Ross Gray explores apocalyptic wastelands through noise, january 2013
Towards the end of first term, an interesting email arrived in our inbox from God records, a small “Austrian label for new and experimental music”, promoting a Boris Hegenbart release which includes collaborations with 19 artists, such as Oren Ambarchi and Fred Frith. When the promo arrived however, I found another release they had sent with it to be equally grabbing: Rdeča Raketa’s Wir Werden.
Rdeča Raketa’s music is somewhat difficult to describe at times, even within the context of noise. Not to say that this is absolutely groundbreaking material or anything, it just doesn’t fit neatly into any box I know of at the current moment. The band’s attempt: “Wir werden deals with the past repeating, movements and their absence in front of systems appearing to be crumbling, relationships between people and their inner fears”.
That certainly resonates strongly with this album. Both sides are unrelentingly bleak or haunting. The first side caught me off guard with flat vocals over soft electronic crackle – reminiscent of Alva Noto and Blixa Bargeld’s ANBB, loading me with expectations of glitch. These were promptly smashed. Futiristic, bomb-dropping synths were briefly explored before the noise started really building on itself and drowned out all but a glimmer. This technique of having the somewhat blistering, but often somehow ambient, noise with just distinguishable rhythms and notes occurs throughout the album, and is a surefire path to catharsis.
Two factors that sets Wir Werden apart relative to a lot of its peers (and I feel firmly places it within the European noise sound aesthetic) is its use of both silence and its ability to relent. Silence has been utilised very effectively by performers such as Runzelstirn & Gurgelstøck, but usually in a way that allows for greater audio shock when the noise returns. Wir Werden manages to pull its intensity down a notch at times, with piano echoing around in endless space, muted noise, distorted fragments of female singing all creating a broken ethereality. Somehow it makes it all the more terrifying.
The sheer amount of sonic textures explored within the 40 minutes is certainly not to be sniffed at. Rdeča Raketa appear comfortable in the impression they wish to portray; enough so they can snap from soundscape to soundscape very quickly, not allowing any one snapshot of the desolate world to become boring or repetitive, whilst maintaining a cold, crushing and dark atmosphere.
Certainly this is an album I would recommend to any followers of the more experimental or noisy end of music. As a first foray into this kind of thing it would likely be intense, but certainly no Lon Guy. A huge variety of instruments and techniques are successfully combined to produce a staggering myriad of timbres and layers within the sound. If all of their releases can produce as staggeringly pretentious of a review as this, I shall most assuredly be listening to the upcoming releases by GOD records.