Bring the noise! When Public Enemy spat out these words 15 years ago, they probably weren’t thinking about noise like this ~ the fuzzed-out sound of power tools cranking, circuit boards overloading, buildings aflame. Fistula is as violent as its title, which implies “fist” but actually refers to “a passageway between two organs or vessels that normally do not connect” – in this case, the artists and their sounds, or the gorgeous and the deformed. Fistula isn’t noise for noise’s sake; it’s savagery on a leash. The key to the album’s allure is the balance between the virus and the antidote, the distortion and the tune.
2012 has been a great year for both artists, who have each been reviewed here: Ryan Huber as Sujo, Voprat and Olekranon, and Jay Bodley as Sun Hammer both solo and with Radere. The new collaboration aids both parties, as it connects the vessels without injury. The visceral impact is increased by the volume of white noise, which in some tracks threatens to pop the woofers. This go-for-broke attitude dominates the first half of the album, which makes the subtlety of the second a revelatory surprise.
“OSD” is abrasive from the start and concludes with electronic blasts reminiscent of thunder. As harsh as this may sound, it’s just an opener – one that in retrospect may seem like a gentle tap. The track builds like a washing machine without a muffler until the sonic field is nearly filled. That trick – the Holy Grail of drone – must wait until the album’s midpoint, when the sense of cold isolation has penetrated muscle and bone. “Safian” provides the lead-in, as ghostly choirs give way to drenched organ tones and sinister bass. A marrow-chilling rain bleeds down the walls of “Nataf”, laying the foundation for sheets of sleet-like feedback. Now the kid gloves are off. The title track wanders cautiously into the red, passing through yellow, orange and burnt umber on the way. When the conflagration arrives, the flickers turn to flames, the sparks to a blaze.
The sound levels start to recede at the end of “Hari”, like dying embers. In their closing tracks, Sujo and Sun Hammer concentrate on mood, providing an aural aftermath. “Qila” captures the steps of a wounded survivor as he pokes through the rubble; “Wolfshead” begins as a vacuum and ends as a backdraft. A disaster site can be dangerous to those who draw too close before the “all clear” is given. Likewise, Sujo and Sun Hammer are not concerned with aural or artistic safety; when the sound levels drop, listeners are advised to approach the speakers at their own risk.
Now that the passageway has been made, the blood is flowing between vessels. The organs are doing their work; no further surgery is required. Let’s keep this collaboration going. (Richard Allen)