13hz, known otherwise in a clever play on words as “Thirteen Hurts”, is the virtually unknown solo alias of Richard Adams from Pleasant View, Colorado — an artist whom, despite spending much of his time as a musician firmly locked in the rock and progressive genres earlier in his career, is knee-deep in the extremely volatile side of experimental noise, but whom has two separate approaches towards reaching fruition in these creations. Which face you’ll see from the project in this respect depends largely on the name used from the onset as 13Hz relates specifically to Adams’ usage of synth-based drone and glitch whereas Thirteen Hurts, in an obvious relation to the more painful aspect of the name, focuses on relatively harsh noise created via circuit-bent / modified guitar pedals and hand-made sound sources. His roots are deceivingly old, given the small amount of output on traditional formats that the project has seen since the first occurrence of sound manipulation and experimentation three and a half decades ago in 1977. In fact, despite the 2011 Norcal Noisefest compilation, the project’s footprint has been clearly eroded by obscurity with the only concrete grasp on existence being two films: one for the indie film “Medium Gray” and the other for, in what is another nail in the coffin towards proving that truth is stranger than fiction, a documentary on the Lamborghini Miura.
Much of the information above may set the average noise fan off-kilter as, after all, Lamborghinis and progressive rock seem to have little to do with the sternly abrasive world that is noise. It’s thus a strange but wonderful fact to admit that a heavy side of Adams’ 80′s listening experience included none other than Boyd Rice himself, a character whose name is synonymous with odd obsessions, one of which led to his ownership over the infamous tiki bar “Tiki Boyd’s” which resides in, you guessed it, Denver, CO. Of course, even if composing a soundtrack for a documentary amounted to an interest in that subject, his interests still wouldn’t be nearly as quirky as Rice’s and his music is a shot that lands a fair distance further into left-field. The projects that accompanied this time period in his life that were more likely to influence the works here included Nurse with Wound and Throbbing Gristle.
That said, “Threshold” wastes no time taking you beyond your own, kicking off immediately with a blast of noise wall in “Revelation” that feeds back indiscernible guitar fuzz amongst a host of different levels volume and tone. It literally kicks the door in with the very first second, and if nothing else, it certainly demands your attention with its violent rush of epic, apocalyptic sound. Past this moment, it chills out a bit though the album remains largely abrasive. “Synapse” begins with a modestly rhythmic structure that quickly descends into a throbbing chaos, a sound not unlike the imagery of a normally functioning synapse that suddenly and desperately begins firing electrical stimulation into a neuron to bring about the sensation of excessive pain. “Apnea” features a wide array of extremely high-end squealing and nearly ethereal low-end fuzz fluctuation that come in halfway through the track, with the opening simply being a heartbeat that picks up prior to the eventual bombardment of noise. The aural metaphor should be obvious given what an apnea is defined as, but these opening three tracks hint at something intensely unique about Adams’ song-writing process. One does not simply compose a track like this then name it after realizing what its sound mirrors. These tracks were created with a specific purpose at attaining the spirit of the theme that they’re named after, a feat which exists on an entirely different level or style of composition than the traditional route.
The most impressive track on the album is the longest in “Percolate”, a composition which slowly spreads, almost painfully, and progresses into new forms as the track progresses. It eventually takes on a full experimental body of sound that is textured by buzz-saw abrasiveness, somehow ugly shifting harmonics and a low-end sound that has, by now, become textbook throughout the entire release. In the end, “Threshold” has a very specific, discernible direction, albeit built in chapters, and as such can’t be classified as a work that is so abstract that it can’t be understood. In fact, that’s part of what makes it unique. That said, Adams seems to be an artist whom might very well fit in right alongside of Fabrica-style artists like Orbless that, while standing full-on in the world of experimental music, have a definitive scientific approach to the creation of their art.
07) Transmission / Reception