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Relay for Death – Birth of an Older, much more Ugly Christ

Relay For Death are an experimental/noise duo comprised of twin sisters from the American south. Using live acoustic elements, electronics, tape noise, and whatever else possible the group does a fairly exemplary job of documenting the failure of the human race to defeat its fate of mortality and decomposition. The sounds are utterly bleak in a manner that is both unsympathetic but at the same time completely refreshing and life-affirming in all aspects. Most of the sounds on this recording seem to come from real life, squealing un-oiled wheels, what sounds like a waterfall, buzzing wire, wind and rain, all giving way to a maniacally loud rush of harsh electronics that mixes organically with all of the rest of the sounds. This record apparently was created on analog masters in real time, so there is a somewhat improvisational element that exists among the very composed and cohesive presentation of Relay For Death as a sonic entity on this release. There is a flowing dynamic between the two artists that makes for one unified and highly controlled voice, bringing together disparate sonic elements into a seething concoction of subtle fury.

One of the greatest qualities of a record is the ability to provide a different experience upon repeated listens. This one certainly yields great results from repeated listens, almost daring the listener to pay close attention and stare into the abyss to understand what is happening. The tension towards the middle of Side A becomes almost unbearable before being buried under tape hiss and distant distorted melodies. At one point I think I hear a sample of a cat’s meow, but maybe it is just my imagination playing tricks on me. No, there it is again!

Side B takes the journey from a disturbed internal struggle into a foreign, perhaps even cosmic, journey. The harshest of harsh noise is left behind on the A-side and instead the B-side focuses on a slow-burn rumble that certainly will appeal to proponents of the nascent and controversial Harsh Noise Wall genre. Strongly developed and muscular organic textures of cassette noise flow together in a way that sounds both natural and beautifully composed at the same time. Sounds that resemble avalanches, explosions from far away melt together in a soothing pastiche of destruction on the B-side. Could listen to this one on repeat for hours, just beautiful textures.

Eventually the sounds coalesce into one that is a bit louder, leading the sounds into a frenzied coalition with a defining and mind-melting repeating synth stab that closes out the explosive and no-holds-barred finale. Tense and bare-knuckle noise experience that grows on you with time… definitely an important and powerful record in terms of textural noise. Powerful and cosmic journeys into realms unseen through pure sonics, a beautiful and highly considered record that concludes in a ridiculously gorgeous finale of Wagnerian proportions. You will spend a lot of time with this LP if it comes into your possession.

Rating: 5/5

Written by Joseph Gates
Label: Hanson Records (US) / Format: Vinyl LP / Cat. # HN 203

1. Untitled
2. Untitled