Saturday, March 13, 2010

Signal to Noise

It's not surprising to me that The Rise doesn't get much mention. They didn't exactly play commercial sounding hard rock. They were somewhat innovative in the use of heavily processed vocals (auto tune, and more) in a hardcore/thrash/metal setting, but that would be counter-balanced by how big a debt they owed to The Refused. It's precisely that balance that makes me want to mention them, now, however. I think the thing that makes their second release "Reclamation Process" valuable, and worth your time is that they completed an equation that The Refused started.
See, The Refused were a barely passable metalcore band until they started exploring a relationship between thrash and Techno. They were doing so primarily in service to their leftist/Anarchist/Socialist/Situationist politics, and so even on their bast expression, the "Shape of Punk to Come" CD, they still sounded like a hardcore band playing around with synths. That alone was revelatory, but it wasn't complete. They didn't get into the relationship between the sounds, and they didn't use the music as a means of expressing anything deeper than the lyrics (which were plenty intellectual, but overwhelming to any input from the music). The Rise start out aping the Refused, but on Reclamation Process, the lyrics take a back seat to the sonics which blend screeching "screamo" vocals, and metallic thrashy guitars with auto tune, glitchy synth noise, samples and atonal over-processed laptop sequences. The result isn't exactly pretty, but it does make a sonic point as the electronics slowly overtake the songs. The human elements, one by one fall away- from vocals and live playing over to samples and sequences- without ever losing the abrasiveness of a hardcore punk background. In the end, not only does it presage what a band like Attack! Attack! is doing, but it completes the sonic equation presented by the Refused- what place does the human element have in music, and can the machines express anything beyond simple replication. This isn't like Gary Numan positing human-like androids emotionally lost in the electronic void. It's more like the electronic void having a conversation with a lost soul, and perhaps winning the debate. By the time the CD ends in washes of White and pink noise, you can almost understand what it's communicating. It's definitely worth pondering.