As I followed many of these labels I would often take a chance on some of these new offerings that were perhaps outside my musical vocabulary. One of those releases I recall quite well was Soft Punk by John Wiese on Troubleman Unlimited (a label I knew for releasing albums from emo mainstays Rye Coalition to mathy hardcore by Hal Al Shedad). It was very foreign to me and most likely irritating upon first listen, but I returned to it years later and now have a great affection for the album (easily in my top 5 noise records). Since rediscovering that album I’ve been a follower of John Wiese’s. That said, his noisecore project Sissy Spacek is one that I have less familiarity with. Not that is dislike the work, but sometimes you get so overloaded with music to listen to that bands on your “list” (yes, don’t we all have lists) fall by the wayside.
Recently, Wiese contacted me wanting to hook up a trade for a Cheek Biting/Haters split tape I released. Of course I was game. I requested a more recent release by Sissy Spacek, because the only release I owned of theirs was Scissors which was released early 2000’s. He obliged and days later I had a package containing Sissy Spacek’s Blear C30 on Tape Room Recordings (I’m assuming Wiese’s own imprint since they predominantly release Sissy Spacek recordings) and a bunch of postcards. The postcards were of the promotional variety, but still a neat bonus to receive.
The tape opens with “Things Take Time” and right out the gate we are greeted to a mass of blown out instrumentation. It’s a cacophonous mess of noisecore goodness. There’s really no need to dissect what’s being played or what instruments are used. All you need to know is that it’s a big garbled mess and I mean that in the best possible way.
Next up we have “Gang Reduction”. A departure from the opening blur-core chaos, this track features lots of junk metal clang, bang and destruction. I also hear the sounds of shattering glass and other debris crashing in a seemingly unending downpour. Truth be told, I love shit like this. I once recorded 20 minutes of crushing glass inside of a metal ammo container and It was probably one of my favorite things I’ve ever recorded. This is right up my alley.
“Up a Tree” offers a more subtle take on the previous track. There’s lots of minimal rumbles, digital artifacts and some weird random sounds. I notice some manipulated junk metal rumbles, along with elongated animal sounding growls. My mind conjures images of an enormous steampunk robot moving and barreling forward. I hear the sounds of shifting metal, a reverberating hull, grinding gears….all moving at a glacial pace. Of course, I just watched Ninja Batman last night which takes place in feudal Japan and features a bunch of castles transforming into gigantic hulking robots, so that could be influencing my take on these sounds.
On to side B…
The opening track “Garbage Matte” sounds like a continuation of the final track on side A, which is great because I’m loving this stuff. Footsteps, scraping metal, with some ambient dread in the background. It could very well be field recordings of an active construction site. I guess this could be categorized as musique concrète, but I’m terrible with labeling sounds. Supposedly there is a second track on this side called “Tear Go By”, but I hardly noticed it. That’s not a criticism. I guess the first track segued so well into the next (being a similar sounding) that I didn’t recognize it as another track. That said, I really enjoyed the sounds so I’m not disappointed in the slightest that there isn’t a clear line of demarcation between the pieces.
I completely loved this tape through and through. I haven’t heard enough of Sissy Spacek’s back catalog to comment if this is what they typically sound like. I was half expecting this to be wall to wall blur-core, which I would’ve been fine with, but I also appreciate having my expectations dashed. That said I expect to be investigating more of their back catalog post haste.
Nice review! Through the 80s and 90s I was mostly into punk, post-punk, industrial, experimental. Noise, at that time, for me at least, meant the Japanese artists like Merzbow, Hanatarash, Incapacitants, etc., which I could appreciate but wasn't really into. It took awhile for me to get around to exploring "noise" in a more serious way. Things got interesting for me in terms of noise, in the early 2000s. Started finding bands I really liked (Nautical Almanac, Wolf Eyes, Smegma to name a few) and hanging out with a younger generation of "noise kids" (as I affectionately called them) here in Toronto. Also started playing in Gastric Female Reflex and doing some solo shows and releases that were very "noise-influenced" (M.Stactor, Th W rbl r). Sissy Spacek was one of those names I heard mentioned fairly often but never checked out. Your description of this particular release sounds pretty darned interesting so I will definitely have a listen! Thanks!
It was also the early 2000's for me that I started discovering a lot of bands that kind of bridged the gap between punk and noise. Bands like Lightning Bolt and Melt Banana we're certainly gateway bands. Wolf Eyes was an eye-opening discovery and also released a record on Troubleman Unlimited (the label I discovered John Wiese). Wolf Eyes also has the distinction of being the first noise act I saw live; opening for Sonic Youth. Sounds like we similar stories.
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