The freely downloadable music (and occasional video) at the netlabel Noisejihad (noisejihad.dk/netlabel) always sounded like a soundtrack for endtimes. So, it was no shocker that Noisejihad eventually faded away. Let’s face facts — netlabels close down as often as they open for business; every time I update my list of netlabel websites (bookmarked publicly in disquiet.com‘s Elsewhere section), it seems like a handful have gone dead or on hiatus. And Noisejihad, as its name suggests, was from its first release (May 2005) to what appeared to be its last (late 2006) a locus for some of the darkest, most desperate extremes of metal: raw industrial sound that inherently evoked the eschatological.
What a surprise, then, to find that Noisejihad has been resurrected, with not one but two releases, the most recent of which, Noisejihad Does Rumstativ, is five recordings of live performances from a noise festival held earlier this year. Now, this is noise music, which is to say it’s long stretches of the sort of sound that many people ignore, or are irritated by, in their day-to-day lives — sonic abrasives that experimental musicians turn up (or on their heads) with an ear for exotic timbres, Zen-like revelation or a visceral, cacophonous effect.
The five tracks on Noisejihad Does Rumstativ aren’t indistinguishable drones, not by any stretch. You can discern each piece’s individuality by paying attention to the singular sounds it explores, like the 1950s sci-fi score that is Pol Mod Pol vs SkamstÃ¸tten‘s nearly 17-minute track, which opens the set (MP3) — or by extreme transitions, like how Dennis H’s entry moves during the course of 20-plus minutes from a quiet that will have you checking your volume setting, to a noise so thunderous you’ll soon lower it, to a welcome fadeout of jangly electric guitar (MP3). Katotja‘s is distinguished by vocals (both punk ranting and vocoded instructions, the latter another sci-fi moment), followed by skwonky horn noises (MP3).
The release’s highlights come from Leonid Kukik and from Svenning Og Fuglekongen. Kukik’s is a half hour of field recordings that are initially layered delicately and that slowly come to reveal unexpected dimensions; what begins as a sonic equivalent of a close-up eventually pulls back, courtesy of some echo, and it builds to a mild clatter before exploding at the very end (MP3). At just under 50 minutes, the entry by Svenning Og Fuglekongen is the set’s prettiest and longest piece, opening with gently pulsing minimalist touches before it appears to move through a sequence of intimate cavernous spaces (MP3).
As is often the case with Noisejihad, this release represents but a portion of the event it documents. Also performing at the festival were Double Space, Periskop, Interzone and Ultimate Combat Noise. There’s a seven-minute UCN video posted along with the MP3s. Welcome back, Noisejihad.