In past encounters with Ryan Huber, posing as Olekranon and Sujo, he has fairly bludgeoned me with ultra-dense, noisy industrial drone. These were beatings I gladly accepted. Now, donning his 303 Committee mask, he takes a fresh tack and tries to insinuate his dark musings into my head by way of subtlety and hypnosis. The noise is still here, but it’s a hissing, whispering, patiently insistent thing, grey noise as opposed to black with virtually no sharp edges in sight–although rough textures abound. This self-titled release will find its strongest audience among those who like a dark and minimalist approach, but an accepting listen, working past the sometimes gritty, always moving surface, reveals Huber’s layering. A rhythm lurks in the opening crush of “Augmented”; chanting voices are buried under over-amped sound in “Junta,” coming out like a hymn in the midst of a holocaust; a faint chord progression seems to peer out of the wash in “Opium King,” always kept at a distance. When Huber decides to unleash on his listener, it’s more effective for the lack of obvious power in the tracks before it. “A Sinking Ship” slides in on a warbling drone and a slow, single beat that lulls you yet again into soft-brained complacency before it bursts like sudden anger into aggressive wallops of sound–and then they’re gone and we’re back in the big, ambient wash of “Aught.”
This disc is only half an hour long, but it’s packed. Again, if you listen, it helps if you’re amenable to very minimalist, noise-based structures. The comparative softness of the noise–that is, compared to what I’d normally think of as noise–is both surprising and engaging, and it’s not as if the work suffers in potency from it. On each subsequent listen I found myself diving more into the subtlety of Huber’s construction, the small shifts of tone and the things buried under the grit and darkness. Not for everyone, but everyone should try. There’s more here than first meets the ear.
Available from Bandcamp. (Physical discs are/were limited to 33 copies–and I believe I have number 22.)