Excellent Rusalka release from a few years back now on the fantastic Skeleton Dust label. Rusalka is a harsh noise artist from Canada named Kate Rissiek who has become well-known in the world of harsh noise music for her blistering and sonically oppressive live performances. This cassette tape gives a nice peek into Rusalka’s impressive range as a noise artist… although closely associated with the Harsh Noise Wall scene due to collaborations and associations with Taskmaster and The Rita, Kate’s harsh noise sound includes a fair amount of full on blistering, screeching harshness that is certainly far removed from the expectations of the Harsh Noise Wall sound. It is sad that people have limited the genre of Harsh Noise Wall with their expectations and rules of what it should be, because ultimately it is a boundless, formless exploration of sound and texture that goes outside the realm of structure completely. The best within the genre exemplify the ecstatic in such a manner that the sound becomes all enveloping, a joyful and destructive collision with expectation. It should not be something that is rote or boring, and the lack of imagination with some artists has led some to judge the genre based only on characteristics uniting the lowest possible common denominators.
Rusalka’s sound, on the other hand, is both “monolithic” (like a large and imposing singular natural rock formation or pillar) and “harsh” (containing sounds that will disrupt concentration and intentionally stimulate erratic moods). The material holds to a particular crunching structure that has a consistency and drive orienting toward a meditative direction, interrupted at times by sounds that are often akin to a landing airplane or a passing train. At times, the texture of the sounds takes on a gringing “Industrial” sort of quality similar to te screeching noise of Macronympha’s “Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania” LP (high praise indeed). An interesting factor with the harsh noise wall genre is that it is something that has developed largely in the age of the internet, and therefor the formation and intention of it has largely grown and at times devolved due to the misunderstandings and foibles that are the result of the illustrious mode of modern communication that involves sitting behind a computer screen and typing out your thoughts for all to see, no matter what level of consideration one has put into the those thoughts. It is somewhat of a “mutilated octopus” (to borrow a phrase from Charles Fort) at this point, but still one that has a beauty and often a truth about it.
Rusalka and several other noise artists (including her partner Taskmaster) toured the United States around the time of this release, and I would say that tis cassette is a pretty good example of her sets from that era. In fact, if you go to Youtube and look up Rusalka 2010 you should find a few sets of Kate Rissiek just totally throwing hell upon the audience, and if you like what you hear you should try to track down this cassette tape. She has had quite a few CDr releases that are kind of hard to find at this point, so this release on Skeleton Dust might be your best bet until her newest material (of which there is apparently an upcoming full-length of some sort, really looking forward to that…). This is some of the best harsh noise out of the North American continent, and if you are interested in top-notch harsh noise solo artists and have not heard this cassette, it should be a mandatory listen! I love Rusalka, and this is probably one of the best examples of her level of full-on sonic destruction.
1. Side A
2. Side B