Scott C. Candey sonically explores the plague with this diseased 7″ slab o’ vinyl, Pest Maiden, on the always entertaining Troniks label out of Berkeley, California. But the caustic sounds here seem as much inspired by a plague from the past, as prognosticating one for our future: the multi-layered devastation of “All Fall Down” is threaded with splintered bone needles that dig into the sonically dense body of the Armageddon machine, a machine that grinds everything within its path, devouring all life, spreading infection. The sound is like the constant sear of lava, like the skin eating radiation of the nuclear aftermath, each scorched layer confirming imminent extinction. The subcutaneous hum of “The Watchman, The Visited & The Under-Sexton” signals that now we are in the body of the Armageddon machine, subject to digestive acids, the flesh-melting radiation radiating with electronic virulence, the machine-breathing–until the infection turns on the host, and blood pours from the crater-like pores of the machine. It is the beginning of perpetual night. Gruntsplatter specialize in layer upon layer upon layer of noise that, when peeled, reveal Scott’s catastrophic intentions: complete sonic annihilation. For the lucky few to have received the initial pressing of this gem, a bonus cassette was included, three tracks, over 55 minutes more of destructive music; of note, the stealthy navigation through the nuclear windstorm of “A Hasty Grave,” a windstorm that ravages everything it touches. How appropriate! (JCS: 8) JCS
GRINDING INTO EMPTINESS
The prolific Mr. Scott Candey is back again on the Troniks label, this time with his key solo project, GRUNTSPLATTER. Pest Maiden is two pieces of back-to-back, cold, dark ambience inspired by the widespread horror and pandemonium surrounding the viscous plague years of the middle-ages. Candey creates a thick, haunting atmosphere that almost lets you taste the cold, musty air. The most disconcerting aspect is how comfortable it actually feels. “All Fall Down” is like a soundtrack to the carnage, riddled with faint, deathly screams that attempt to burrow up through the soundscapes that stretch over the entire track. These voices are contrasted by a steady, soothing drone that seems deceptively calm… “The Watchmen, The Visited & the Under-Sexton” is the aftermath, like swarms of flies lighting on strewn remains. Eerie tones envelope the darkness, with a layered, slightly more abrasive feel than Side A. Pest Maiden is definitely short and sweet, and though it’s a fully realized, conceptual 7″ it almost seems like a teaser single released before an LP. If only that were the case.
Well well, GRUNTSPLATTER on this new release have reached the level of which was hinted at on previous recordings, now being a fully fledged contender to the heavy weights of the Death Industrial genre. The first thing which is evident is in regards to the clarity of the recording which has more breadth and atmosphere, steering clear of being partially muddied and one dimensional. Fiery storming atmospherics make up the first track “All Fall Down” intermixed with singular sustained notes, distant tortured voices and some hefty non-descript bass rumblings. Quite ominous overall, mainly due to the track having a very solid width and decent depth to the sound spectrum. Side B (“The watchman, The Visited & The Under-Sexton”) has an even greater level of atmospherics, intermixing echoed factory type Death Industrial with more dark droning elements. Sweeping through various phases the sound textures rise and fall in a subdued yet heavily threatening manor, being akin to listening to a hurricane muffled by bunker walls. Housed in a cover with suitably bleak imagery & text this makes a very nice taster to the full length debut CD to be released on Crowd Control Activities early in 2000. Look out…
8/10 – [Troniks] The slick dark grey on black layout with aged illustrations/text regarding the plague had me drooling in an instant! Sonically this begins with “All Fall Down”, leading off quietly rumbling, suggestive of impending doom with subtle tortured screams blended into the background – repetitive but highly effective. Towards the end there?s a massive buildup which drops out to fade the screaming, talk about leaving a mark! The B-side, “The Watchmen, The Visited, & the Under-Sexton” is slightly harsher with feedback wavering in and out with machinated hums/whirrs. Also tastefully done with a slow build and bass heavy mix. This material comes highly recommended. This makes for a great EP, satisfying without being the least bit boring. I think you?ll be hearing the name Gruntsplatter more and more? This particular 7″ is numbered out of a limited edition of 250, so make a move! [Notable tracks: both are excellent]
