COMPACTOR - TENSION CRUCIBLE
This review was commissioned through Ko-fi. However, it bears no weight on the score or decision. All reviews are written from an unbiased standpoint.
Industrial, noise, power electronics, and other related genres are the primary output of New York-based musician COMPACTOR. His latest album “TENSION CRUCIBLE” released in October of 2021 as a flip-side, a reverse to their previous album “HOLD MUSIC”. Frustration and rage are shown through symbolic imagery, blatant titles meant to reflect the subject matter, and sound sources matching the description such as “delivery vehicles and checkout machines, wifi signals, percussion played by both police and black teenagers.” While the social and political messages are loud and clear, that does not reflect my opinion on the music. As what I’m given on “TENSION CRUCIBLE” can be grand, but most times I find that the structure of these collective noise pieces can be bland and boring.
“TENSION CRUCIBLE” starts off rather weak with ‘LOSING GROUND’. It’s a rhythmic noise track whose sound is comparable to someone attempting to start a chugging car that simply won’t go forward. While that might sound like the negative, it isn’t. Rather it’s a wonderful baseline to begin the track. However, the failure is that this rhythmic noise section is present throughout most of the track and hardly ever deviates itself. Sure, there are experimental samples in the song that you would expect on a release like this, but it doesn’t change the fact that for it’s three-minute and twenty-seven second run it is repetitive.
A combination of industrial and glitch in the guise of drum’n’bass makes up the beginning of ‘DIRECTION CONFUSION’. It’s as if a DJs CD started skipping, and rather than buff it out, they went along with the sound and made a track surrounding it. It’s a very interesting and chaotic track that had me guessing what was going to happen next at every interval. This is dance music for a broken robot. After that we get into ‘VIRAL IGNORANCE’, which has a dedication to sleazy industrial and metallic drums. With the sounds of a factory in mind including what sounds like drill presses, ‘VIRAL IGNORANCE’ is a collection of sounds that would’ve made the pioneers of industrial music proud. Anti-music in a sense, yet forms a beat and rhythm nonetheless.
‘ESSENTIAL NOT VALUED’ falls into the category of noise music that I’m not fond of. What I can say about it is that it’s a collection of overpowered static nonsense from start to finish that I don’t find artistic in the very least. I’ve been approached with this type of sound multiple times in the past by varied noise artist and always find it to be rather amateur.
If you were to take a Harley Davidson, record the sound of its exhaust pipe as it sputtered onward on the highway, and then decreased the volume to a bare minimum, I think it would sound similar to ‘MINIMUM RAGE’. It’s a minimal noise song but it’s rather boring. There are not too many other samples aside from that of a change jar and what sounds like raw, black metal guitars. But those sounds are random and interspersed and don’t necessarily have much input on the track otherwise. ‘THROES OF UPHEAVAL’ is an ambient-noise track that’s reflective upon a dialing a radio to a certain station, yet you can’t find the sweet spot, so it keeps kicking from noise to noise to noise. At least at first. Later on it becomes a disheveled collective of odd noise that never fits a mold. If that was the point, then it was well done. But this is something that I would rather not sink my ears into again.
I found that the first two minutes of ‘DÉJÀ VU AD NAUSEAM’ was rather bland as it was very repetitious, but following that mark we get a bit of a breakdown before venturing off into further experimental, rhythmic noise territory. I wasn’t fond of the ending of the track that much either, as the scratchiness of the noise wasn’t pleasant to say the very least. To keep this next complaint short, I’ll liken ‘POISON STREAMING’ to ‘MINIMUM RAGE’. Like before, it’s a fairly repetitive ambient noise track that doesn’t have a whole lot of meat on its bones. The six-minute and thirteen-second runtime is not necessary and leads to a bit of a bore. This somewhat repeats with ‘INTENTIONAL ACCIDENTS’, in which the sounds of gunshots are the main samples. But they aren’t used in a rhythmic fashion; it just sounds like I’m at a shooting gallery.
‘WAR OF 1312’ is a mixture of martial industrial thanks to the military-like marching sounds being utilized and further noise. The bleak landscape is made all the more horrifying as glass breaking, as if storefronts are being shattered, and sirens reign in. It paints a rather disturbing sight and was well done. The high-pitched synths on ‘PRESSURE CONTROL’ made it an immediate no-go for myself. While I like noise, anything that attempts to utilized that kind of sound is thrown into the trash for me. My ears can’t stand it and it’s not something I would want to listen to again.
COMPACTOR can have a way with noise and experimental music that gets me to want to listen to it such as on ‘DIRECTION CONFUSION’, ‘VIRAL IGNORANCE’, and ‘WAR OF 1312’. However, those three tracks alone can’t hold up the bulk of what I didn’t like on “TENSION CRUCIBLE”. There are too many songs that are either dull, lifeless or contain sounds that I just don’t like to deal with. When it hits, it hits, but those moments are so rare that it’s hard for me to recommend this album to anyone. The social and political statements are well made, but the music and noise surrounding it is not. Four out of ten.Apr 12 2022
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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