Just Space: LA County Morgue’s It Was Become Over reviewed


I don’t understand why people find noise music ‘difficult’ or ‘pretentious’ or ‘not musical enough’. Take this LA County Morgue cassette for instance, recently issued through Altered States Tapes. Few lives are lacking space for music like this because it’s virtually nothing. That is what’s appealing about it. It’s an adornment to silence. It’s an accessory for absence.

LA County Morgue is tainted silence. Unlike song, unlike composition, it’s not a sequence of moments. It’s a space. It is something you do not listen to, so much as visit. Above all else this LA County Morgue cassette reminds me of a flavour, or a paint colour, in the way it lends a certain charcoal shade to an otherwise white room. It’s unremarkable. It’s just a louder form of nothing.



No doubt many listeners and writers obsess over and question the relevance of noise music in 2014. I suppose noise music can no longer be a statement. I suppose it is no longer radical. It is ambience above all else. Actually, that is exactly what it is: it’s an ambience. It’s an impression and a point from which to begin. You do not gain answers or insight from a noise recording like this LA County Morgue cassette. None that are prescribed, anyway.

Pop music has to resonate widely in order to be deemed worthy, and rock music is currently in the midst of its umpteenth return from the grave. Why do we believe in these narratives? My belief is that noise music, ironically, is a type of music we can resort to when we do not desire meaning, or when we have tired of canned, readymade meanings.

What can this LA County Morgue cassette actually mean? What themes does it contain? How does it represent us? It doesn’t, and that’s a relief. How can any cultural artifact contain a truth? Noise music, once pregnant with theory and meaning, is now exactly what it could never have been when it emerged: totally lacking meaning. It took this long for its name to arrive at its purest meaning. This lack of meaning is the ultimate reflection of our reality.

There’s nothing particularly special about this LA County Morgue recording. It’s valuable because it lends a certain charcoal shade to an otherwise white room. I enjoy it for this reason, and that’s why you might choose this cassette over any other noise cassette.

I suppose it’s better to speak of noise music now, in the same way we do paint colours. But instead of the names of colours, we might use words for emotions, or impressions. Apply this LA County Morgue cassette when everything else leaves you feeling empty, or condescended to.


LA County Morgue’s It Was Become Over is available through Altered States Tapes.

New Music

Listen: Match Fixer – II

angelee1Match Fixer is a side project of Angel Eyes’ Andrew Cowie. The first Match Fixer material released last July in the form of a (now removed) 2013 Cricket Scandal EP, but now we have news that an official release is in the works, namely a split cassette with Glass Bricks due later this year through Altered States Tapes.

The below embedded track, simply titled ‘II’, will feature on the split cassette. So far Match Fixer has demonstrated a darker and more dense alternative to Cowie’s Angel Eyes work and this is no exception. Its sampled choral vocals and distorted snares sound close to industrial in spirit, with a chilliness that stands in contrast with Angel Eyes’ warm and welcoming productions.

2014 also holds the promise of new Angel Eyes material, so keep an eye out for that.



Beautiful Decline: Hour House’s Stroke reviewed


The facts: Hour House is the work of two former members of Newcastle group Castings, specifically Mark Leacy and Sam Kenna. They’re now based in Melbourne. Stroke is their first proper cassette release as Hour House, though they have also released music as Motion (Sic). Cooper Bowman, who runs the Altered States Tapes label, also features occasionally.

It’s hard to avoid drawing parallels with Castings, but one factor stands in contrast: I was surprised by this tape because I expected something far more fiddly and tentative. Castings always sounded tentative: a gathering of sounds which struggled captivatingly to transcend their beginnings. These occasionally erupted into moments either ugly or darkly beautiful, even both of these things at once. Stroke, on the other hand, sounds like a narrative. It sounds impeccably structured. It also, mood wise, feels like a decline. Several discrete declines contained inside a much larger one.

There’s a funereal atmosphere to Stroke. The empty frequency mourning at its beginning gives way to a warm glow part way through the cassette’s A-side. A fog of synths flag slowly at their edges, like heat on tarmac, and the melodies sound at the verge of disappearing. When this passage evaporates an ugly tape loop marks a more pure form of degradation. This theme of decay is apparent all the way through Stroke. Its containing world circles a drain. The A Side is a bleak, shallow ascent and then a long nauseating descent into death.

Its B-Side is different. A choral sample declines slowly, soon replaced by a sampled voice demanding it be allowed to sing in the background, to which another replies: “alright, but sing waay in the background!”

This is very funny, but Hour House is never at any other point funny. Listening to Hour House can sometimes feel like slowly going insane. All of its parts – the synths that struggle for brightness, the torpid washes of soft noise, the menacingly circular samples – achieve a state of mild, despondent paranoia.

Maybe this sense of mental unwellness is what naturally occurs when heavily treated and looped samples are allowed to sustain for too long. Or maybe it’s chemistry.  Afterall, there’s no doubting that much of the B-side here is reminiscent of The Caretaker’s productions, a project which deals solely in austerely manipulated source materials. But in the end, Hour House is focused on a more gruelling, less diagnosable and more personal trajectory of degradation. These sides are marked by glimpses of uncomplicated, fraying beauty which serve to make the bleaker parts all the more barren and unsettling.

Stroke is available through Altered States Tapes.

New Music

Listen: Half High – Shapeless Advice


Below is the untitled B-side from a new Half High 7 inch, out now through Altered States. Entitled Shapeless Advice, it’s the first new material the duo has released since last year’s pretty incredible CD-R/tape release Suspension. This track definitely errs closer to the gloomy side of what we’ve heard from the band so far. It sounds like a death march. I write about video games for a living (I know) and I wish game studios would use music like this in their depressing post-apocalyptic wasteland shooters instead of Eminem and token-Hollywood-score-guy, but there’s a lot wrong with video games and we won’t go into them now.

Coinciding with this release, by the way, is the LP reissue of Suspension through RIP Society. We described it back in 2012 as… well we didn’t describe it at all really, just shat on about Lovecraft and sentient machines for about 500 words. Decent read though. I’m gonna double dip and so should you.

New Music

Listen: Hour House – Stroke


Hour House is the duo of Mark Leacy and Sam Kenna, formerly of Newcastle group Castings. They used to go under the name Motion (Sic), and before that Orinokoflo, but now they’ve renamed ahead of a new cassette release through Altered States Tapes.

Entitled ‘Stroke’, the tape appears to be a collection of manipulated samples and synth improvisations, though I’ve only got the two embedded samples below to go by. Apparently the B side features input from Cooper Bowman too, who runs Altered States, plays in Flat Fix, and writes for Crawlspace sometimes. Usually anything that comes out of the Castings camp is worth investigating, so have a listen.