Lona Records (Locd88r)
Straight out of Hong Kong via Berlin and Italy comes this bristling freeform guitar gem. Comprised of a single 18-minute track, Extended Play is a scraped and grumpy axe quartet improvisation recorded in Hong Kong at the start of the year and released by Alok Leung’s Lona Records in July.
It brings together Error: Wrong, aka Berlin-based guitarist Eric Wong, with free improvising axeman Sherman Ho, Italian noisenik (and HK resident) Naturalismo and HK born and bred noisemonger, SIN:NED.
It’s pretty uncompromising, merging gnarly free improvisation with shrieking wails of digital noise. Imagine a pit of crocodiles going to work on a bag of kittens and you’d be halfway there. It’s kind of fun, too, as all four players let loose from the get go and, instead of listening to each other and slowly building up to an exploratory understanding, just go hell for leather, musically at each other’s throats for the whole session.
There is, as you might guess, lots going on, with four different approaches to improvisation and four different styles chucked into the pot and left to fester. The contribution of SIN:NED, aka Re-Records head honcho Dennis Wong, to take part was an inspired move. He plays the Chapman Stick – a kind of electronic guitar that you play by tapping the strings – which he pushes to its limit, extorting all manner of anguished howls.
While his solo release Organs Without Body gives you a hefty wallop of undiluted SIN:NED Chapman abuse, he’s on darned feisty form here too, adding the kind of searing noise that’s more usually associated with a battleship being torn asunder. Meanwhile the other three guitars writhe, spit, and wrap themselves into all manner of spiny knots.
There’s a particularly good bit at about six and half minutes, where, in amongst the chaos, what sounds like a whole load of electronic gubbins splatter the guitars with bleeps and rattles, before a truly blood curdling series of screeches kicks in. It’s a mangled, screeching mess of aggression and craziness, an avalanche of barbed wire crashing into the gleaming skyscrapers of the technological super city.
Things calm down a few minutes before the end, with a narcoleptic coda to take Extended Play to its close. But overall the music is tightly coiled and furious, with none of the transcendence and euphoria of an abstract harsh noise wall. Instead, it’s pissed off, arrhythmic, obstinately rooted in the grim realities of the here and now.
Recent disturbances in Hong Kong have shown that you can only push the inhabitants of that city so far until their outwardly calm exterior is blown apart and their pent-up frustration is let loose. Anyone who listens to this recording – which, despite having been laid down some eight months before the present unrest, somehow anticipates its inchoate rage – won’t be surprised by this.
G0 get it from Lona Records.
Sherman Ho bandcamp
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