Conditions Of Acrimony
Cassette HMS036


April 2016

Himukalt seems to be more than a bit of an enigma. Other than being the solo project of Ester Kärkkäinen from Nevada, there is very little to be found online about her work. That ambiguity suits Conditions of Acrimony (her first release, at least in a public capacity) rather well though. Drawing from a diverse array of abrasive, challenging styles of music, she expertly blends order and chaos, as well as rhythm and dissonance throughout these six pieces. The cassette's opener, "Completely," certainly feels like a nod back to the early 1990s variant of industrial and power electronics championed by the likes of Tesco and Cold Meat Industry via its use of sputtering electronics and broken voice samples. She bounces the piece back and forth between this harsh rhythmic throb and wet, pulsating electronic noise before ending it on a passage of wide open static. This use of voice samples is a recurring theme throughout, often times sounding like a random grab from a transient shortwave burst or an out of tune radio broadcast, and rarely discernible as far as what is actually being said. This is very evident on "This Conflict," in which the crackling voices appear within the context of massive echoing crashes and raw, metallic scrapings. There are more pronounced expanses of drone, but as a whole it comes across like a tightly structured and organized piece. "Without Laughter" is an appropriate title for the dull hum and isolating emptiness that comprises it. As a whole Kärkkäinen keeps the piece at a slow and creepy dynamic, with some occasional jet engine like outbursts of noise to keep things from sounding too complacent. The opening of the b-side of the tape, "Tuberculosis," stands out mostly due to its less rigid structure. Rather than the slow building creepy electronics that mostly define the album, this is more of a jerky, cut-up piece of jackhammer loops and jagged surges of harsh noise. On paper it sounds not unlike the classic work of Pain Jerk, but there is a less hyperactive, more overall dour color to the sound. Sustained shimmering electronics reappear on "I Started", again paired with a throbbing low end to introduce a semblance of rhythm, continuing the clash of structure and noise. The dark closer "Please Don't Call For An Ambulance" ends the tape on a grinding note. With a heavy emphasis on the mid-range, Kärkkäinen works with exploding noises and ambient space, resulting in a bleak and unsettling conclusion. With apparently no other Himukalt releases publically, and a website that mostly just showcases Ester Kärkkäinen’s visual art, Conditions of Acrimony is an amazingly well developed, fully realize piece of unsettling noise and raw electronics. The combination of obscure sound sources and a strong sense of composition elevates her work to the quality matching the titans of these styles, such as Maurizio Bianchi, Brighter Death Now, or Anenzephalia (amongst others), without ever sounding like an attempt to emulate them, making for an extremely compelling debut. -- Creaig Dunton