I’m not going to suggest to you that either of these releases is particularly good. They’re both difficult, beyond-the-edge, clamorous pieces of noise that will be inaccessible to most listeners. What I will suggest is that, taken strictly in context of intention, they both manage what they set out to do. Melted Cassette’s The Real Sounds from Hell Recordings is a full-on case of anti-music assault and battery with intent to kill. It’s what you get when you run 80s hardcore punk through a coarse meat grinder while beating a cheap synthesizer to death with a baseball bat. Angry screaming with the mic cranked up over the top, mangled electro-sounds and the tacit understanding that this duo pretty much don’t give a shaved rat’s ass what you think. It’s driving, dirty, desperately energetic and rages on for thirty-four relentless minutes.
Cheezhead make a slightly more approachable go with Circumstantual Pestilence, but keep the listener at bay by never offering anything solid to latch onto. It’s got moments of plunderphonic intention, dropping spoken-word tidbits into an endlessly churning and randomized storm of sound, but the chaos of it all makes it a migraine waiting to happen. There are two places in which Cheezface manage to latch on for me. One was with (I can’t believe I’m typing this) “Let Them Eat Urinal Cake,” a comparatively low-key blend of industrial grind and an electro-beat that would do early Devo proud. The other is with the closing track, the longest here at six minutes, “Ultra Violence in the House of the Chord.” Almost inexplicably, these guys manage to carve out a slow-moving hiss of sound that frequently erupts into bursts of electronic frenzy. I had to check to make sure I hadn’t switched to an entirely different album. The comparative subtlety was totally unexpected; this is the most readily listenable stretch on the disc. Circumstantial Pestilence is a scant 24 minutes long, but if you’re not prepared for it, it’ll leave you wondering what the hell is happening. Which, you have to figure, is the intent. Consider that the source material is recordings made in truck stop bathrooms; you’re already six steps into experimental land at that point, you’ve already decided that you’re on a course of shock and awe, and there’s no going back.
I do have to say that I took more away from the Cheezface disc than Melted Cassettes. I’ve been exposed to a lot of experimental music in my time here, and while I can’t say I like what Cheezface are doing, I certainly appreciate how they’re coming at it. What seems random isn’t, for the most part; there’s too much thought showing behind the craziness. Same goes for Melted Cassettes, who, if I may be so bold as to suggest, are much more about the performance side of this and their stuff needs to be ingested more in the context of a live show. Those who can open their heads to a very experimental mindset should look into these. All others, I’ve just saved you the cost of ibuprofen.
Available from Mind Flare Media.