Without wanting to give too much away viz a vis location, I live in a former council flat in South London. The bloke opposite me across the hallway fancies himself as a bit tasty ‘on the decks’ and is a slavish devotee of grime or whatever it is the not-as-young-as-they’d-like-to-be listen to. And he wants the whole floor -and the ones above and below – to know about it. In the past I’ve tried smoking him out with the usual suspects – Pantera, Hatebreed, Slayer, Rick Astley – pounding away at high volume but it doesn’t have any effect. He just keeps coming back with his ‘beats’, pounding away as if my high-powered aural battery has had no effect on him.
Until now, that is. For the past few days I’ve been listening to the new EP (although, with a playing time that eclipses Reign in Blood you’d be quite within your rights to call it an album) by New York noise sculptors Gridfailure. At high volume. Very high volume. And the noise from over the way has mysteriously ceased. I’d like to say I take no pleasure in this apparent victory. But I do. And it’s all thanks to this record.
Gridfailure’s Powerdementia isn’t a one of a kind release – other powerviolence albums are available – but it is a fucking good one. It’s not easy listening, of course. In fact it’s not uneasy listening either, such are the extremes of stress to which you’ll be placed under as a listener should you elect to take the plunge and switch the damned thing on. The first three tracks sound like what I’d imagine it sounds like just outside the gates of hell – industrial grinding noises on a grand scale, disembodied howls, the sound of knives being sharpened – and it goes downhill from there basically.
The project’s moving force, David Brenner, manipulates the soundscapes with the practised moves of a true aural terror suspect; no source is left unmolested, no apparently improbably stone left unturned in the attempt to ratchet up the discomfort for the listener. Dystopia is too weak a word for it. In his meisterwerk Paradise Lost John Milton coined the phrase ‘terrible beauty’, and that’s far more apt a descriptor for the awe-inspiring sturm und drang going on here.
Of course this won’t be for everyone. In fact it’ll be for hardly anyone. But the sheer allure of listening to a disturbing mind laid bare – for that surely, is what the majority of these sounds represent – is always going to snare hardy souls looking for dissonant thrills. If that sounds like you, then the sooner you get hold of Powerdementia the better.
Gridfailure’s Powerdementia is out now.