BBC: Review of Slew

When AC/DC suggested that "Rock n Roll Ain't Noise Pollution" they weren't being entirely honest. Noise (in the sense of non-pitched, extramusical sounds) is not only an essential part of Rock N' Roll (where would Hendrix or Townshend been without feedback?), it's now a genre in its own right.

John Cage felt that noise was equal to any other sound, which I suppose stopped it being 'noise' (in the sense of being unwanted or undesirable). On the other hand, the new kids on the noise scene embrace its power to annoy, excite and cleanse. Revelling in extremes of distortion, volume and frequencies that can damage your ears or even (as has sometimes been claimed) open your bowels, the work of outfits like Merzbow, Whitehouse and the like couples sonic terrorism with often dubious sadomasochistic imagery. At the other end of the scale, there's the considered feedback manipulations of Otomo Yoshihide and Kevin Drumm, or the electro-acoustics of serious composers like Luc Ferrari, Stockhausen et al. Noise is a broad church.

Thomas Dimuzio is kind of in the middle, straddling the worlds of electro-acoustics, avant electronics and free improv in the same way that John Oswald and Bob Ostertag do. This CD brings together work recorded for various compilations over the last fourteen years and suggests that Dimuzio is just as important (and possibly more rewarding to listen to) than John and Bob.

Without the conceptual baggage of Oswald or the explicit politicking of Ostertag, Dimuzio is left with just his sounds. Whether generated by musicians like avant rockers Dr Nerve or the late cellist Tom Cora or extracted from shortwave radios, feedback, guitars or field recordings, Dimuzio treats them with care. Dr Nerve are transformed into an amped up chamber orchestra playing Penderecki in a watery cave underneath a building site. Its lush, surprising, sensual stuff and at under six minutes, criminally short.

Elsewhere Dimuzio gives us glacial drones, the random fuzz of shortwave radios or the feral blasts of junkyard electronics; insectoid scratches, blasts of clipped distortions and the forlorn clang of an abused piano. Like the fantastically underrated Mnemonists, his work has a narrative, filmic tug that'll draw you in to its dark corners, ears alert. Intermittently brilliant and rarely less than entertaining. —Peter Marsh, BBC