DECAYCAST Reviews: V/A: NO WORKERS PARADISE 8 Cassette Boxset (Chthonic Streams, 2017)
With the rise of accessibility for artists and producers to create sound, music, art and the ability for those artists to contextualize, and re contextualize their work in a seemingly often dizzying whirlwind of labels, sub-labels, sub-labels of sub-labels, through, you guessed it, the INTERNET; questioning the role or necessity of a small independent record label in these weird, confusing post-post modern days of malleability of meaning, format and intention, seems like probably a good idea. How many of them are genuine, how many of them truly put the artist first, and in priority, how many of them believe and stand behind their “product”, behind both the “artist” and the “artwork”. Derek Rush‘s New York – based imprint, Chthonic Streams does just that, and they do it with style, focus, and intention, as exemplified by the labels’ most ambitious and potentially most conceptual release to date, at least in its packaging and form, is the “No Workers Paradise” boxset. You should keep reading, but what I also recommend is that you stop what you’re doing and instantly ORDER THE BOXSET HERE!
We are fans of boxsets, we are fans of conceptual art, and we are fans of toolboxes and ridiculously ambitious projects here at Decaycast, and Chthonic Streams exhaustive 8 hour cassette boxset titled, “V/A: NO WORKERS PARADISE” covers all of these bases and more, in one, mechanical, maniacal offering. Boxsets are awesome, and they’re even more compelling when they actually contain new material, by, gasp, even living artists. No shade on the myriad of Miles Davis and John Coltrane CD reissue boxsets that we have all seen and probably purchased, but eight hours of new material, from eight heavy hitters in the noise/industrial/power electronics scene enclosed in a matte black tool box, accompanied by a zine and customized time card to boot, is not really something we could (or should ignore). We received a rather large media mail box from New York and upon opening, the “No Workers Paradise” boxset emerged, a sleek matte black toolbox with a shiny chrome latch and basic font that reads “No Workers Paradise” is affixed to the top. Its interior reveals eight 60-minute cassettes and a zine/accompanying booklet for the release, and customized time card emerge as the tools for the job, so to speak. It was time to clock in.
As with all of the labels’ releases, the artwork is done by label head honcho Derek Rush who also books shows, is an active DJ, and works in graphic design and photography, so it comes as no surprise that all of the artwork included looks stunning and professional, accented by the printed booklet and cassette artwork itself. We haven’t even gotten into the sounds and this is already worth the $75 price tag without question, a truly beautifully put together collection. Now into the meat and bones of these disgruntled, bloody and beaten-down workers, we will delve into the sounds in reaction to the tormented work day!
The boxset starts with the label owner’s project, COMPACTOR, offering a strong, mechanically styled “old school” feeling industrial track with clanging rhythms, backed with the tick tock tick tock of the overlord’s clock. The panopticon is omnipresent and the worker must continue. Wake up. Work! Time To Work! Until you DIE, and DIE, until you can clock out at the end of the day and do it all again. Compactor’s sounds generally fall within a more mechanized style of industrial, there is soul, but it’s the soul of a robot programed to destroy itself, through repeated, violent, senseless rhythms, yet Rush’s sound and sample choices are powerful and intentional. The, slow, churning blown out percussion blends perfectly with the high squelching feedback of industry/insanity and multi-layered, multi-timbral synth workings. Compactor’s offering is the perfect opening to the project, cold, alienating, mechanized, and dense; the perfect ramp up to the more fuzzed out, abstracted works of some of the other contributors to the boxset, The Vomit Arsonist, Redrot, Gnawed, and Filth, amongst others.
Another standout sound work in this massive offering comes from Denton, TX’s FILTH, who offers up his own interpretation of an hour slice of the standard american work day. Rob Buttrum’s FILTH project is known for his menacing cacophony of industrialized noise, power electronics and analog psychedelic compositions. FILTH brings his A game to work for with a dark, brooding, menacing stitching of fuzzed out, psychedelic noise and drenched in feedback power electronics, in what can only be described as the FILTH sound, which we have covered in the past HERE in an interview with Buttrum and his label OUT OF BODY RECORDS. Buttrum does offer a rhythmic backing at times, but in a different, slightly more diffused, muffled style than COMPACTOR, but don’t skimp on the manual, because there is a harsh reality in store if you don’t, and you’re likely to get gobbled up into the machine and spat out as puny remains, but FILTH’s sound is not exclusively harsh, tripped out noise, there are abstracted broken rhythms, there is intention, it is planned, and panned, it IS the sound of the second hour of the day forcing itself into the negative space of your brain, that may in fact, prove to be your last of the day, of your life. FILTH is the sound of a rusted, dilapidated, unstable, harsh machine taking its unknowing operator with it to an early grave. Planned obsolescence, like user, like machine.
Michigan’s REDROT (Chondritic Sound, Bloodlust, Slaughter Productions) aka Ryan Oppermann offers another standout track on “No Worker’s Paradise” with one of their tracks titled, “Work Release Program Terminations”. REDROT is blackened, harsh noise/PE, with slices of blown out beats, and angular rhythmic structures over a sea of dense power electronics and industrial. The machine has already regurgitated the one time worker into a mess of fleshy, red, sacks of rotting remains, and REDROT is the absolute perfect soundtrack to the coworkers slowly and confusingly sweeping the bloody bits into a bag for disposal. Redrot carries a white noise sword which swiftly and steadily shaves away at the listeners inner ear canal, until a drop of blood leaks out, and starts a mechanical frenzy leaving the workers, along, confused, and scared as the drop turns into a red pool where music dies.
GNAWED‘s track for “No Worker’s Paradise” is similar to his other industrial, harsh noise, power electronics hybrid funeral stylings; chaotic, yet restrained, busy yet articulate, harsh but at times even beautiful. Much like FILTH, GNAWED uses homemade analog electronics to create a brooding, dark, cavernous sound all of his own. His “Terminal Epoch” album from Phage Tapes, would be the closest style wise that I’ve heard for the track for this boxset. GNAWED is a master of tension through intentional and articulate dynamics, balancing sharp, harsh sounds with lower, more brooding under swellings of terror; the track slowly and painfully oscillates between violent shudders, chaotic, dense, noise blasts and distorted, broken voice swells.
THE VOMIT ARSONIST, EXISTENCE IN DECLINE, BLSPHM and WORK/DEATH also punch in with powerful sound works blending industrial, harsh/blackened noise, power/electronics and dark, experimental moods of the harsher, angular style.
The boxset as a whole is a lengthy listen clocking in at the 8 hour mark, but when one thinks of the slow, grudging, unrelenting time clock of the american work day, this tour de force of harsh industrial / PE serves as a warm, relaxing day on the beach as a vacation, even for a day, from the alienating, hellscape robotic world that is American capitalism. Rush does right by all of the artists involved with stunningly beautiful and appropriate artwork and packaging as with all of the labels releases. A must for any noise collector, and/or hater of capitalism.
LIMITED TO 50 NUMBERED COPIES
(additional 16 go to artists only)