Thursday, January 6, 2011


So impossible to find that it's hard to believe it even exists, "Horror of Birth" is one of Kevin Drumm's most accomplished compositions, an excellent encapsulation of all the things he does so well filtered into a 26 minute excursion into the darkest, most tar-drenched realms of sound exploration. Released around the same time as "Sheer Hellish Miasma," "Horror of Birth" trades on the tyrannical noise maelstroms Drumm was working in at the time, bearing much in common with "Sheer..." as well as other time-specific works like "Land of Lurches" and "Impish Tyrant." But while those releases went straight for the throat and immediately into the red, "Horror of Birth" belches forth a far more menacing and potent brand of filth, a sub-bass deep listening bit of musical terrorism, a throbbing flume of hateful, boiling ambience that references his massive "Organ" piece as much as it foreshadows the work he'd do on "Lights Out." Clearly, this is an important piece in the discography.
Comprised of four movements spread across two sides of tape, "Horror..." is a growing, evolving piece that both mesmerizes and jars the listener. The deep, pulsing bass tones are incredibly relaxing but incredibly distressing at the same time, creating a sense of everything about to go wrong all at once with little ability to prevent it. Side A is all tension and build up, with Drumm building a towering wall of steady grind, bubbling like some cauldron of squalid black goo, the liquefied entrails of so much cruelty and abhorrence. Things grow steadily more intense throughout the side's thirteen infinite minutes, as Drumm layers in wheezing, escalating whines and thin strains of pained scorching feedback resulting in a conglomerated mess of dilapidation and tonal disgust. There's no release to this, only the increasing sense of dread and nausea as the track oozes towards its abrupt conclusion. Afterwards you feel like you've been washed in blood and mud, and a lot of it's never going to come out.
As disorienting as the first side is, it's nothing compared to the difficulties present on Side B. Across the space of three tracks Drumm wrangles all your guts out of your body via some fucked up voodoo transposition. Things start off lullingly enough, with two minutes of lovely droning bass tone reminiscent of Radigue at her most introspective, but that's the only reprieve you get. After the calming false start the terror erupts, with dual stereo explosions of chittering cut up static fading in and out of either side, increasing in frequency and volume while the steady windy whine of feedback drifts in the background. The tones become almost psychically caustic, and again i'm impressed by Drumm's manipulation of recorded sound to the point where it causes distinct physical unease. This shit is hard to listen to in more ways than one. When everything finally explodes into powerhouse noise destruction on the final bit, it's entirely welcome after enduring the sonic punishments that came before. Drumm lets it spill out in tidal majesty, wave after wave of thick, blackened vomit pouring forth into your ears until just as quickly and violently it dries up and stops. The noise has a strange soothing quality that i've discussed before in my reviews of KD's stuff-it's harsh but not painful. The nausea tones are what's most difficult to take throughout his material. If the overall goal of this recording was to illustrate the horrors awaiting an unborn person in modern life through sound then it's an unequivocal success; if it was just to fuck some shit up then it's a score there, too.
It's sad this tape didn't see a wider release, and sadder still that someone hasn't reissued it. It's a great example of Kevin Drumm rocking out noise the way only he can and another amazing demonstartion of the awesome power of pure, crushing sound. Highest possible recommendation.

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