Conditions Of Acrimony
Cassette HMS036

The Quietus

April 2016

It makes a refreshing change to have so little context to digest and convey with this debut release from Himukalt. All that is known is that it is the work of Ester Kärkkäinen from Nevada who previously provided photographs for a couple of earlier releases of Helen Scarsdale Agency and has a website filled with grainy xerox images. And often I feel that is how it should be, leaving the sounds to do what they will, unpolluted by concepts, biographies or preconceptions of intent. On Conditions Of Acrimony they drop the listener into an unsheltered, blackened nest of noise, initially similar to the sort Maurizio Bianchi and MZ.412 have built, but whose sharp production values ensure subtler details remain evident and intriguing. The materials remain roughly the same throughout – layers of electric engine churn, travelling from the hum of low gears steadily turning over to hi-speed squealing violence, and get intercut with rapid, short fragments of distorted voice, often distressed or commanding. On paper it perhaps doesn’t sound so enticing, but in the hands of Kärkkäinen they’re laid with strict attention to the sounds’ qualities, where textural modulation, rhythmic editing, and theatrical panning bring her most unmusical machines to life. This is best demonstrated on ‘Without Laughter’ whose lo hums and buzzes squirm over and under each other like large deadly snakes mating, the layers forming a slowly squirming and sensuous throb, more Nurse With Wound than Non, as the smooth restlessness eventually falls into a cavernous shaft. -- Russell Cuzner