhere all in one place (usually related to noise or power electronics of some sort). Last year one of these splits made it on to my year end list: the Churchdweller/Hadals/Void En Vogue/Winter Ritual split was one tape I spent a good deal of time with.

This year TOANG #1 brings another five artists to the task and it has ended up a divergent collection, even in this series’ context. The key difference in this split’s contents is not only the inclusion of two acts which aren’t focused solely on noise or ambiance necessarily, but also those that do like Hadals take a different path than one might expect.

The line-up is: Anderson and Austin’s project Hadals, Austin’s noisecore band Japanese Women, death industrial act Pleasuredome, Anderson’s catastrophic solo project Pornography, and another enigmatic instrumental act Settlement.

Together their efforts flow smoothly and hit hard over a half hour, displaying intriguing nuance in their styles.

IMG_1717 copyThe initial track is “Coffinsleeper” performed by Hadals, and as I’ve noted in prior reviews in each new recording the chemistry between the two artists takes their sound in new directions successfully. No stale or derivative points of departure. In this instance it has once again resulted in something unexpected, and certainly captivating.

Whereas on the previous split the horrifying noise aspect was fundamental with touches of tense ambiance weaving a darker course, “Coffinsleeper” markedly different. The length is sheared, the focus is less incongruous and rather haunting, ethereal.

The distorted crashing and apocalyptic, alarm-like snyth tones swell eventually becoming muddy. This engulfing atmosphere is a lot different from their two most recent ventures, and certainly no less impressive. Later absolutely smother vocals, screams drug out surface as the dense, fluctuating noise cushioning beneath continues to spread, burning slow. Layers are slowly removed in final minutes, leaving indelible impressions as a single key strike repeats.

A massive track. I really enjoyed the change of pace Hadals created here, it’s a great start in context of the split and their split with Blsphm last year. Huge recommendation for those who like powerful atmospherics.

The second track comes from Japanese Women, a band that has strong ties to TOANG and it’s related projects and also who just released a new EP on their bandcamp. They’re weirdo ‘noisecore’ loosely one could argue, their contribution here in the form of “Fast Times on Oliver Road” which is a track that compliments that EP nicely.

Fuzzy, off kilter, loud all apply. Starting off a little thin and twangy, eventually more scruffy and violent, at about the halfway mark the anxiety begins to mount. Scraping rhythms meet bendy, shrill madness, eventually laughter and chants. It gets dirty for sure and I like that. Their contribution to this split stands out among the others sharply, continuing their tradition of strange noisy punk confidently.

IMG_1690 copyPleasuredome is an act I can find little to no information on, but with the track “Offal” their ambiguous origins fall to the wayside. It’s all abrasion and bass, a near four minute trail not unlike perhaps Crawl if more mechanical.

A torturous hammering lays a foundation as rumbling static and asymmetrical knocking fill out what the feedback doesn’t, and a very brief but ugly entrance of vocals near the slow-down end. Definitely dark and primitive death industrial right here.

A good preface to the next track in line. Flip the tape to side B and track four on this journey brings the listener to Pornography’s contribution “Rabbit”. Immediately greeted with a thunderous strike, the procession of words and chords elicits disgust as they should. Relentless brutality becoming sharper with each passing moment.

Anderson’s craft continues to impart it’s repugnance through dissonance expertly. It just gets heavier and heavier with each strike across the strings, by minute two in the drop out to silence can count as relief from pressure, only to return and slowly attack what sanity remains.

And finally Settlement executes the fifth track “Meridian Underground”, the longest entry at ten minutes and another surprise in this line up. A pronounced shift from the prior two songs’ attitudes as well. Driven by acoustic chords and a growing crackling feedback this feels like a more uneasy, stripped down Grails.

When the build stops half way in and the notes become less urgent and subdued (dog barking notwithstanding), another change occurs as overdrive is employed and a wicked fuzz soaks the chords. Heavy in an entirely different way for sure, especially as the percussion enters in the last three minutes to signal a more tumultuous rise to the finish.

Looking back over each track the diversity in sound as well as style is not only rich but genuine. It’s another example of Tapes of a Neon God succeeding in capturing and putting to analog form a unique, engaging group of sounds.

IMG_1714 copyIn terms of the physical release, as always TOANG knows how to get it done right. The art as you can see has that overhead projector, transparent quality with the dried x-rayed carapaces and remains; blurred and torn in places creating a nice visual noise. The black and white is stark, and the rainbow coloring on the track listings and title is a great touch. No inserts outside of the double-sided four panel j-card.

The cassette itself is also quite alluring, not just the marbled gold color but the labeling on each side; names splashed recklessly across both shell sides looking quite natural. It’s another great touch you often find altered across TOANG’s releases and here it’s particularly impressive. Pro tapes of course and nicely wrapped.

As always you can get a hold of the limited copies of this split collection by visiting TOANG via their webstore, or the bandcamp page which generously has this up as a free download. Limited and like half are already gone it seems so get on it. You will not be disappointed.

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