Jazzfinger / Number None
Helpers and Hurters
usic built primarily from noise has been creating a whole new range of listening responses for long time now, demanding both attention and negligence and working equally well with either. Both acts on this split release (Jazzfinger with five tracks and Number None with four) work from a palette of unconventional and initially disorientating sounds that some will easily lump into the noise/drone category, but both do something more for those listeners with the time or inclination to hear it. That’s not to say that Helpers and Hurters is a struggle to get through or an exercise in chin stroking; it’s anything but.
Both acts here prove themselves to be on the cusp of Wolf Eyes-style crossover fame, bending some familiar unfamiliar sounds into strange mini-musical lo-fidelity autopsies. In less capable hands the raw elements of Jazzfinger’s “Hurtsville is Here” might have ended up being just another racket/experiment in radio manipulation, but the duo subtly drag much more from under the charcoal surface. Dispatches from popular culture are teased through time as the found (and quickly lost) sounds trip in and out of focus.
Those that expect noise acts to be belligerent Eustachian tube terrorists get short shrift here with only Number None’s first blast “Dump Fuck” heading for all out aural war. A sooty sine wave builds gathering dust and noise alongside it, crushing squealing rats as it ploughs through brick and flesh, turning into a relentless masticating cloud as nasty as a hung-over Merzbow belch. In short, “Dump Fuck” is a hurter.
Number None bring a more mortal touch to a couple of songs, lacing the human voice into “Teaching Children About Feelings” and stretching it onto the rack for “Drained Angel.” The former buries a melody alive in the deformed wash of grainy sound while a voice (or is it a synth line?) crawls into clarity; the latter appears to be aurally recreating the cover of Burned Mind complete with Raven calls. “Drained Angel”'s creaky throated moan rises into the cry of a full-voiced occultist plugged into the mains circuit.
Jazzfinger’s “My Window Runs Beside me” and “The Old Country” cover similar territory with pieces of immersed piano fighting for breath surrounded by contours of ubiquitous static while melody takes brief sojourns from the songs. “Summer Insect Strut” is well positioned at the start, as it’s the easiest slide into Jazzfinger’s sound world, warming up into the buzz with the analogue of a wavering organ. Picture Boards of Canada stuck in a high rise flat for inspiration, as opposed to wandering their bonny highlands, if only it didn’t end in such a sharp edit.
Both bands seem to have become premature experts in creating tension: Jazzfinger’s “Out in the Street” steers an almost bass (or guitar) line with feedback threatening to blow the song’s engine out, all the time dragging nerves on a shredder. Number None take “A Person Who Really Exists” and generate something otherworldly which insinuates the listener to the edge of their seat, ear to the speakers, and eyes screwed shut for a noise that never comes.
There are already (possibly untrue) rumours, which I’m happy to fuel, of a possible release for recordings of their exceptional recent live collaborations from their recent UK "Tour of the Moors" shows; fingers crossed. If Jazzfinger or Number None aim to hurt, it’s in the nicest possible way.
Reviewed by: Scott McKeating
Reviewed on: 2005-08-19