“Pest Maiden” is a 7” by the San Francisco based death industrial solo project Gruntsplatter, released on the, also SF based, Troniks label (which is run by the man behind Lefthandedecision, whose last CD was released on Gruntsplatter’s label Crionic Mind…). Gruntsplatter is a very promising newcomer of the American dark industrial scene, and such a release is always a nice thing to feed your ears with. Here comes two nice tracks of bleak but somehow menacing industrial. “All Fall Down” is based on some kind of distorted “windy” drone, and feature some creepy screams samples in the background, as well as some other noisy details all throughout the song. Very calm but chilly, this is a nice track, presenting well Gruntsplatter’s cold atmosphere. “The Watchmen, the Visited and the Under-Sexton”, on the other side, sounds less distorted but feature more sounds: still a “wind” of cold noises, something that could possibly be derived from church choirs, and a couple of very distant tones anad beats. This song, less straightforward than “All Fall Down”, is also more pleasant. Very sad, it’s a great track, even by Gruntsplatter standards. “Pest Maiden” is a nice and enjoyable 7” from a very talented project. Of course, it’s a bit short, featuring only two songs, and has the risk to become only an item for fans and collectors. Still, it’s a nice initiative and features very good cold atmospheres. – Nicolas
All Fall Down starts as a windswept soundscape. A feeling that persists, though other sounds can be heard, crying out beneath. As Pest Maiden is a reference to the Black Plague as represented by the flea on the cover, so is “all fall down” a line from a popular nursery rhythm stemming from that period of time and a direct reference to the plague. A groaning loop comes in, pulsing motion beneath the surface, dying out to leaves only the cries. Flipping the 7″ we have The Watchman, The Visited and The Under Sexton, creating a similar sound, though the scrape is a little heavier and grittier. There is a surging darkness and a pulsing siren – making this more of an intense piece. Progressing, The Watchman goes beyond suggestion, bristling in its uneasiness without ever having to resort to a straight assault. The first 50 copies of the Pest Maiden 7″ also come with a 3 track cassette. This continues the theme – Permeating Tissue starting the first side with suggestion of the plague’s course through the body. This loops a couple of pronounced scraping layers, sheer sounds rising as slow spikes from the bass edged pulse of the main loop. This track seems to keep to the same format as the 7″ – establishing an atmosphere and maintaining it. Permeating Tissue has a crackling electronic vibe, progression only intensifying this sensation. As the title suggests this is a permeating sound, long and invasive. When the plague has finished permeating your flesh and you’d done the whole ring-a-ring-a-roses all fall down, all that remained was a A Hasty Grave. The mark of the plague on doorways and wind sweeps the streets while the cart is loaded with bodies, rumbling down the street. The wheels scrape a little under the increasing weight. You can hear the flies around the hole that has been dug – the plague moving faster than you can deal with. The earth is thrown in as you flip the tape and Finally Silent starts with the core rumble of Gruntsplatter sound. A wavering distortion, with milder sounds buried within – elements of metallic edges and smoother bass. Sparks fly off the core rumble and we can hear rusty squeals. The real variation is in the textures of the sound – the noise element ever present and requiring exploration and a use of volume.
Woah, this is excellent material. Cold and desolate soundscapes, to either plot a murder, or murder to yourself. Atmospheric, laid back, deep and haunting cold winds and echoes mixed with a bit of a harsher element, (only on side 2), to create a great apocalyptic sound track. This is a very fine release, and slightly limited.
KDVIATIONS “Spring 00”
This great little two-track 7″ from Gruntsplatter shows him exploring more ambient territory than his previous work on split CDs with Ruhr Hunter and Slowvent. “All Fall Down” has a calm, flowing sound to it, with a slow rhythm buried deep amid all the layers of mildly distorted ambience and horrific samples of people apparently in great pain. The B-side, “The Watchman, the Visited, and the Under-sexton” is more dynamic, with the occasional churning rhythm and bursts of cavernous roars. I dig it! Limited to 250 copies.
