Pure Racket [CS; Hausu Mountain]

Maybe we stop calling it “noise.” Maybe instead we call it “junk.” When I think of noise, I think violence, painful sorts of listening situations. Junk on the other hand has substance — junk is real, junk is stuff. Junk can be ugly and gross, I guess, if you want to think of it that way (and in the case of Sugarm, that even sort of works some of the time). But the important thing here is that junk can be useful. Junk can be constructive. To say that Pure Racket is a bunch of junk is to also say that it is a sculpture made of things like banana peels, trash can lids, remote controls… Sometimes it’s things that are slimy and slippery, sometimes it’s plastic things with empty battery cases, scraps of metal, heaps of crumpled up cardboard boxes, wooden door handles… The stuff that doesn’t work any more, or maybe was never meant to in the first place, Mike Sugarman collects these figurative building blocks and makes them functional within whatever weird universe this is. Sugarm’s sounds come from (probably) none of the objects I’ve spent my time describing here — instead it’s things like synthesizers and samplers, pieced together with nuts and bolts, ratchets and hardware, sparked to life with the flip of a circuit breaker switch. And on the other end of the production line, what we get is a robot where all the components aren’t necessarily electronic, lumbering away on some mundane task, speeding its way down a train track, or whirring quietly in recharge stasis. And if you thought all that was weird, wait until you get to side B, which is to say that things actually “normalize” themselves to a degree…. Softer, a bit less eventful, even downright pretty with some nice guitar ballad work, too. So painful? Ear splitting? Hardly. At worst (best?) it’s kind of uncomfortable, but you and me both know you were plenty comfortable before you started reading this review.


Cerberus seeks to document the spate of home recorders and backyard labels pressing limited-run LPs, 7-inches, cassettes, and objet d’art with unique packaging and unknown sound. We love everything about the overlooked or unappreciated. If you feel you fit such a category, email us here.

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