Various – Thalamus III

Various - Thalamus III

CD, KultFront, 2009
thalamus-fest.spb.ru

“Thalamus III” documents Russian post-industrial/noise artists alongside less classifiable work, mostly lo-fi, abrasive soundscapes. For those aware of the Russian scene, the (relatively) ‘big names’ here are Alexei Borisov, Bardoseneticcube and DMT.
Borisov opens with “Track01”, a slow, consolingly bleak piece featuring muttered vocals and Pan Sonic-like textures. “Track02” has a slow, heavy bass but also unnecessarily random, sonically correct, improv-like sounds that creep into the work. Bardoseneticcube’s “Untitled 1” is melancholically martial and soundtrack-like, featuring a period German voice sample. “Untitled 2” contrasts a very slow, heavy bass sound with a mournful atmosphere and a garbled electro voice, veering on kitsch but retaining interest.
DMT’s impressive “Каннибализм” features booming drums and a loping illbient rhythm and sounds like it could have come from one of the Mille Plateaux label’s “Electric Ladyland” compilations. The other DMT track, “Камбоджа”, also has a late 1990s feel – the metallic, dubby percussion and claustrophobic, droney atmosphere evoke and stand comparison with Techno Animal.
The obvious correlation on the tracks by Неизвестность is Cabaret Voltaire (both the scratchy, murky early tracks and the forced funkiness of the mid-1980s tracks). They sit uneasily here and feel as if they belong on another album. Ganzer operates in far noisier territory. “Tophet” is a dense, dynamic noise field from which a sampled euphoric pop track fights to emerge. “Northern Border” is a more straightforward and bracing noise-blast. The cryptically-titled project 1g0g features in two modes, firstly in collaboration with Анна Журко. It’s a sludgy mix of mournful female voice fragments, barking dogs, drones and other debris – an intermittently interesting/irritating collage that suggests social and/or mental breakdown. 1g0g’s “14-ый, Огонь!” features a de-tuned, twisted melody in a field of heavy percussion and various uproars including a crying child – this keeps the track unpleasant and also undermines it.
Говорит Радио Космос (Govorit Radio Kosmos) offers intense atmospherics and noise. “Эфирные Тени” is an impressive dark atmospheric track that becomes increasingly noisy and features an ominous sub-bass. Its real tour de force is “Хорошо!” in which an intermittent male voice rails against a desolate electronic howl of radiowaves and machinic screams within what sounds like a rapidly-collapsing factory. This is an epic noise piece and definitely not for the casual listener.
This is an uneven but important compilation and, provided you can endure the generally desolate tone, there are some really interesting pieces to be discovered.

[7/10]

— Alexei Monroe