Over the past few years, Organized Music from Thessaloniki has created a discography in which the uncompromising nature of its sonics are equalled by the originality and clarity in thinking of the musicians producing them. Whether enigmatic sound art, probing electroacoustic composition or full-on noise, label boss Kostis Kilymis has a keen ear for artists probing the edges of their chosen fields, and the result is a catalogue that is rarely less than essential. Daniel Bennett’s Roil is the latest outburst in this steady wave of creativity, its four tracks as punchy and blistered as a box of hammers forged in the heart of a volcano. But if the high-temperature fury of its constructions place it towards the more abrasive end of the OMT portfolio, alongside such delights as Nick Hoffman’s Necropolis and Enrique R. Palma’s Contenance, the intricacy and control that Bennett brings to his compositions gives it a steely focus that only adds to its power.
I think I last came across Bennett in his duo recording with Stephen Cornford, Fellfield Draff, a grimy, rubble-strewn marvel on the Hideous Replica label, and he has dug out a pretty impressive range of works before that, whether as part of agonized noise punks Hunting Lodge, under his Skjølbrot pseudonym (see the wonderfully eerie Mearsk) or, more recently, using his own name. Some diverse outputs, sure, but there’s a nod to structure in all of them – a unifying factor that also marks out a Bennett project from the gigabytes of flabby eai scrunches or harsh noise tantrums that pile up in every available format these days.
So, Roil is tight, but it’s also tough. Tenenbaum whiplashes out of my speakers like a gaggle of grumpy white-noise cobras, spitting out a stream of irregular poisonous hisses, its acid droplets enough to burn my poor ears off my head. Those darting attacks continue through the six or so minutes of its runtime, while coagulating beds of granulated, stuttering grind heave beneath, the stop and start dynamic of its surging advance far more dynamic and detailed than just about anything in the noise section of my review box. And even when the throttle seems to be opened for a full-scale avalanche, as on We, the constantly-shifting turmoil – from voltage shrieks and gristly blasts to ominous pulsations and razor-edged heat-beams – demands close listening even as it beckons euphoric abandon.
Roil’s uncompromising, abrasive textures originated from array electronic and acoustic equipment feeding back into each other, the sonic results of which were then ordered and sculpted on computer. Bennett’s method explains the claustrophobic density of these pieces, his sounds layered and rubbing up against to create tantalising, challenging shapes. But there’s also a mischievous air to the ways in which his juxtapositions and occasionally abrupt sonic swerves keep us listeners on their toes, and I suspect some of that cheekiness bleeds through to track titles too. Pain, while evoking images of some Power Electronics angst sulk, is one of the least wince-inducing cuts here – instead Bennett builds a meticulous tapestry of high-pitched drones and buzzsaw grind, only letting loose with a full-on volley in its final minutes. The spluttering whoops and revs of Mint, meanwhile, offer a curious, almost absurdist contrast to its title. Cool and fresh, yeah? Aye, it’s certainly bracing.
Roil was released back in February, but in a week which saw the passing of Mika Vainio, its meticulous roughness seems totally appropriate. Bennett’s work may differ from Vainio’s both in technique and content but Roil shares some of the Finnish noise pioneer’s maverick spirit and deadpan aggression. Mandatory listening.