Birchville Cat Motel Seventh Ruined Hex

[Important; 2007]

Styles: guitar based-noise, skronk/skree
Others: The Dead C, Flying Saucer Attack, Alastair Galbraith, Yellow Swans

Birchville Cat Motel’s concierge Campbell Kneale has, like many noise practitioners, released a slew of records over the years on many less-popular and low-budget formats. Long a favorite of the folks over at Aquarius Records, Kneale amalgamates ominous drone and lots of wayward skree to create compositions that can be as enveloping as they are discordant.

The song titles alone give you an idea of the sonic aggression that’s in store. Opener “Ghastly Star” gnashes its teeth and shrieks into the night for nearly a quarter-hour, like Grendel’s mother equipped with a distortion pedal and a signal generator. Surprise! It doesn’t get any easier with “Werewolf Shorn of its Hell” (one of my favorite song titles ever). This cut shifts from the keening, cover-your-ears-and-weep noise of “Ghastly Star” to a more mechanical grind. Imagine a phaser applied to the sound of 100 CDs thrown into a woodchipper.

Despite its redundancy, the label “harsh noise” is a pretty apt one for this record until the final track. “Bee” reprises some of the lacerating sounds heard earlier in the disc and folds them into a throbbing, viscous mixture of static and distended notes. It’s stately, menacing, and worth the wait. The track discloses a serrated logic that has perhaps been twisting and oscillating through the cacophony of Seventh Ruined Hex all along. At the end, the very ugliness that has been so challenging attains a lovely subtlety and poise. If you’re looking for a more combative way to get a drone fix, there are worse places to start.

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