To mark their fifth birthday Belfast`s Touch Sensitive Records bring the noise. It`s a largely ambient fanfare, but a challenging, sometimes abrasive, one, which wouldn’t be out of place on the always pioneering Pan.
Under the title Wacker That, the celebrations open with Radio Weirdo`s VHS-3. A ghostly lullaby played on a Wurlitzer housed in a haunted dancehall. Ai Messiah`s Shadow Bank cuts up orchestral broadcasts into beatless but industrial musique concrete. Stuck together with big gobs of black gooey bass. Cherrystones` Silk Maker takes a couple of video nasties (Driller Killer and Maniac?) dancing to Daniele Baldelli at Club Cosmic. Gets `em well stoned to car alarm “melodies” and a music of metallic decay. Knives being sharpened. Monkeys being wrenched. Fears` Bled White is plain disturbing. Though there is beauty ringing at the far edges of its soundscape of drone and distorted vocals. Bloom`s Mystery Setting though takes the brutality biscuit. Its collage of automaton booms and crashes, its animal bellows and groans, an atrocity exhibition, stuttered and staggered in machine-gun-MIDI`d delay. This is followed by the relative calm of Documenta`s Selene. A psychedelic 6-string symphony that takes a damn fine shot at mating Spiritualized`s Pure Phase with My Bloody Valentine’s cathartic wall of tremolo`d feedback. My favourite piece however is, unsurprisingly, the more accessible Saol Nua. The solar flare of Barry “Boxcutter” Lynn’s Manuel Gottsching and Steve Hillage-esque guitar treatments and overdubs.
Amidst all this “ambience” Elaine Howley`s Song For Mary Black is pop. Dedicated to the Dublin-born singer, its a folk standard deconstructed, stretched, squeezed, and made to fit a 21st Century r&b template. And then there’s Autumns` Loosen Up. Steely, racing EBM from Christian Donaghey`s obsidian Saturday night fever. Creating large arcs and sparks using Front 242, Nitzer Ebb`s power tool bag, but also applying Moebius, Plank and Neumeier`s attention to detail. Phasers, lasers, set on stun. Electric dominatrix whip cracking, glowing like a taser.