MICK HARRIS - Hednod Sessions
[Hidden Art Recordings,

[3rd Stone Records,

JOHN MASSONI - Stillborn Dreams
[Space Age Recordings,

Music has an awful power over people. In a split second, it has the capability to change your mood from the highest high to lowest low. This batch of releases unravels a slow moving descent from your everyday reality into pure, unadulterated hell. Mick Harris is infamous for sombre and ominous beats. Whatever he touches turns to cold, dry stone. "Hednod Sessions" were originally released a few years ago on Hushhush as 4 x 12 inch pieces of coloured vinyl. They came strictly in limited editions. Additional tracks on this release are comprised of the "Having It" CD that was only available to subscribers to the "Hednod Sessions" series. Onto the music. Over the length of about 2,5 hours, Mick Harris produces repetitive beats [imagine a beat box stuck in the same mode for an entire night] that are coloured with percussive samples and brief but eerie sound effects. The results of having listened to this record a number of times are mixed. My first reaction was one of fascination with the sheer minimalism of the production. Next, came a trance-like state, where I drifted off into slumber for a few minutes. When I awoke, the first thing I felt was a creeping sense of fear. The music was etched in my brain so deeply, I couldn't get these damn, repetitious and manipulative beats out of my mind. If you've looking for a record that will alter your perceptions and wrench at your gut at the same time, "Hednod Sessions" is a good place to start.

Noise mongrels and eerie sound surveyors Bark Psychosis take us on a different type of journey into the deepest darkest corners of their mind. "Replay" is the third [and final?] collection of their complete non-Hex catalogue being re-issued by 3rd Stone Records. From the initial track "Clawhammer", I was bombarded with such extremes amounts of noise and distortion, I had to quickly run over to the stereo and turn down the volume a few notches. From there, though the sheer "noise" factor subsides [though a track like "Hex" is once again at the noise extremes]; we're still faced with music that wrenches at the gut. The final five tracks are live recordings from St. John's Church in London, which date back to 1991. These are the most introspective pieces on the CD [both in their approach and their level of extremes]. I love the way the band uses the acoustics of the church to produce deep and looming echoes that emanate from their guitars. [Check out "Bloodrush" for proof] These five final tracks stand so far apart from the rest of this material, that maybe it would've been best to release them separately. Overall, "Replay" is a solid compilation of tracks that otherwise would not have seen the light of day.

Finally, we come to the darkest record of this bunch. John Massoni's "Stillborn Dreams" is so stark, so ominous and so dim that it gives me the creeps every time I put it in my CD player. This is a collection of loops, samples, stark processed guitars and keyboards that literally sound as if they were the soundtrack to hell itself. What I'm getting at is there should have been a label attached on the CD "This is UNEASY listening". With the exception of "Fireflies" which is reminiscent of soft sounds of nature on a warm spring day this record offers gloom, stark landscapes and sounds that are sure to please most of the manic depressive population. John Massoni has an affinity for dark music and it shows. Sonic Boom of Spaceman 3 mixed one track "Spirits", which features gloomy, echo-like sounds and scattered whispers. If you take your music dark [with no cream or sugar], "Stillborn Dreams" is guaranteed to please.

Tom Sekowski

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+ SIRONE BANG ENSEMBLE - Configuration
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