WORM GEAR #9
Limited to just 250 copies with only the first 50 accompanied by a three-track cassette, this is an incredible release of dark, rumbling noise ambient horror. Using the Black Plague of medieval Europe as it’s theme, Pest Maiden tells a story of grief and fear by encouraging the listener’s own imagination to fill in the pictures of shut doors with black crosses painted upon them, muffled cries coming from within, rats the only creatures moving on the cobblestone streets. A-side’s “All Fall Down” utilizes the sampled sounds of weeping together with a monstrous noise – the roar of pestilence-ridden winds sweeping through now-empty towns, bringing the stench of decay and the weak cries of those now almost dead. “The Watchman, The Visited & The Under-Sexton,” on the B-side, is every bit as intense, perhaps even more so. This is the post mortem darkness enveloping, coming in massive waves that drown out the faint but ever-present voices of the dead that surround you. Headphones are recommended, as is high volume. The cassette, which is most likely long gone by now, features three long tracks, two on the first side and one on the second. These tracks tend to be of a more repetitive, meditative nature than those on the vinyl. Side 1’s “Permeating Tissue” is built upon a repeating figure that seems to do just what the title says – permeate your very tissues. The second track, “A Hasty Grave,” ties together well with the 7″ with the use of more wind-like sounds, creating a dark but almost relaxing feel. The high point is side 2’s 25½-minute long “Finally Silent,” a drifting piece to carry you off into that finally restful slumber. The packaging, particularly the vinyl’s, is in itself worth the meager price, but the sounds contained herein are simply astounding. This is the sound of the Plague triumphant. An awesome release – in my opinion, Gruntsplatter’s best to date. Those interested are, however, advised to move fast ’cause it’s almost gone…
Dark haunting electronics from California, kinda reminds me of a LUSTMORD CD I have. This is great stuff and it’s limited to 250 copies so get yours soon!
IN THE FENCE OF REALITY
(File under : Darker than the bubon that grew up in your neck this week) From the Tronik vault, PACrec reissue a very obscure release from this West Coast infamous act for the best I guess. I really can’t imagine that some parts of this was originally released on a tape limited to 50 back in 1999. Five years later justice is due thankfully from one of the best label in noise nowadays. This one I is comprise of 5 tracks that was originally done on a 7″ and a tape. The structure of most of the tracks are similarly the same and as the Luasa Raelon PAC also released recently, the power is in the quality of the music (or noise, see!) Most of the track are very repetitively pounding with a sharp razor ambience that will raise your hair. I got a particularly personal preference for the last track that got a very intense harsh vibe through it’s big 25 minutes of harsh “silence.” I guess there’s few noise project that can handle a sense of dramatic ambience with a high degree of harsh noise. That is something that should be known more, but I guess the name Gruntsplatter. So this is really justice due to this beautiful release to been more available for now. The mastering job was also done by Thomas Garrisson who actually did another beautiful sound job here and the artwork was done by Scott Candey and looks like most of his other ones. So this is a mandatory one for those who need tension and loudness in their life takes note, weak people, got out of here!
7/10 – The disc may contain a mere five tracks, but the sum is a massive hour-long journey into some of Gruntsplatter’s earlier dark ambient landscapes – a re-release of the 1999 limited edition 7″ and cassette of the same name that existed in mere runs of 250 and 50 respectively, all remixed and remastered for your listening pleasure. The shorter two tracks from the 7″ are interspersed between the much longer three cuts from the cassette, beginning with the minimal and persistent plod of “Permeating Tissue”: 13+ minutes of tactfully repetitive rumbles and hums with just a little bit of grimy texture seeping in, gradually thinning out in its final minutes with very little significant variation otherwise. “All Fall Down” follows, leading off by quietly rumbling over a tortured sobbing subtly blended into the background – repetitive but highly effective. “A Hasty Grave” hits nearly 17 minutes and is another murky and repetitious piece, with a bit more cascading motion, but still focused around low-end tones with ominous atmospheric characteristics. Next is “The Watchmen, the Visited & the Under-Sexton”, which gets slightly more intricate with textured high-end tones wavering in and out against machinated hums/whirrs with more of a gruff bite. “Finally Silent” then ends things off with more than 25 minutes of material, immediately fading in with a thicker and more distorted (though not very harsh) drone, while eerie treble mingles in and out of the picture at scarce moments. This is yet another very consistent and almost hypnotic piece, but its faintly grittier edge is a nice touch. The sound is of course a little thicker and rawer than Gruntsplatter’s more recent work, but that really doesn’t detract much at all. In fact, it could be argued that, despite possessing less clarity, the rough edge adds a lot to the bleak aesthetic of the material. The CD comes in a black and white slipcase with layered artwork in the usual Gruntsplatter vein, along with a quote on the back cover from “A Journal of the Plague Years”, which of course applies to the theme of the material. This is a solid re-release for sure. The two tracks from the impeccable 7″ are my favorites, and it’s very nice to see this criminally limited edition material back in print on a more accessible format. Fans of the project should certainly find this worthwhile. Here’s to continuing the wait for the next Gruntsplatter full-length!
