Conditions Of Acrimony
Cassette HMS036

Chain D.L.K.

December 2016

Himukalt is the work of Nevada-based artist Ester Kärkkäinen, who also does interesting visual work with Xerox machines. With a title like Conditions of Acrimony, it sounds like we’re in for a whole lot of love songs. Or not. The label describes this as "exhaustive, claustrophobic, and cryptic, these lacerated (de)compositions address collapsed psychological states that dislocate the body, the self, and the spirit into horror, fear, doubt, hostility. Such have marked the acme for the most virulent strains of power electronics and industrial decay (e.g. Puce Mary, Anenzephalia, Maurizio Bianchi, Maria Zerfall, etc.).” Let’s see if it lives up to the hype. We open up with pulsating noise and extremely distorted voice. Indeed, you could put this in the same ballpark as Genocide Organ, with its heavy static and overdriven bass. Next up, we have staccato voice snippets with pounding percussion and grinding noise. Himukalt definitely comes from the slow-moving school of power electronics and there is a good mix of high pitched whine and low bass rumble. "Without Laughter” closes out the side with a much more subdued track. This is like listening to a noise concert from outside the venue with short moments of louder sound. The overall feel is that of standing outside a power plant, with a menacing hum alerting you to the dangers inside as a helicopter circles around and over you repeatedly, closer and closer each time. This builds in intensity until you think that it is going to completely turn loose. But as quickly as it arrives, it is gone, with only the sounds of distant voices as evidence that it was even there. If I had to describe this track in one word, I would be "tension.” Seriously, not a lot of artists know how to pull this off, and this track alone is worth the price of admission. Flipping the tape over, we get pulsing drone with what sounds like a processed impact wrench sample. This gives way to ominous drone with digital tones and line hum just beneath the surface. All of this is punctuated by very short noise bursts until it becomes noisier over time. This is a nice balance of atmosphere and noise. Next up, we have rumbling bass with a man repeatedly saying "who cares? And other less intelligible things over a boiling analogue stew. The tape closes with the plea, "Please don’t call for an ambulance.” If you like noise and power electronics, this is definitely one to pick up. Bonus props for not taking the easy way out. With a title like Conditions of Acrimony, one might expect the standard violent imagery that has become almost cliché in power electronics circles, but this tape manages to portray a sense of ominousness that is more Amanita Phalloides mushroom and less serial killer. Well done. -- eskaton