Karl Vorndran, “Thawing” tape

November 13, 2012
By Bobby Power

Karl Vorndran’s Thawing fills that forever unsatisfied hunger for obliterating noise. That primal, essential want (need?) for self destruction via audio. Some may refer to it as annoying buzzes or uninspired fuckery, but Vorndran’s striking some masochistic chords here. Take the 17-minute opener “3 Transients,” for example. What first seems to be the aural equivalent of La Monte Young driving a locomotive straight through your skull turns out to be the an exercise in over-exposure meditation. The assault feels like the lead blanket during an x-ray, providing dense focus in intangible invaders. I think back to Lester Bangs’ thoughts on Metal Machine Music, where the barrage falls somewhere between comfort and battery – a potential cure for one’s hangover sound only a (literal) hermit crab could love.

Vorndran continues his mastery of his machines (mainly synth patches and whatnot) throughout this tape’s duration. On “M2A,” the rising and falling cycle of sines resembles the voice of a strangled man, analog synths previously owned and destroyed by Richard D. James, and a jet engine installed by Masami Akita himself. The satanstornade continues on “Crisis Inverted,” a rather spaced-out piece that “calms” the proceedings somewhat. Helicopter blades chopping the air are replaced by sheets of fire, a wall of synthetic napalm. Flecks of retro-futuristic effects litter the scene in a dementedly comical way, but you’re too terrified to laugh. Keith Fullerton Whitman wants to tear down the curtain and teach your the inner workings of his synth patches, but Vorndran wants to maim.

“Bound and Folded” is one of the more nihilistic pieces here, eschewing the forward pummel of noise for vacant spaces and negligence. With his tones and processed apparently on shuffle, random jabs of static and tones ambush a desolate drone. Having never seen Throbbing Gristle live, I’m praying this is the closest I’ll ever get to experiencing their caustic collapse in-person. “Light at the End of the Tunnel” closes the suite without providing the courtesy of a resolution. Everything is as pitch black as before. Take it or leave it.

My god, I think I’m in love.

Rubber City Noise

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