To say that Maurice’s Hotel Death’s ‘CO N’ sounds like a really good live noise set isn’t to damn it with faint praise. Noise – if one can corral a mangled field of approaches, personal obsessions and sonic thuggery into a single genre, just for a second – can be at its absolute best when you it gets downloaded, full-force, into your lobes at a gig. The combination of volume, seat-of-the-pants improvisation, textural variety and minimal structure sparks an adrenaline rush that makes its considered studio-borne counterparts look positively anaemic by comparison.
It’s not always great, of course. In fact, it’s not always any good at all. And tapes of the good shows are usually pretty lame, hidebound by crummy recording and longueurs that your brain had edited out in its synaptic frenzy. This is where ‘CO N’ comes in. It ain’t a live tape, but neither is it an over-engineered Ableton/Max/Reaper/whatever opus that you’ve shelled out a pony for on Boomkat but whose nit-picky perfection leaves you cold. Nah, this is a nicely-recorded, thoughtfully put together assemblage of crunch and growl, with just enough looseness over its 15-minute lifetime to retain an unpredictable, on-the-fly feel.
With ‘CO N’, there’s always the chance that things will veer off in an unexpected direction. Whether this indeterminacy is governed by the whims of its creator (the mysterious Larry Crywater) or its own internal directives is rewardingly ambiguous. In the first few minutes alone, galloping blisters give way to dour, sinusy whines before shuffling into a swirl of grainy fuzz. It’s like some polluted sonic puddle, seeping across the landscape in all directions, the changing textures equivalent to the different topographic features that that become slowly subsumed into its oily depths. Things get proper punchy around eight minutes in, with a series of grubby burps and abrasive pulsations giving way to a greasy train-wreck screech, then to lairy binman clatter, then to a gradual wind-down of decaying motorised chirrups. A bunch of shortwave garble and messy rattles stops things getting too elegant at the end, but, all in all, it’s still a pretty smart formation.