Review Summary: Noise rock, but without the 'rock'.
In August 2017, I discontinued one project under which I had been releasing music. As a way of “mourning” the demise of this project, I compiled all the small samples and recordings I made but never quite used into a track. It was a way of flushing out all these unused noises. I released it and called it ‘sound dump’. None of the sounds in the track were ever meant to mesh together harmoniously. I knew that I could never do something like that and call it a real song. No respectable artist can just place noises together randomly and release it under the disguise of a serious album, right?
, the new album from a very noisy rock group called White Suns, sounds like it did that word-for-word. It is their fourth album, and their last two releases have been widely critically acclaimed, so fans know White Suns is very capable of composing some solid noise rock. For this release, though, they seem to have misplaced the ‘rock’ element. Every minute of this album is made of chopped up samples, tense feedback, extremely distorted growling drones, and haphazardly delivered vocal performances. There are no longer any pummeling drums or wailing guitars. If there are, they’ve been buried so deep into the mix that they’re indiscernible from other sounds. It is noise in the simplest sense of the word.
The way ‘Korea’ begins is a perfect demonstration of how randomly generated this album feels. The first impression Psychic Drift
gives you is a mess of discordant keyboard noises. It fades into electronic shrieks, which in turn gives way to a sloppy rhythm based on hissing tones and decaying bass hits. It’s as if each song could be divided into three or four segments, and each segment has no sounds in common with the one before or after it. Every few minutes, there is a new idea that obliterates its whole section. This makes the whole album sound disappointing and incohesive. Occasionally, a few lines of dystopian lyrics sliver through the cracks and say something irrelevant. Not only does the vocalist’s voice lack a certain harshness and maturity to make it appealing, but every time he speaks up, he doesn’t make sense. He only says a few words at a time, and those short phrases are seldom connected to each other.
For a bit under 40 minutes, White Suns try to fulfill every cliché that a noise album has. The lyrics are somewhat dark, everything is actively conflicted and lathered in several coats of distortion. There’s even a section of the song A Year Without Summer where the vocalist tries to sing over a jumbling rhythm. It doesn’t feel correct, like it’s not supposed to be there. There are some intriguing vocal manipulations around that time, but there is no merit in Psychic Drift
to make it stand out as a good noise album. It’s bad noise
, and with no apparent substance left in them, I’m worried as to where White Suns try to go from here.