A.F. Jones: rearward through forgottenness

Self released CDr and download

rearward through forgottenness is gorgeous and terrifying. Its chasms of searing noise, machine quakes and intimidating rhythmic clangs suggest immense tectonic shifts occurring across the vast spans of geological time. The soundtrack to the birth of a planet or the slow breaking apart of a continent.

Its creator, A.F. Jones, is well known in underground circles as an audio engineer and one-time overseer of the Bagatellen website, as well as an artist in his own right. (As audio engineer, he’s worked on several releases I’ve written about, including this one and this one).

So it’s no surprise that this record sounds so good while positioning itself so perfectly in the interstices of noise and drone, whiles also nodding towards industrial music and underground rock.

Opener X Malfeasant, Appropriating Y is suitably glowering, pouring out of my speakers in a white-hot larval flow. Its liquid throbs have a slow, lurching rhythm at first, before it gradually collapses into a seismic howl. That first half is wonderful, so abrasive and sounding so fucking LOUD even as I play it through my tinny laptop speakers while my daughters tut and huff over their homework in the next room.

The title track goes matches this piece for pure evil, with a piercing, saw toothed tone that’s like a power drill to the forehead. In these two pieces in particular, I can really feel the play of power and submission that you get with artists in the nexus of noise and industrial music; Swans, Whitehouse perhaps and, more recently, Pharmakon. And, while Jones’ work doesn’t share the metaphysics that these artists indulge in, the oppressive layers of sound he creates, and the incessant and unavoidable rhythms, seem to set him on some similar axis.

Elsewhere, the heavy vibes are dialled down a little. The dull metallic clonkings of Endocardium’s IV are swathed in atmospheric drones and what could be bowed strings. Although there is a cardiac feel to it – any scientists will know that the endocardium is the heart’s inner layer of tissue that helps regulate contractions – the overall feeling I get is of desolation, a solitary bell tolling on a windswept heath from some unknown Kurosawa epic of feudal Japan.

Jones has put this album together from pieces created over the past five or so years, and while it is churlish to look for any kind of development or progression over time, I can’t help feeling that his work here gets more strident as it approaches the present. The ambient glow of Radiator Piping, which dates from 2009, feels positively sunny in outlook compared to the title tracks, which was recorded in 2013.

Even the modular squiggles and buzzes of Wrought Signals , from 2012, sound incredibly bad tempered, all the more so for seeming to unfold in slow motion. The sequence of gradually changing sonics seems to sway like some mechanical cobra, so impossibly lethargic, until breaking out into spitting noise, the strike that catches you unawares.

File under FIERCE.


Get rearward through forgottenness from A.F. Jones’ Bandcamp site or from erstwhile records.

More info here.


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