Having only become acquainted with Gruntsplatter through The Organ Harvest compilation, I was fairly surprised after having spun this re-edition of Pest Maiden, mainly because the acrid and gritty facet explored throughout the majority of the aforementioned release has almost no connection at all with the droning sonicscapes of this album. Thus, instead of searing walls of thick noise, we are presented with a vast amount of prolonged sounds pieced together in layers above a continuous earthly tone that stretches towards unfathomable depths. The ominous and ubiquitously oppressing wall of sound is greatly reminiscent of the atmosphere created by Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”, as Professor Lidenbrock’s party descended into the bowels of the Earth through the crater of Sneffells Yokul. Then again, the vastly deserted locations explored throughout this sonic ordeal might as well resemble the dead-inhabited European villages of the Middle Ages, whose populations were almost entirely decimated by the vermin’s deathly breath. In fact, apart from the sounds that inhabit those cities of the dead, the only living manifestations are those of the very bringers of doom, whose yelping shrieks are but a faint reminder of what brought about such a grim affair. Even more interesting is to detect the subtle changes in tone from track to track, which go unnoticed when experienced “normally”; slight evolutions from distinguishable notes to amorphous sounds that represent the ineffable withering and decay of all things natural or artificially animated. Therefore, it is hardly shocking to verify the weakening of one’s state of alert as the album draws to an inevitable finale, especially because it is approached in a grossly exaggerated fade-out that is essentially of a hypnotic nature. Although this album does not sound as I expected it too, mainly because of the skewed perspective enforced by the only other output of this band I had ever experienced, the overall appreciation of Pest Maiden is perhaps even more positive than the initial impression, as it is verily a capital representation of the deathlike quietude brought about by the bubonic plague, and that alone is enough for me to deem it as an enticing and alluring release.
VITAL WEEKLY (extracted from a review of multiple releases from the label)
Although Gruntsplatter isn’t exactly new either, it’s a new name for me. They had previous releases on Relapse Records, but ‘Pest Maiden’ compiles his early 7″ and a cassette release on Troniks from 1999. This is noise of a different order. It’s not some over the top feedback howl, but darker than dark atmospheric doom death rattle. Everything moves in the darker edges of the sound spectrum – just much low end, a little bit of mid end and no high end. Moving slowly forward in these pieces, like some alien beast, just landed on earth and seeking human life in order to destroy it. Music like that of Gruntsplatter reminded me of Brighter Death Now or some other Swedish groups along the lines of that, which is good. Horror B-movie stuff here.
ABSOLUTE ZERO MEDIA
Where do we begin with this well I guess literally at the beginning this is old material from a 7″ and Cassette Release. Its a Bit more aggressive and active then the newer material in which Scott now tries to build what i call Death industrial to a climax. It maybe earlier work but none less impressive. With the 1st track it seems to be a bit more analog synth heavy then anything Gruntsplatter has done since as well. Maybe I’m insane and I don’t doubt that but this release seems to have more to do with Black Industrial/ Ambient then Death Industrial . I would put this release in the same place as early MZ412 or even Some of the darker Schloss Tegal Moments. The re-mastering work is top notch my Thomas of Control/Misanthropic Studios. Over the 5 length Track Gruntsplatter creates a very dark and unsettling journey and I look forward to more work old or new to hear.
I don’t know anything about this guy except he swims at one mph in frozen butter in an pink orca suit. This cd is like a test record for sonar lovers. I also get the idea that this might be the follow up to the “Eraserhead” soundtrack, ” Eraserhead Reloaded Underwaterspace”. I have to shake the hand of this cd a few time for calming me down when I was looking for my keys to get out of my house. What are house keys when the slowest drag race engine is driving into a wall of cat food and chocolate over the course of 24 minutes? There’s one track on here that sounds like some guy (Gruntsplatter probably) hits a gong slowly, it echoes into infinity before finding backwards light sources. OK! I’m sold, this is a fine, drag your muddy bellbottoms through the moon dust over the course of a year release.
