Belgium-based noisemaker Raoul Puke (Be the Hammer) presents Carboniferous, a taut and moody mix that weaves together diverse styles into an immersive hour-long exploration. I’m going to try to squeeze in quite a few of these mixes before the end of the year so look out for those. (Joseph Sannicandro)
Please introduce yourself.
My name’s Raoul Puke. I’m a Belgium-based noisemaker, founder of noise/drone act Be the Hammer [B_T_H].
I’ve been involved with the underground music scene since 2003, writing reviews/interviews for fanzines, at first mostly about ‘deviant’ rock and metal.
Later on I dived into the industrial/noise/underground electronic music scene, and from 2007 to 2011, I wrote about acts from these genres for more established webzines such as Side-Line and Connexion Bizarre. I was already trying to make my own music at the time, fucking around with various software tools, but never achieving the results I had in mind.
The first time I actually shared some recordings online and did a (rather disastrous but fun) live performance was in 2012, as Dymarka, a collaboration with my buddy Sebestián Karkoszka (he was handling the electronics and I was doing the spoken word).
Then in 2014, I teamed up with Dominique Van Cappellen-Waldock for theremin-based noise/drone recording sessions; this is how we gave birth to the first incarnation of Be the Hammer and to our debut album, Tangled Mass, which came out in late 2015. More recently the project evolved into another form: I remain the sole constant member and surround myself with various artists depending on the sound I have in mind (my latest ‘partner in crime’ being Jean-Marc Nicoletti akaUnidentified Sonic Attack).
[B_T_H] is not limited to a genre, it could basically mutate into any form of music and/or noise if we feel like it, and that’s what I find exciting.
What’s the scene like where you live, or in your area more broadly? Anything special or artists you’d like to highlight?
My hometown of Mons is a rather quiet place and doesn’t have much of an underground scene anymore. Artists such as Kirdec or Imminent (members of the electronic band Axiome, releasing records on legendary label Ant-Zen since 1999) used to live here but moved a long time ago. Some other, bigger Belgian cities have a more exciting scene though. In Ghent you can find a few great ambient/drone/experimental artists such Empusae or BARST and great labels such as Consouling Sounds and Dauw. In Antwerp there are well established musicians from the same scene, such as Dirk Serries (Fear Falls Burning) and Kreng. From Brussels, I can name a few good acts from the noise/underground electronic music genres: TZii, Ripit, Orphan Swords, and a couple of exciting labels like Idiosyncratics or Silken Tofu. The great noise two-piece band Bruital Orgasme are based in Liège, and last but not least, the veteran old-school industrial band Militia are based in the small village of Rijkhoven.
Tell us a bit about the mix.
I tried my best to assemble a one hour collection of tracks that would be coherent as well as diverse, and would reflect my tastes and what I think is the most vital thing about music: tension. Whichever genre(s) you enjoy the most, whichever era(s) you prefer, music needs to generate this feeling of tension that keeps the listener hooked.
So of course I included quite a few ambient, drone, noise and power electronics tracks, but also some gems of free jazz, guitar-driven music, beat-driven electronic music, field recordings, and even tango. Some of the featured artists are well established, others are more obscure; I wanted the mix to be varied from that standpoint too.
What’s coming up on the horizon for you?
[B_T_H] recently recorded a more guitar-driven track with guitarist/sound-engineer Jean- Marc Nicoletti, and myself handling synths and vocals. It’s still noisy and full of abrasive drones, but it also contains riffs and some power electronics-like rhythmic patterns. It will be featured on a CD compilation curated by the label Alrealon Musique for the magazine Bad Alchemy. It will be titled Alrealon Musique Presents: Bad Alchemy, and the following acts will appear as well: Taisen/Pas Musique, K0Ks, Mark Harris & JOHN 3:16, TheUse, Fat Kneel, Murmurists, The Strange Walls, The Jazz Fakers, Black Saturn, Jan Swinburne, [ówt krì], Rapoon, Chester Hawkins, Your Grace Adrianna Natalie, Jeff Surak, Borne, Kate Carr. The compilation should be out in 2017.
In the meantime, we will keep working on new material for a second album, but I tend to work very slowly most of the time, so I can’t tell yet when this may come to fruition.
– Roly Porter | In Flight
Third Law | 2016 | Tri Angle
– Plaster | Cluster System
Mainframe | 2015 | Kvitnu
– Pan Daijing | Stilborn
Sex & Disease | 2015 | Noisekˆlln Tapes
– JOHN 3:16 | In the Blood of the Lamb
– Burning Tree | North Hex
North Hex | 2015 | Utech Records
– James Welburn | Shift
Hold | 2015 | Miasmah
– Land | Labyrinthitis
Anoxia | 2015 | Important Records
– Crowhurst | Ketosis
No Life To Live (2015 Remaster) | Self-released
– Raime | Dead Heat
Tooth | 2016 | Blackest Ever Black
– The Body | Wanderlings
No One Deserves Hapiness | 2016 | Thrill Jockey Records
– Radikal Satan | Gri-Gri
El Incendio Que Se LlevÛ La Ciudad | 2015 | Urquinaona Records
– Puce Mary | Masks Are Aids II
The Spiral | 2016 | Posh Isolation
– Yannick Dauby | Noophonie (excerpt)
Sarus Cranes Circling Above | 2004 | BOXmedia