Metal Forest

A review of the Ax album, or "I never met a block of harsh noise I didn’t want to call ‘daddy’". This album is called Metal Forest because that is what it sounds like. The first track, ‘Kortex’, even calls to mind the sound of tin rain falling through steel leaves. This makes my job easier. I can simply say ‘this album sounds like the title’ and get on with some biographical stuff.

Anthony DiFranco – who is Ax. Ax is him, so’s Ethnic Acid, so’s JFK – has been making harsh electronic noise since the 80s. He’s a member of Ramleh and also part of the live make-up of Phillip Best’s Consumer Electronics. So that’s him and what he does. I’m going back to what the album sounds like now. I don’t think it’s necessary to know all this stuff.

Track three is called ‘Heavy Fluid’. Again, this is what it sounds like. Like being swamped by rancid marmalade; like waking up and realising you’ve inherited a haunted mirror; like it’s being atomised under its own weight. Is it possible to pulp something into atoms? Now it is.

‘Theme One’ is gross-out Wall Noise. The closest thing on the album to the kind of blank-eyed, nihilistic crud propagated by the likes of Werewolf Jerusalem and The Rita. I love this stuff. You can feel the weight of the hammer in your hands when you hear it. Imagine it shutting out the sound of the demons that you don’t have. Why don’t you have any demons? Because you spend all day listening to horrible noise records. It doesn’t make you better, it just makes you pure. Ghosts haunt mirrors and they don’t bother you.

The title track ‘Metal Forest’ sounds even more like a metal forest than the first track, ‘Kortex’, which I said sounds like a metal forest all that time ago. Do you remember? It’s really eerie. Like a dead body whistling or a picture of an owl with your mother’s eyes.

There are two tracks with the same title. They’re both called ‘Ax Li’. They’ve both upset my flatmate within minutes of each other. This is cause for celebration. I detest the laziness in reviewing a noise album by saying "blah, blah, blah… upset your neighbours… blah" but if it actually does upset your neighbours then what in hell are you going to do?

This album sounds really good through computer speakers. Like someone screaming through a sewn shut mouth.

I spoke to Anthony once. He was very happy that I described his music as psychedelic. It is, you know. Rather than focus on excruciating high end tones he does the opposite and wallows in crunchy mid-range and pummelling bass. This makes the album extremely useful. It makes you want to stare at it while it’s playing. It doesn’t get much more psychedelic than that. That’s the much sought after ‘sound your eyes can follow’, that is. I was on acid once. It was fucking brilliant. This album makes me want to do it again. I don’t think I’d listen to it during the trip though. I’m not stupid.

I should probably point out that this album is a collection of various bits recorded in the mid to late 90s. Does that make you want to buy it more? Didn’t think so.

There are two tracks called ‘Nova Feedback’. I love the word Nova. It means someone’s been reading William Burroughs. I understand people better if they’ve read William Burroughs. Both tracks are full of guitar. ‘Full’ in the way that a pause can be ‘full’ of meaning. ‘Full’ in the pregnant and bloated sense of the word. Like a pelican’s beak or a bus ‘full’ of school children.

‘Cluster’ is the final track. It feels like it has no ending. Like a Tibetan chorus line of robotic monks howling wordless mantras into the greying air through mouths like busted speaker grills. When steel shatters the sound goes on forever, just at such a pitch that you can’t hear it. Well now you can. And you can’t unhear it once you have. That’s just a choice you have to make, I’m afraid.

I’m going to drink more coffee and not have any breakfast. That way I can vibrate between worlds. I look on eBay and someone is selling a haunted mirror. I would like to buy it for Anthony so he can use it as an amplifier. I think, perhaps, that the world would end. I think, perhaps, that this would be a good thing.

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