I wandered into shake-It records, on Hamilton Avenue a bit ago. Jug of milk in one hand, a $20 bill in the other, to shuffle amidst Northside’s Hipster drones in search of musical drug stimulus.
I stumbled on an excellent copy of “Receive The Flame”, a 1999/2000 release by NON, Boyd Rice’s prototypical Industrial Music and Noise project.
NON is not to be confused with NIN (Nine Inch Nails) – though one could say that Trent Reznor, eh, borrowed aspects of his aesthetic and Rice’s earlier musical shenanigans were among Reznor’s many influences (and so too with a younger Marilyn Mansion, who hanged out with Boyd prior to his later career as a singer)
Enough of history, Receive the Flame, pressed by Mute, is a rich and layered series of soundscapes, all vaguely disturbing, but none to the point of out right harshness. The pieces are instrumentals without lyrics, mostly consisting of sampled pop star voices and melodies looped over and over, extended organ drones, sampled horn, piano, violin, and flute drones, human voice snatches, and sampled processed noise blasts played in an ambient atmosphere of sound on top of sound.
The titles and linear notes betray a preoccupation with Gnosticism, the quotes from Heraclitus in particular stand out. The album art work is a series of disturbingly erotic photos, cut up and rearranges. They seem to throb with a slight air of danger, and a general theme of bondage. It manages to be tasteful and subtle.
Boyd Rice has a reputation as an abrasive, racist, harsh, and in-your-face provocateur. It bears mentioning, however, that the man’s art often displays considerable subtlety. Keeping in mind his public persona as a Social Darwinist, one gets the impression that part of his elitism is a filtering out of sorts – in other words, some people will “get it” when it comes to his art work. Others will react to his provocation.
Receive The Flame is provocative, but instead of hammering the audience, it manages to seduce, and slowly slice into you like a scalpel. A barely liminal slice that goes deeper than you initially expect.
The album manages to be exquisitely beautiful, disquieting, and dreamlike, all at the same time. There is a slight air of menace under some of the pieces, it is a challenging record to listen to, and NON’s flavor of manipulated noise is an acquired taste for some. For others, however, those who naturally grow entranced to the sound of thunder, and the roar of freight trains, NON’s Receive The Flame is easy listening.
My only complaint is that the record is too short for my tastes. The pieces are quite hypnotic, and the album ends with a jarring Coda.
Of course, however, Boyd Rice does not exactly aim to please.
Since 1977 Boyd Rice and NON were at the very forefront of the Industrial Music movement, and has somehow managed to still remain relevant as an artist. This album should appeal not only to fans of the genre, but also to fans of Ambient Music.
In other words, it is recommended.
[ Click here to get Receive The Flame from Amazon.com ]