Sunday, April 19, 2009
NON - Easy Listening for Iron Youth
NON is Boyd Rice: pioneer, instigator, prankster, misanthrope, esoterica authority, and all around jolly fellow. He wrote for The Modern Drunkard for chrissakes.
"Boyd Rice's tongue is firmly within cheek (then again, when isn't it?) with this compilation of his work from the 1980s -- among other personages, the album is dedicated to Vlad the Impaler (pictured on the front cover feasting among his victims), Charles Manson, and "the Hero of Green River." Easy Listening for Iron Youth has one big disadvantage for the newcomer -- namely, no information at all as to where the compositions came from originally. Credits for his various collaborators (including Coil, Tony Wakeford, and Rose McDowall) are mentioned, happily, but otherwise the interested newcomer will have to start scrounging websites to find out more. That problem aside, the compilation is a well-sequenced peek into Rice's mind, covering both his musical and thematic extremes, from swirling, ear-piercing classical loops to murky crypto-religious invocations and subtle variations on seemingly straightforward rhythms. An emphasis on sound qua sound predominates for all the details of the presentation; such songs as the minimal beat and repeating notes of "Rise," the distorted howling of "Carnis Vale," and the fascinating mechanical drone/squall Coil-co-write "Predator/Prey" revel in the possibilities. Moments like what sounds like a Nazi rally audience on "Conflagration" and the distorted horns and recitations on "Scorched Earth" aren't going to please anyone who looks first and foremost at Non as the spirit of Hitler come to life (ignoring the fact that, for instance, Rice notably leaves that name off his dedication list). It's the wryest and blackest of humor at points, the more so because the music itself is straightforwardly serious and unsettling. Perhaps the creepiest moment: "Eternal Ice," which reworks the melody of the Christmas carol standard "Silent Night" into a distinctly less Christian setting, yet all while retaining a chilling, central calm." - Ned Raggett