Sound effects

Pub date January 27, 2010

MUSIC One can infer a lot about a musician’s relationship to hardcore from their effects pedals. Black Flag pissed off the jocks by growing their hair out and exploring ponderous jam-band territory, but modulating the guitar signal might have been a more serious affront. Black Dice took the latter tack, with Bjorn Copeland’s guitar playing the role of sound generator in contrast to Greg Ginn’s Tourette’s-stricken riff machine. Philadelphia’s David Harms goes by Mincemeat or Tenspeed and does the narrative one better by dispensing with the guitar altogether: his rig consists of a feedback circuit of effects pedals and a mixer.

There may be only one other notable instance of this kind of setup: Nurse With Wound’s uncharacteristic triple-LP of rippling metallic drones, Soliloquy for Lilith (Idle Hole, 1988). NWW’s Steven Stapleton claims to have created the album by gesturing in the air above the circuit — he puts it down to an electrical anomaly in the studio — but Mincemeat’s Harms is more accurately imagined trying, with limited success, to contain his own in-the-red squall by throwing his upper torso over a guitar-pedal-ringed Eye of Sauron. The sound-dust Harms assembles into the seven well-structured pieces that make up Strange Gods (Zum) moves at a velocity and with a restlessness that recall minimalist composers as well as the formal noise bacchanal of Kevin Drumm’s Sheer Hellish Miasma (Mego, 2002). It’s all-American, free-form blood ‘n’ guts noise that takes formal and textural cues from early electronic music — Hair Police listening to Gordon Mumma.

If Mincemeat or Tenspeed’s noise Ouroboros encircles hardcore, their Zum labelmates High Castle (note the initials) use it for rocket fuel. The band shares the bill for tomorrow’s show at the Stud Bar with Mincemeat, but invites comparison with late-1990s punk, though it’s hard to point to a single band. Easier to call out the signs: the trio takes their name from a Philip K. Dick novel, sings in unison without harmonies, features aggressive but rhythmically elastic drumming, and named their best song “Filth.” Fidelity-wise, High Castle’s debut 12″ You’re on Your Own Way sounds damp and fuzzy, like the band (all three members are So Cal natives) is trying to thrash their way to heat. Though the band’s lo-fi production style sounds rote, the way they’re pulling inspiration from neglected corners of underground rock gives a different impression.


With High Castle, Strip Mall Seizures, Zoo

Thur/28, 9 p.m., $3

The Stud Bar

399 Ninth St.