Release Date: Nov 6, 2012
Record label: Editions Mego
Genre(s): Electronic, Avant-Garde, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Noise
As night fell on the 20th century, Chicago improviser Kevin Drumm began to gather up all its darkest strands in one corroded braid. His starting point was an electric guitar, laid clinically on a slab, and dissected in neat, quiet strokes. Over the next 15 years and counting, he grew louder, bolder, and more ambitious, drawing in aspects of black metal, harsh noise, drone, concrete music, and free electronics.
If descriptors such as pedal effects, warped electronics, pulse generators, piercing feedback, prepared guitar, tape manipulations, modular synthesizer, and ear-bursting computer-assisted noise set your heart aflutter, then Relief, the latest 40-minute bout of audio experimentation from Kevin Drumm, is set to be a dream (or should that be nightmare?) come true. The Chicago, Illinois-based musician emerged from the city’s experimental scene in the ‘90s, and has since recorded 40-plus albums of challenging and often nerve-shredding noise. His array of splits, CDs, LPs, and limited release CDRs traverse the auditory spectrum, from tension-ridden ambient and electro-acoustic suites through to massively distorted, dense and decimating guitar and synth compositions.
Kevin Drumm’s greatest successes in his long career have occurred when the chaos of his music utterly overwhelms the listener’s sense of authorship. Of course, he’s always in control, but quite early on, with albums like the classic Sheer Hellish Miasma or Horror of Birth, the illusion of reckless abandonment to sonic violence overtakes any sense that anything other than some mad, inhuman force controls what we’re hearing. Such a feeling might derive from a number of sources: sensory and affective overload, the sheer impenetrability of the architecture of the piece, the inability to determine the source of the sounds, activation of fear and pleasure centers in the brain, or finally just total immersion.