One need not look only to an immediate community for mutual decent principles and solidarity. Such is certainly the case for noise artists Stress Orphan and FACIALMESS, who reign out of Baltimore and Tokyo, respectively. The two recently collaborated on a split for Perfect Law Releases, each from a different side of the globe, and its match is nothing short of extremely gratifying. Eric Trude’s piece as Stress Orphan, entitled “Labor,” is a meditation on the belittlement of the workforce for the betterment of higher-ups (otherwise known as “they”). Unsettled grumbling loops, papery in feel, fumble beneath drill-like machinations, setting an industrial backdrop from which the working class can play out their drama of manifesting dissatisfaction. Airy, rumbling unrest drones on, crawling up and out from stomach to heart and head and hands. You feel it churning like the bad taste of regret until it gives complete way as Trude’s bassy voice bellows, “Is freedom worth death?” And unannounced, coal-dusted electronics incite the upheaval of earth and sky, the erasure of everything that was before. The vocals turn to enraged, guttural protestations of defiance and historic facts. He roars, threatens, incentivizes, “This is our home…We will not take this lying down…And they won’t leave this town alive.” The scene is Virginia, Colorado, as the lyrics cite, but it may as well be any working-class town being sucked dry. The low-end growl of power electronics whirrs on, as does the sermon, together fleshing out the growing anguish of workers knowing their worth, and praying them to fight for it.
FACIALMESS (Kenny Sanderson’s) contribution, recorded in Shinjuku, Tokyo, echoes the mechanized intensity of the previous track, its malignancy lying in its obscurity. As a cut-up artist, Sanderson creates more jarring, more jagged atmospheres, effective all the same. The track, “Tearing Down A Sick Man,” hits like a ton of cinderblocks within its first millisecond, and then proceeds to tear through its own foundations with jackhammer-like discharges of incensed electronics. The suddenness of sound is an instrument in and of itself, catching you off guard every time, a blitzkrieg of grief and rage. Just as Stress Orphan does not allow for peace in complacency, FACIALMESS does not allow for peace in stagnancy. It seems, at times, that a structure is about to form, but the entire composition is based in unpredictability. Heavy shit subsides for a minute, allowing for brief relief. Hollowed rooms, distant voices conversing in Japanese, accompanied by sounds of saw and drills. It’s not peaceful, by any means, but in comparison to what was before? Of course it’s short-lived, as harsh blasts of reverberating static hell brutalize any notion of catching your breath. And then, as suddenly as it first hit you, Sanderson cuts the power, and the silence is deafening.