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Peter J. Woods – Songs for Nothing

Peter J. Woods – Songs for Nothing

Written by: Sage
Artist: Peter J. Woods (USA)
Title: Songs for Nothing
Label: After Music Recordings (USA)
Cat. #: N/A
Format: 12″ LP

Genre: Noise / Experimental / Power Electronics

Side A
01) The Notion of Progress Accepted as Myth
02) Miles Traveled / Earth Beneath

Side B
01) Collapse at a Distance
02) Once Removed and Never the Same

Peter J. Woods may still be an unfamiliar name to much of the world of noise / power electronics, but to the American scene, he has slowly been becoming somewhat of a legend over the years.  As the webzine “Splice Today” bluntly put it, “Peter J. Woods is the Henry Rollins of Noise.”  While many may see that as a bit of an overstatement, his importance to the current Milwaukee noise scene cannot be denied, and may be every bit as important as the impact that the owner behind the label that “Songs for Nothing” was released on in Darren Brown (Boy Dirt Car) had on Chicago and surrounding areas such as Milwaukee.  It feels like less than a year ago that Woods got his first professional chance at a release with “Fairweather Mask” on the now sadly defunct Autumn Wind Productions.  Of course, this CD came out in 2009 and, since then, Woods has been leading a relatively quiet career being featured on a number of tapes and CD-R’s from the likes of Fust Cunt, Phage Tapes, and his own label FTAM.  In that times he has also started a new straight-edge power electronics outfit with Jay Linski, otherwise known as Blessed Sacrifist.  However, “Songs for Nothing” finds Woods about to depart on a new era in his solo project with this being his first vinyl full-length, and first record in general as a solo artist outside of the 7″ “Failure from Both Ends” on Curious Lacunae.

The title of the album, “Songs for Nothing” is perhaps misleading as the LP certainly has a theme behind it.  Woods developed the first track, and eventually the LP as a whole around the idea of watching a city, on video, collapse on the horizon as a metaphor for the futility of political action (i.e., how in the modern era, creating actual change is nearly an impossibility because of nearly innumerable reasons, that in the end the only thing that will create drastic change is complete collapse itself).  Of course the album itself, especially the opening track, is full of descriptive quality and metaphor itself in regards to this theme.  From the opening inaudible static-laden, desperate radio transmission to the creaking electronics that represent the unnerving calm prior to the unleashing of horns and more radio static, this time with a level of harshness.  After those trumpets sound, comes the ticking clock, symbolizing the fact that time is running out.  The entire side of this LP is a proverbial build-up, specifically noted by the buzzing tension created by strings as found on “Miles Traveled / Earth Beneath”.  Side B features “Collapse at a Distance” which is noisey and features an array of experimental sound.  The long track of experimental workings can be seen as being reminiscent of the fact that something is very wrong before an unnerving noise quickly upends the sound and heralds a coming harsh storm of electronics that no doubt symbolizes the quick undoing of the city in question.  In this few seconds of harshness one can’t help but imagine the beautiful Milwaukee Art Museum and U.S. Bank Center crumble and collapse into the dark waters of Lake Michigan — buildings like Milwaukee City Hall and Miller Park, reduced to rubble and ruin.

It’s not the noise that makes this release interesting or special, but the subtlety in texture and meaning.  If you’re looking for a foray into the world of harshness, you won’t really find that here.  Instead, what is presented is a soundtrack to the complete and utter end of a city, in the time before, the extremely short time during, and the fractured chaos after.  Woods has described his realistic vision of “change” through the sound created on “Songs for Nothing” and minimal, desperate P.E.-styled screaming and sound exploration.  “Songs for Nothing” has been released in an extremely limited quantity of 300 copies on bright red vinyl and comes with a printed insert containing album information and release information in regards to After Music Recordings, as well as a screen-printed black-on-white 12″ folder jacket.

Rating: 4.5/5