One third of noise-thrash-meltdown trio Kill Alters, Bonnie Baxter strikes out on her own for this scorcher of a tape on Hausu Mountain. Baxter’s maxed-out sound squashes the computerised assault of those Digital Hardcore yobbos into the freewheeling rock-techno maximalism of Melt-Banana to create toxic missiles of rage. Distorted drum machine barrages drive Baxter’s yowling, yelping vocals onward, buoyed by needling electronics and teeth-grinding synth repetitions. On cuts such as ‘Vivid’ Baxter’s supercharged donk is so saturated in white-noise that my poor old laptop seems to shiver in protest. Gawd only knows what it auto-destructive fury it would wreak on the heads of my tape deck were I lucky enough to grip a physical copy.
Indeed, shorn of her bandmate’s complementary textures, Baxter solo is an even more viscerally wrenching experience. True, Kill Alters records such as 2016’s ‘No Self Helps’ have a certain bludgeoning stomp, courtesy of drummer Hisham Bharoocha (formerly of Black Dice and Lighting Bolt). But by keeping things electronic, ‘Ask Me How Satan Started’ signals a turn inward, away from the social world, creating a hermetic personal mythology that combines artefacts from Baxter’s own history (that’s her childhood voice on the album’s title track) with her wild and whirling ruminations.
The effect is never more disorientating than on ‘Lattice Belt’, Baxter raining down snare and hi-hat patters like titanium hailstones while her own looped snarls jig around between them. You can’t dance to this stuff, exactly, despite dancefloor rhythms peeking through the fusillade. Yet other tracks like ‘Impasse’ provide some opportunity for cathartic hypnosis, the waves of feedback in lockstep with jittering percussion to make a corroded mantra. And when the wart-ridden bass lurches in around two-thirds of the way through, euphoria rather than horror is the only acceptable response.