Ian M. Fraser: The Realness

Self-released cassette and download

A hissing pit of vipers, this one. Released in August on a C20 cassette, this is a real blast from the opening sucker punch of the first track, Parallels, through to the wheezing roars of Worf Gets Denied (Again and Again…)

Fraser is a musician and improviser from Philadelphia, who works on some pretty out-there computer music, both as a solo artist and with compadre Reed Evan Rosenberg. Together they have created Keroaän, which Fraser describes on his website as   “a musical Artificial Intelligence designed to perform without any human intervention what-so-ever”.

Great stuff. Here, however, Fraser is on much more confrontational form, with a shower of computer noise that’s like standing in a freezing hailstorm. Only the hailstones are, in fact, needles, and they’re not falling, they’re being fired at you from some gigantic brass cannon.

It’s pretty punk if I’m honest, especially in the grumpy stop-starts of Parallels. The first minute of this track is evil, a freaking desert storm of digital frenzy, aggressive and ugly.  Abruptly, it cuts to a still drone, yet periodically snatches of static break through. At about three minutes the noise bursts back out, like a rupture between universes or a wrecking crew smashing through the walls of beautifully appointed condo. Take that hipsters!

From then on, it’s abrasive stuff, an industrial drill slowly boring through solid rock, or a train running off its tracks and scraping along a tunnel wall at high speed. Maximum damage.

For the final section, we’re on to a high-pitched ringing, like the most heinous alarm clock in the world, its vile bell piercing your eardrums and pushing deep into your cerebral cortex. At the very end, the needle splits the groove and splays out in broken corrosion.

The other track, Worf Gets Denied (Again and Again…) – nice Star Trek NG reference, man – is just as harsh, but in a different way. Again, the blasts of noise are as jagged as a cuss from a Klingon, digital, constantly changing and interrupted, occasionally dropping into a rushing, hissing sound.

I dunno, for all of its brutal vibes, this track seems more fun, less misanthropic. It’s a joyful noise that has more of the plastic, tactile quality of traditional noise (especially in its Japanese variation) and seems more suited to a cathartic submission in the face of its all-consuming wave.

At around seven minutes, the hurricane stops, with no warning, and we get a minutes or so of silence. It’s great, like some Francisco Lopez track in reverse, before a juddering, blistered signal starts up with the howls and hisses of a wrecked machine.


Get it here 

Keep up to date with Ian’s comings and goings at his website.



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