Sightings Arrived In Gold

[Load; 2004]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: noise, experimental, early industrial
Others: Black Dice, Throbbing Gristle, Wolf Eyes

Some of you are probably gonna recoil at this piece cause I'm a noise tourist. Because, 99% of the time, I feel like there has to be some sort of harmonic or rhythmic thrust for a record to ignite, let alone sustain interest. Because I refuse to go into the masochistic, high-abrasion realms that feed into exclusionary underground politics. Because I walked out of No Fun Fest with a fixed sneer. As far as I'm concerned, contrarianism is not innovation. It's an old-timey and boring concept that unapproachable readymade hipster twits cling to as though uninviting is the ultimate invitation. Obnoxiousness is not novel like nihilism. Extremist approaches to music can be as enticing to as they are dismissive of their audience. Xiu Xiu do it. Lightning Bolt do it. And on this LP, Sightings do chaos some bubbling, internecine justice.

I got that Load Records DVD/CD and it might have changed my perspective just a little. There's a good deal of imagination to be found amidst the toxic waste-flinging realms of the noise scene. It's exciting in bites, but at North Six I just felt pathetically out of place. It's not even a question of taste. I can't imagine Arrived in Gold being something I put on ever, but I can pick up on its strengths. Another reviewer suggested it was like a more interesting version of Black Dice's Creature Comforts. On this point I must concur. Both releases possess a plodding, random kind of procession of squelchy, gritty sluggish processions of caustic sounds. But where Creature Comforts felt thin, Arrived in Gold thickens the stock with a decidedly more propulsive approach. Sightings is one of many overtly caustic bands I wouldn't touch with a eleventeen foot pole. Or if I did, I would automatically retract that pole and feel foolish for my curiosity. Kind of like when I purchased I Spit On Your Grave on a whim. This album, much like Pick A Winner, is often rewarding in odd ways.

It brings to mind a menacing oil rig (perhaps like the one in Breaking the Waves) atmosphere where rust flakes onto the deck as massive chains are dragged around. It's the sound of drudgery and the moments of idle menace in between. Men who've been working too long amidst an iron cacophony and stop only to discover there is no job well done satisfaction, just want. It's the sound of human beings grafting themselves into various metals, not for cyborg aspirations, but because they blindly, desperately wish to have a purpose besides self-service. It's the sound of humans brazenly, absurdly aspiring to be as strident and supremely functional as a giant steel turbine. This album's no concept: it comes from what it is even when it feels kind of funky ("Sugar Sediment"). If one were to attempt a more mainstream comparison, the LP is like a more reserved exploration and extension of the most abrasive little moments of Last Splash, particularly "S.O.S." Yet another way to look at this release would be a refresher course on/revamping of early experimental industrial music. Either way, this churning murk is well worth exploring, unless it's not formless or indulgent enough for you more, more, more maelstrom mavens out there. I suggest you guys find a concrete wall and start banging till the blood comes.

1. One Out of Ten
2. Sugar Sediment
3. Odds On
4. Internal Compass
5. Switching To Judgement
6. Dudes
7. The Last Seed
8. Arrived In Gold, Arrived In Smoke