WASTELL & MARHAUG: Kiss Of Acid (Monotype Records)


Posted on Jul 20th 2011 01:25 am

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Wastell & Marhaug: Kiss Of Acid

Kiss Of Acid
Monotype Records 2011
01 Track. 41mins45secs

Amazon US: CD Norman Records: CD

‘Some guy in Norway making noise’. So goes Lasse Marhaug’s Twitter profile and it is fair to say that it is a pretty accurate description of the man’s extensive body of work. Kiss Of Acid is quite a different proposition altogether. This album is the result of a collaboration in the looser meaning of the term. Wastell and Marhaug never actually recorded together, or even defined any part of the idea behind the record as a working pair. The project started almost ten years ago when Wastell hired a 32” tam tam to use for a performance in Paris which never actually happened. Left with the instrument for the weekend, Wastell used the opportunity to arrange a recording session. The resulting sound sources were later sent to Marhaug who modeled and processed them into a series of slow evolutive drone formations. There is nothing of the heavily saturated and abrasive noise structures that often populate Marhaug’s records here though. Instead, he melts down his sound sources into a series of vast soundscapes with very little remaining percussive aspect to them.

The piece is split into sections which appear totally unconnected with each other yet share a common genesis. In the first ten minutes, Marhaug arranges surface noises, glitches and distant textures into a diffuse hum, through which resonate a pulsating thud, sounding somewhat like a heartbeat, for a moment. Everything happens at microscopic level here, and Marhaug purposely places a muffled glow around his sounds, giving the impression that they are heard from inside a womb. This progressively morphs into a much more ominous drone, which continuously changes as it grows more prominent over the next few minutes. There is a gong-like quality to this formation, but, stripped of any percussive appearance, it instead takes on the appearance of a sprawling flow of lava.

This part is brought to an abrupt end with a single blast of glitches. What follows is quite fascinating. Using slow regular blows to create a hypnotic base structure, Marhaug progressively builds a deeply contemplative and mournful sequence which, unlike the preceding one, remains pretty much the same for much of its course, but, as layers are progressively added and the blows become more diluted, Marhaug initiates the last part of the piece. If, until then, he had remained on fairly quiet, introspective grounds, he develops here a much more angular sonic structure, which becomes progressively denser and more toxic as it fills the space, but as it begins to retire, its top layers stripped away to reveal an underbelly or decaying sounds, the whole thing is eventually blown away.

Kiss Of Acid is quite a strange and disturbing record, but not quite in the way Lasse Marhaug’s work often is. There is no remaining trace of any actual rhythmic sections, or proof that there were any in the first place. Everything is based on textures here, none of them in their raw form. The processing is relentless here, and, while a demanding piece of work, this album is also a rather impressive sonic space.


Mark Wastell | Lasse Marhaug | Lasse Marhaug (Soundcloud) | Monotype Records
Amazon US: CD Norman Records: CD

Lasse Marhaug, Mark Wastell – Kiss of Acid (video trailer) from MonotypeRec on Vimeo.

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