CDr, Notrouble Records, 2012
My admiration for the work of 余益裔 (Yú Yìyì) is not a secret. This guy from Kaiping, Guangdong province belongs to the new generation of post-80s noisicians and, while managing his own label Notrouble Records, moves effortlessly between field recordings, minimal electronics and full-blown harsh noise. Dissociative Disorder is the name under which Yu Yiyi releases his noisiest output and, with his extremely concrete approach and compositional experience garnished by a savory penchant for HNW, he is emerging as one of the most promising voices of China’s contemporary harsh noise scene. Churning contact microphone feedbacks, ravaged shakerboxes and degraded samples are compressed by radiant distortions and crafted in slabs of noise crawling along the entire spectrum of audible frequencies. Yu Yiyi’s harsh noise compositions often conjure a world of bleak and humid dejection – a Southern China blues without much room for spacey synthetizers, rhythmic elements or cut-up anxiety: more than cases of psychic dissociation, they often sound like nightmares of a paranoiac trapped in loops of endless permutations of a discrete number of shapeshifting and ultimately unknowledgeable objects.
As of today, Mother-to-Child is one of Dissociative Disorder’s best records in terms of coherency and works as a comprehensive introduction to his already substantial discography, mostly composed of super-limited handmade releases. The handpainted CDr is housed in a opaque slim case wrapped in a folded sleeve of lucid paper printed with medical sketches and captions that illustrate a six-step abortion procedure; all in all, the artwork exudes a crisp goregrind flavor, as the title Mother-to-Child seems quite ironic when paired with titles about infections and partial birth abortion. Pregnant, opening the record, sets the mood perfectly with a kind of disquieting harsh minimalism: a squeaking rubbery sound, tinted by a slight reverb, creaks nervously under the pressure of craving fingers – pregnancy represented sonically as the squirmy rattling of an alien-like substance trapped in an empty chamber, a dreary and disheartened rendition of budding life itself or just the impregnation of noise, so to say, by the simplest manipulation of sound. Overstretched, the elastic sound swells, blisters and eventually gives way, collapsing in the twenty-three minute long title track, a controlled and slowly morphing wall of physical distortion, oscillating between a solid body of middle frequencies and the crumbled ruins of its own high pitches cascading loosely onto the rounded bass basement. The assault is not flattened in the frantic research of pounding volumes and opts to keep the layers well defined, with the sound sources (a rattling shakerbox and some looped fragments of melodic samples) surfacing occasionally in the second half of the song; overall, the track strides forth with a hypnotic and entrancing pace. Unfortunately the following suite, Unknow Infection, does not keep the record flowing and gets mired in a half-hour long bog of lo-fi wall noise, slight variations on a dull theme happening behind a muffled screen and some pleasurable spurts of distorted hiss that arrive too late to save the whole effort from mediocrity. It is a pity that almost half of Mother-to-Child is botched by a not-so-brilliant slop of harsh noise since Partial Birth Abortion, the ten-minute closing track, brings the level back to the promising intuitions of the first half: a Kevin Drummesque droning synth soars slowly from the uneasy background of crackling silence and explodes in a sudden burst of pulsating distortion, followed by trails of wavering delays, while the siren-like sinewave continues its glassy trajectory, unruffled, at the borders of the recursive mayhem.
Far from perfect, yet impressive in its coherence and low-key mastery of the tools of the trade, Mother-to-Child is a recommended listening for devotees of slow and murky harsh noise, and one of the first steps of a promising career in filthy sound worship.