The enigmatic ¡NO! entity has been lingering on the fringes of Dublin’s musical underground of the last 3-4 years, sporadically birthing a handful of CDR, cassette and download releases, and conducting dedicated “Concrete Soup” events of noise and collaboration. Whether by accident or willful obliqueness, the group’s search-engine repellent name and stealthy operations ensured that it remained somewhat of an obscurity. Now in collaboration with Little Gem records, the group finds itself slightly above radar with a beautifully presented 12” vinyl release (which was heralded by an unequivocally low fidelity launch gig poster – some would be mean-spirited and simply call it shit – I will resist).
This is the tenth ¡NO! release and second full-length album. 2015’s self-titled debut was a revelation – from the animated dispatches of MAPSTAINS to the Psilocybin flutters of SKELETALIA – this was an album laced in the juicy fruits of incendiary eclecticism, and one that got heavy rotation around these ears.
SEDIMENTS is a reduction in many ways. Gone are the barbs of post-punk and dribbles of Faustian zeal, and the album is very singular in its focus. Four separate pieces of music are constructed in such a way that the whole record can be taken more or less as one 39-minute soundtrack.
LONE AND LEVEL SANDS lurks with a deceptive ambience of bass undulation and overlapping cymbal whispers, while a noir sax meander and squawk teases the possibility that this could break into either Albert Ayler dissonance or Bernard Herrmann ‘Taxi Driver’ sleaze. It does neither, unfolding instead as a large amorphous composite of invocation and trepidation as it spills over into ONLY THE WIND’S HOME. Here, something ceremonial about the chiming intro and cymbal washes ratifies the micro-industrial flow and minimal jazz melody of the next 12 minutes. On the flipside, SINISTRA offers something more strobing and caustic, with a studious nod to a spectrum of early 70s Germanic audio experiments. Of the 4 pieces on the album, this has most in common with the material on the debut. OVER THE LAST SKYSCRAPER A SILENT is led by rattling percussion in loosest possible sense, and covertly layered elements eventually sneak up into the mix, merging with one final extemporised sax passage at the album’s conclusion.
Although minimalism and sonic distillation are the prime tools here, nothing in the end result is filtered to the point of being deficient or threadbare. So much informs the approach SEDIMENTS takes to its noise that there’s substance in the moments where very little seems to be happening. While the debut remains the greater broad-stroke of adventure into sound, SEDIMENTS is clearly the result of extensive group improvisation – intuitively elbowing around in the dark for all that this immersive process offers. For best results, play loud and treat it as one straight listen rather than 4 separate tracks.
Not appearing at a wedding near you any time soon.