Lasse Marhaug The Great Silence

[PACrec; 2007]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: harsh noise, power electronics
Others: Pain Jerk, Jazzkammer, Carlos Giffoni

It may seem like I'm on some sort of vendetta against PACrec. I reviewed three albums distributed by PACrec in the course of a year and gave them all low scores. Truth is, TMT headquarters sends us albums based on our areas of perceived expertise. Since I am one of the default noise-and-weird-music guys, headquarters hooks it up with bubble-wrap mailers full of promos that fit this niche. Sometimes I luck out and receive some great albums in the packet, but I mainly receive average- and below-average albums. For every four- or five-star albums, seven albums warrant a rating of three stars or below. (Almost all music factors into this equation but at a larger scale.)

PACrec releases a lot of albums each year, and while much of its output is worthwhile, the label’s prolific output factors into the aforementioned equation. Almost every time I get one of their promos, the album ends up being a run-of-the-mill noise record with little-to-no innovative variation. Each of these releases exhibit the “angry white male” mode of noise-making with walls of fuzz, caterwauling, and high-pitched breakdowns at ear-bleeding levels.

Lasse Marhaug’s The Great Silence is no different than any of the angry white male noise albums. In fact, it’s no different than any Japanese power electronics record from the late-'80s or early-'90s. Obviously, one can discern between, say, Sickness, Cherry Point, Prurient, Marhaug and the 3,000 other power electronics acts that sprouted up in the post-No Fun Fest/Lightning Bolt America, but the same elements make up each entity’s approach to music. Execution separates the doers from the dabblers. On The Great Silence, Marhaug seems like a dabbler figuring out what to do with a few pedals, a mic, and a Strat. Though Marhaug created a vast body of work in the past 20 years, both with Jazzkammer and solo, one cannot tell by listening to the album. Some angry screaming gleams through the chaos, but Marhaug brims the record with standard dense stop/start fuzz blitzkriegs.

The tracks, however, exhibit a varying approach. “Back to Nature” starts the record by instantly infesting the stereo with a thick swarm of buzzing amp intensity, occasionally interrupted by a high-pitched mic screech or frenzied train-whistle frequency. The thrill wears off after Marhaug screams into the mic, and it blends in with the sound. Soon, Marhaug transports the listener to a bland realm with a series of grating television fuzz swirls injected with the customary BUZZZZZZ [STOP/High-Pitch] BUZZZZZZZZZZ [STOP] antics. A few thrilling moments of venomous metal drilling and eerie keyboard cannot save this one from the used rack.

For nearly 30 minutes, “The New Sound” cuts up and mixes every Whitehouse track into a gapless, non-stop blur of noise with a few organ and radio sounds for good measure. Thirty-minutes is a lot to ask from a listener, and when the best one can muster is a gelatinous ball of rumbling cacophony conjured from overused metallic sounds, the fast-forward button is often the best option. The title track musters some great live moves with a blistering attack similar to Pain Jerk, the inherent problem being the track blasts through your stereo, not some PA speakers at the club. As with the majority of The Great Silence, it loses some of its intensity in translation and, in the end, could use a distinctive voice.

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