The Black Scorpio Underground is the California based noise project of Joe Truck. Truck was a key player in the New York Goth scene of the nineteen-eighties with the band Scarecrow. He has been involved in many other bands over the years including Skull and Bullets, Aggrastat, Brain Eaters, Chop Shop, Hellvis, Confederacy of Horsepower, Mechanique and Heatgun. He has been steadily releasing material since 2006, there have also been split releases with many projects including Aural Resuscitation, Haters and Werewolf Jerusalem. Now his primary focus is the No Wave/ Experimental project called Puss. Joe Truck also runs several record labels including Black Scorpio Records who released the recent Dark New York (Gotham City’s Post Punk, Goth, & Deathrock Bands 1983-1988) Vol. 1 compilation which compiled key Goth bands in New York City in the nineteen-eighties.
The split 12” with Werewolf Jerusalem opens with Black Scorpio Underground’s Alone in the Orchard of Souls. This simmers away in an ominous manner as conversations and speeches sound off in the distance, it abuses silence in the same way as Marco Corbelli’s Atrax Morgue could. Slight blasts of fuzz and further noises are employed to build things considerably only for them to repeatedly fall in and out of ambient murk again. Each time the track rises again it is with an increased sense of intensity and urgency. Alone in the Orchard of Souls is akin to being upset and lost in hell of ones own making.
Werewolf Jerusalem is one of many musical projects of Richard Ramirez, WJ has been prolifically releasing material since two-thousand-and-one. The lengthy track, Further Suspects in Rail Killings seethes nastily in parallel to the Black Scorpio Underground track on the other side. Resonating loops of noise phase through each other continuously as the humming of background drones are ever present. Metallic scraping is paired with explosions of crackling electricity to build and shift Further Suspects…. into a lengthy phase of noise.
The record is presented well and pressed on beautiful marbled vinyl. I rate both tracks well here; they are parallel in the levels of intensity they reach. The Black Scorpio Underground track seems shorter and I feel this is the slightly stronger track in that it is more engaging, and holds your attention better. The Werewolf Jerusalem track is also strong but could have been shortened in length or highlighted with more defined shifts in sound. This serves as another strong release from Husk Records.
The dirtier ominous low levels of noise are revisited by The Black Scorpio Underground on Rage Traitor, their track on the split 7” with The Vomit Arsonist. This forges ahead into a darker ambient territory than the split with Werewolf Jerusalem. It builds up to an explosive climax which then falls and drops Rage Traitor into further hellish nightmares.
Andrew Grant’s The Vomit Arsonist project has been releasing material since two-thousand-and-four. Here he operates from quiet low levels with All Is Lost, the omnipresent drones are punctuated by whispered vocals, Andrew Grant also manages to take things to subterranean levels without even having to raise his voice or the noise levels.
This is an impressive 7” as both artists deliver differing nightmares of sound and achieve excellent results. I hadn’t heard anything like what The Vomit Arsonist did in All Is Lost and I am keen to hear more. So far The Black Scorpio Underground has shown an impressive ability to deliver good results while being totally lost in his own personal hell.
Having reviewed RxAxPxE for Heathen Harvest twice before, the first release was a Gnawed + RxAxPxE – Split, the other was the solo effort titled Of My Own Free Will, both were deservedly highly rated. So the prospect of reviewing a split release with The Black Scorpio Underground piqued my interest. On The Relic by The Black Scorpio Underground is feedback-laden noise with overlaid incoherent screams. This is an effective change of pace for BSU as they delve into a livelier edition of hell, the fires have been stoked accordingly.
RxAxPxE manufactures a tribal rhythm while segueing into static distortion as the chants fade uninterrupted into the background. His Return uses static as a rhythmic assault weapon and frequently obliterates itself with feeback as if it has half pulled the plug on itself. This is also a livelier RxAxPxE and it suits them, on albums they often build up to things if they are going to be anything near as assaultive as this. When RxAxPxE gets nasty quickly, it does them credit.
Both tracks represent each project in a more aggressive form, this single is a surprise and it gave something different from both acts. Excellent presentation through cover artwork and the vinyl is pressed in a marbled format, topped off with particularly high quality tracks by both artists.
Sadly Joe Truck decided to end The Black Scorpio Underground, he now concentrates on PUSS, with a four decade history in many underground bands I can see the desire to be band based. He also proves to be an impressive noisemaker who can work well in dark experimental ambient territory. All of the records presented here are good and The Black Scorpio Underground stands well against established projects like Werewolf Jerusalem who are at the top of their game. I would like to see how the project fares on a whole album, can it feed off itself as well as it sparks off other projects? I’d also like to have seen where it gets to after a decade or two in existence as so far it seems to have achieved a lot. Like the occult vibes in some of these records, I hope my review revives The Black Scorpio Underground.
The Black Scorpio Underground / Werewolf Jerusalem
A – The Black Scorpio Underground – Alone In The Orchard Of Souls
B – Werewolf Jerusalem – Further Suspects In Rail Killings
The Black Scorpio Underground / RxAxPxE
A – The Black Scorpio Underground – On The Relic
B – RxAxPxE – His Return
The Black Scorpio Underground /Vomit Arsonist
A – The Black Scorpio Undergxround – Rage Traitor
B – The Vomit Arsonist – All Is Lost
Noise / Power Electronics