Music Reviews
Byla + Jarboe

Byla + Jarboe

Viscera

Translation Loss

An experiment in power through surrender, this collaboration between Byla (a noise unit featuring members of Dysrhythmia and Behold The Arctopus) and darkling chanteuse Jarboe (she of the mighty Swans and Beautiful People, Ltd.) is a thing of strange, almost too difficult beauty and surely a stylistic departure for both. Divided into three, long, sprawling edifices of solid state noise with two gentle, almost courtly and medieval acoustic guitar interludes breaking up the architecture, Viscera seeks and finds the meditative, prayerful, and ambient textures in destructive guitar noise and feedback. But lest ye think that this is some No New York style skronkfest, beware sinner! Every note on Viscera is tightly controlled and firmly yoked to a precise set of sonic blueprints. The sounds that are carefully sculpted and shaped from these guitars are too solid and dense to be chording, deceiving the ear into mistaking sonics for firm dimensions, measurements, and demarcations of three-dimensional space — albeit a buzzing, throbbing space constructed of sharp harmonics.

The tracks conjure up brief glimpses of Metal Machine Music, industrial machinery, James Plotkin and Stephen O’Malley’s more ambient excursions, and Boyd Rice’s later works with NON, but more often than not the music coalesces into sharp spearlike points that resemble the harsh, windswept riff-constructs of the best black metal (Mayhem, Glorior Belli, Immortal) stripped of all adornment — and indeed aggression — and just standing there naked, gleaming in a vacuum. Black metal as creation, an endless echo loop replicating itself into infinity, bouncing off satellites and stars, rather than a spike-gloved fist clenched in ulcerated aggression. No percussion, no bass/low end — just tightly condensed and carefully rendered blocks of vibrating blackmass. Add to that Jarboe’s almost-submerged vocal contributions — long inward breaths, choked exhalations, gulps, moans, hums, hymnal calls, primal death metal howls (ceasing to be human expression and becoming something Other), lurching hoarse groans marshaling the rush of black noise into a constant precise march. But then sudden intrusions, like the pulse of a tiny bell, throw off the ear and scatter the thoughts, and it seems as though these two factions have arrived at something new and stark.

Translation Loss Records: http://www.translationloss.com


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