DECAYCAST Reviews: AMANDA R HOWLAND “Spider, Milk, Batshit, Silence” (No Rent, 2018)
Cleveland, OH recording artist Amanda R. Howland comes with refreshing array of sonic possibilities and strategies with, “Spider, Milk, Batshit, Silence” her first tape for the NO RENT imprint, with two sides of mixed-bag, dense, electronics spanning from harsh noise, to musique concrete, to sections accentuating voice, to more abstracted rhythm sections which blend in and out of a gentle, yet very present, bowed, hum. Static, voice, melody, clattering broken rhythms, radio chatter of ancient transmissions and a harsh sense of absence are all present in this short but important release. Tension is another constant theme to the ear as one section may contain a harsh, alienating scraping; a sound nasty pissed and angrily broken, inching across the floor toward its prey as the amplitude and aggression increase and climax into an alarm style buzzing; alerting the listener that, yes, now is your time. Another sound, if even for a moment, may offer a brief, ambient respite to the harsh reality that has encapsulated us all, “Spider, Milk, Batshit, Silence” is, indeed the sound of that. A chaotic, dangerous and aurally thick and swift climax appears and then vanishes leaving only a distant hum of abstracted silence, a slow, subtle, thumping as if the decaying heart has pushed red for its final beat. The silence at the end of side one almost doesn’t seem real as the listener is left with wanting more of this uncertain future the ears and brain have yet to test, yet to experience. If any sonic territories are left unexplored under the “experimental” or “out-sound” tags on side one, we soon learn they will be shredded and eviscerated on side two with as much skill, tension, and carefully articulated abstraction as they were on side one.
The second side, “Batshit, Silence” picks up right where the A side dropped us off, with a high-pitched, distorted and warped melody. Intense shrieks, angry swells, and ancient hymns of bouncing, pulsing sine-wave frequencies gel together like a microbiological fungus slowly transforming into something much greater and dangerous, the thick scraping, shooting radio0 transmissions into the brain grow together, seamlessly providing a ridged and ugly backbone for abstracted layers of thunderous pounding, the a tonal scraping of a ferociously thick winds ripping across the gruesome and confusing scene, pulling tiny, flesh-ridden shards of the listeners inner ear with it, to cascade upon, as Howlands’ dark, grinning, noisy, churning machine glides through the wires and slowly leaks out of the pores offering a new dark reality, endlessly searching for a cave to whip around in, an enormous sound. This scene is eventually evacuated to barren, alien radio transmissions have crept their way in and angst-like shake and sputter long lost messages over the dense, thick walls of bleeding electronics, this like life eventually fades away and we are left with an alienating, deafening silence. Highly dynamic and enjoyable tape for a wide variety of experimental delvers. Pick u the digital HERE and the cassette HERE