The world of recorded noise is a divisive one – deeply personal to those who construct it and abhorred by those who, often for very logical reasons, have no taste for it. The cliché is some gonk with Jay North hair and vaguely military black garb gigging pre-recorded material on a laptop in front of 9 nerds. Presenting an image of rabid devotion to the harshest of the harsh, they will deny all else as weak like some petulant teenage metaller. At home they will listen to crap 80s synth pop.
And while there are plenty of those fools measled around the noise spectrum of music, it is individual creative freaks, not scenesters, who drive it forward – the glorious abrasions of KK Null and the visionary constructs of Contagious Orgasm both spring to mind as very different expert proponents of noise as music (and personal favourites).
Of course, the idea of journeying to the outer reaches of noise is not new, nor is it inherently Japanese or Germanic (or wherever) based on musical histories or trends. Simply put, it is an instinctive act belonging nowhere in particular, with tributaries feeding it from electronica, modern classical, ambient black metal, guitar sludge and many other sources.
As I am new to the output of Luxury Mollusc, the artist’s progress across half a dozen releases is something I can’t comment on here. Regardless, it makes sense to intersect this flow of noise at (what is for me) a random point, rather than studying the trajectory as if it were the progression of a band based project.
OSSEOUS LABYRINTH VESTIBULE comes to us from Galway label Cursed Monk Records (Gourd, Weedpriest, Ruairi O’Baoighill and others…) and is divided into six Roman-numeralled passages. These passages each have an assigned subtext, but whether these are titles, absent lyrical sketches, thematic hints or random prose fragments is unclear. Suffice to say that Luxury Mollusc intends them to be an integral part of the overall body of work and that’s why they’re there.
Part I, “Interminable Coiling Descent. The Mind A Sink Hole. A Knot Of Twisted Screw Caves” storms into play, weathering its initial brutal audio crags and transitions through variations of electronic scree. Vocals punctuate in the form of treated guttural rasps with little pretense of lexical content. It succeeds in its intentions as a pulverizing but varied 9 minutes. Part II, “Thorax Prone. The Spine A Mute Funeral Procession All Columns Wilt All Forms Mourn And Crumble” is more abrasive, with an industrial density that heavily marinades the detail. Just after the halfway mark, much of this erodes and the vestiges of what may have been hidden underneath all along are exposed – a dispirited soundtrack of synth drones and the leveling of the final freestanding gable ends of noise. Part III, “Mandible Quelled. The Jaw As Spiral Hinge The Throat As Portal Loss As Bread Perpetually Broken” undulates and crashes into a curious tangle of sound with a fragmented musique concrète quality – Liquid, perceived choking, cymbal washes and invocations. And although it is mentioned in the title, I am suspicious that bread is not the subject of this piece of music at all. This makes me somewhat sad.
Part IV, “Swallow Migration Hope As The Sinking Crumb You Choke On Regurgitation As Communion Bile As Ink” is the shortest piece of music here. This is a stormy vignette strobing a beam of sound around itself like a sonic warning beacon at the perimeter of the territory OSSEOUS LABYRINTH VESTIBULE creates for itself. Part V, “Enamel Waiting Room. Deaf Light Stretching Shadow Signature In A Book Bound By Broken Teeth Shrapnel” is another short piece, threatening representation as the sole chiming meditative section of the album for the first few seconds. Any delusions of tranquility are swiftly set to rights with a selection of lacerations, shatterings, white noise and constricted vocals. Of all the passages here, Part V most feasibly suggests a course of events, but what they might be is anyone’s guess. Finally, Part VI, “Chemical Clemency. Masturbation A Mechanism Of Mercy. The Lenience Of Pre-Cum Curdled Semen In Fine Wine” raises its pangs of noise slow and steady, variously in a fragmented and solid flow of noise, until everything becomes a steady torrent. Feedback rises and falls from the mix and when this all subsides, it departs with a satisfaction that it probably shouldn’t. The bluebottle blitz at the very end is a nice touch!
For all its designs to veer toward the horrific, OSSEOUS LABYRINTH VESTIBULE has a lingering ritual ambience about it. Noise can be strange in that way – What is processed by the listener may/may not be what the creator envisaged. Texture overlap and electronically masticated layers of sound are less prescriptive than what is parochially acknowledged as within the boundaries of music, and are many things to many sets of ears as a result. Ultimately, OSSEOUS LABYRINTH VESTIBULE is the result of cognitive audio sculpting, keeping its components of noise rolling over at a steady and digestible pace, with a mindfulness that there’s always a thin line between expanding creative boundaries and numbing the brain.
A release catering for a diasporic and specialist audience, definitely – but one recommended for thirsty open ears.