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These reviews were originally published in EST 2 in 1992


Realization is a fairly new small American label, specialising in the abstract noise scene: music with few obvious relationships to the real world and which attempts to provoke a new way of listening. The aim is to turn unstructured sound, noise, into something listenable.

Realization make available the back catalogue of one of America's better known noise artists, PBK. One example, 1988's Die Brücke steps from gentle ambient drones through to storms of coarse, raw noise, structured as if it were any other music. Rather than seeing what patterns evolve from the chaotic noise, as his later works do, this imposes a structure on the noise, using the noise as if it were any musical instrument. As a result, it's a great tape, and more accessible than more recent PBK material, such as his first CD, a collaboration with Asmus Tietchens, titled Five Manifestoes (RZD-008). The 38 minutes of this CD explore various types of repetitive noise, incorporating some of Tietchens' hydrophonic recordings, high-pitched squealing, resonant clatterings and other, less easily nameable sounds. It's one of the least accessible of either musician's releases, drawing sounds out from the void, deep space sounds. The noises are almost totally freed from earthly influences, almost totally existing in an abstract field of pure sound. Also available is a new PBK cassette, Profusion.

Big City Orchestra and Illusion of Safety are two of the bigger names in American experimental noise, both with many releases to their names. Their untitled collaborative cassette (RZC-003) shows off a rhythmic style, looping, rolling, droning compositions. It's quite claustrophobic music, at times almost menacing. The approach to noise here is to use it as an atmosphere, to document noise as an emotion. Of the two, I've only heard B.C.O. before, and in a much less intimidating vein than this.

Thomas Dimuzio's Sone Songs (RZC-005) collects six live pieces from 1990, totalling nearly an hour of music. It's performed using digital samplers and processors, and tends towards the more ambient side of Realization's noise spectrum. It layers billowing clouds of quietly screeching noise against subdued fragments of voice and subtle rhythmic patterns to good effect. There's a great deal of variety, and even if tracks like Black Stime Vice are sometimes too conventionally "industrial" in their sound, it's generally original and pleasing. There are a few particularly bright and resonant moments, which create a nice contrast with the longer drone stretches. Noise that has been both domesticised and goaded into savagery. Another artist whose work Realization aims to keep available is Hands To, whose cassettes on the Big Body Parts label are reissued in the Realization catalogue. A new Hands To recording is also available, Eurean Recant (RZC-004). One of my favourite Realization releases, these 1989 and 1990 pieces blur the edges of the noise to produce a swirling, turbulent sound environment, not unlike a blizzard at times. The noisier tracks could be the sound of a busy airport, or of carpet-bombing. Who can tell? Essentially, Eurean Recant is background noise, sounds heard through the wall, the ambient hum of everyday life transformed into music.

Architects Office are one group with no shortage of releases to their name, including a huge number of contributions to compilations. Their 9th Year Gala Performance (RZC-006), recorded live in March '91, consists of noise in the technical sense: random data, information without meaning, interference. Recordings of various instrumentalists are mixed with ambient hisses, morse squiggles, radios, field recordings. You'll either find it to be an ingenious sampling from the information ether, or self-indulgent, slipshod collage: I think it contains its fair share of both.

Ron of RRRecords is responsible for a radio show as well as the label, and Due Process's RRRadio 53 (RZC-002) is a tape from one such radio broadcast. Ron take's tapes from various contributors (here including Korm Plastics, Schimpfluch and H.N.A.S.) and mixes them live to make the broadcast. It's some of the most difficult listening covered here, with a succession of gnarled, chewed up noise pot pourris and acetylene ambiences that can be very hard to get into. But like all noise, it possesses a language of its own, and can be quite emotional at times. I'll admit, however, that it's one of my less favourite Realization cassettes.

A reasonable introduction to all Realization's artists is the CD As Yet Untitled (RZD-001), which samples output from all the above plus people like sonic surrealist Randy Grief, Arcane Device, The Haters and AMK. It's at the same time consistent and diverse. Most artists find a niche somewhere in the abstract noise genre somewhere, but they're sometimes quite widely separated niches. As a result, it's not really listenable as an album. It never gets a chance to suck the listener into any of its particular noise-pools. If I'd heard it before the individual artists' work, it may even have put me off!

All of Realization's cassette releases are attractively packaged. Like a few other small labels, they've cottoned on to colour lasercopying, and their tapes are housed in colourful inlays adorned with appropriately abstract art. It's nice to see people who obviously care so much about what they're doing. Sometimes, there seems to be a bewildering variety of cassette labels in existence, but Realization is one of the more focussed that I've come across.

Contact: Realization, 540 San Clemente, Ventura, CA 93001, U.S.A. DISCLAIMER: I haven't been in touch with Realization recently; the address may have changed.

All reviews by Brian Duguid 1992