A Journal Of The Dark Arts
its disconcerting to watch the commodification of Noise music. What was once the most anarchic and anti-social of genres has been reduced to the same old power moves, sheets of static and howling feedback, possibly some maniac ranting about molestation or the evils of modified milk, over a shitty distorted mic. Noise-bros have taken over, and turned the form into a predictable ritual, played out over and over, a copy of a copy, forever losing vitality.
Its funny that William Bennett, who helped create the Power Electronics genre with his group Whitehouse in the late ’70s, is now helping to re-invigorate the form with his new Cut Hands project, with their self-described ‘Afro-Noise’. On last year’s Afro-Noise vol. 1, Cut Hands came out with a cyberpunk voodoo seance, blending traditional Haitian and Ghanian percussion with deadened distorted guitars, squeaks, creaks, and moans. What we’re left with sounds like Wolf Eyes playing with Konono No. I at a junkyard rave, or a rusty port city in Northeast Africa, circa 2076. Post-apocylptic in the extreme, this is crumbling music from the margins. Cut Hands are invoking the future.
In an interview with NPR, Bennett described the similarity and differences between Whitehouse, Cut Hands, and traditional trance musics:
Well, you know, I’m not really a musicologist, so it’s not really for me to comment on other people’s — I do what I do and what is, is and what isn’t, isn’t, if you know what I mean. In speaking for myself, which I’m more qualified to do, I accept that it is in some ways more accessible through the presence of rhythms. That said, [it’s] so much more complex than the kinds of rhythms that people tend to refer to. What I mean by complex is that the brain can’t process them in the way where you can just tap your foot and know where each beat is coming.
So, yes, there are definite rhythms and the brain recognizes them as rhythms and there’s a degree of repetition, and, yet, at the same time the brain can’t process the complexity of it in a way to predict what is coming up next. Therefore, we’re operating in a realm somewhere between the two places.
The other aspect is that there aren’t vocals and so you don’t have this conscious language experience that you would get if someone is singing. To compensate for that, in the live setting there are visuals and other aspects that I call “transparent concessions.” Essentially, the intent is the same: basically, to blow people’s f——— minds.
Blowing minds, indeed. Perhaps the world is more suited for Bennett’s dystopian message, now, with the recent popularity of Dominick Fernow’s Vatican Shadow moniker, the decaying electronics of Demdike Stare, the grinding repetition of Regis and his Downwards imprint – we all seem to crave the ego-eradicating tumult of amniotic industrial percussion. We are watching humanity, and culture, revert to a form of tribalism, with all the rituals and superstitions intact. Cut Hands are making a modern Vodoun music, that is dark and primal and powerful. Ritual music from the innovator, that leaves the imitators choking on dust.
Bennett is British. This is a rare occurrence to see the REAL underground, in the flesh. Local Noise Legend Daniel Menche, along with the drone king Thrones.
Bow down and give thanks that you live someplace with a noise scene.