Recorded way back in 1999, Gruntsplatter’s Pest Maiden 7″ and cassette release may not have made much of an impact on the noise-loving public (perhaps due the limited nature of its release), but it is a fine album deserving of attention. Thus, Troniks/PACrec has made the split-up release one monstrous album and Scott E. Candey has remixed the material especially for the occasion. The album consists of three long pieces and two shorter, these serving more as setup compositions for the giants that follow them. “Permeating Tissue” is a strange beginning; a vacuous low-end loop cycles over a series of atmospheric bubbles and gasps for roughly thirteen minutes- the result isn’t boredom, but a strange trance ensues that covers the rest of the album in a blackness only a subject like the plague could evoke. In fact, the rest of the album seems to issue a blackness that chokes every sound Candey decided to use. “The Watchman, The Visited, and The Under-Sexton” might have been a medieval chant culled from an old monastery still sitting in the mountains of France, but instead is sounds like possession, an incendiary demon ripping apart every holy symbol and fracturing the physical body until the soul begins to bleed from the bones. Five minutes may not register as much time for a noise-maker to establish such a vivid mood in a piece, but Candey pulls it off with grace. The sounds on the album all feel old, the static and hissing producing the effect of being in a library at times. This could very well have been a recording of the plague years, though the frequent spacious elements used on the record give it a mystical air, as though a Masonic library would be far more appropriate. “Finally Silent” is the 25 minute closer and, true to its name, squelches the previous four tracks in its size and stature. Screaming, scraping, and absolutely dying to be released from the terror the album emanates, “Finally Silent” emasculates and devours everything, leaving a tiny quiet place in its wake that feels less like relief and more like desperate loneliness, a tiny figure waiting to die. – Lucas Schleicher
This is a re-issue release of material from a 7” and cassette released in 1999 on Troniks. It’s nice to see some of this material is becoming available again for those of us who missed it the first time around. This is the longest PACrec release I have heard clocking in at about an hour.
This release ranges from gritty dark ambient to death industrial soundscapes with a decent production quality considering it is ripped from vinyl and cassette releases that are over 5 years old. Some of the tracks (the longer ones) tend to be a little slow, but I would guess they suffer a bit from the quality issue. The first track “Permeating Tissue” is probably my favorite here as the sound of a rhythmic repeating synth jab is crisp and clear throughout. Don’t expect too much change but this is industrial let it pound your head until you feel you’re about to go insane.
“Finally Silent” is a close second that has several more changes but more of a lo-fi drone as its base. This is mixed with walls of feedback and synth swells that wash by. There is a subtle rhythm to this but it is often subdued by the other elements that appear throughout the track. This track increases in activity and variety as it nears the end, which is a nice move.
The two shorter tracks on here I’m guessing are from the 7” and are about the same caliber as the longer tracks. The material fits together well. Something about these tracks just fail to grab me in a “wow this is excellent” way and I would guess that’s a result of the recording quality, but this is a definite must have for any Gruntsplatter fan out there as it’s solid material and a little piece of Gruntsplatter history. The packaging is a simple matte sleeve with black and white overcrowded artwork on it. Fits the music pretty well and works for a good retrospective release.
Originally released as a 7” record and following as a MC and finally as a CD on Troniks, limited to 1000 copies, ‘Pest Maiden’ has finally fallen into my hands. And, my friends, if you want to visit a world of desolate, gelid and unnerving purely electronic landscapes, this is your record. Scott Candey admits he has ‘embraced’ the name of ‘Noise ambient’ his compositions have been given. Many of his works are thematic and inspired by diverse ideas or situations that, if you are ready to fill your mind with anticipation and images, can sometimes be eerily found through the web of sounds he uses.
In this case, ‘Pest Maiden’ is accompanied by a text from Daniel Defoe’s ‘A Journal of the plague years’. Through titles like ‘Permeating Tissue’, A hasty Grave’ or ‘The Watchman, the visited and the under sexton’ Gruntsplatter brings us his soundtrack for disaster. The record opens with an unnerving calmness that is creamily extended through looping. A thick, crackling noise that sounds as if a circuit has been broken in the projecting of an old film and it keeps on going round and round, over its axis, in a never ending, useless circle. Every once in a while a following sound is introduced and taken away. Never in an aggressive way, always subtly following the straight yet winding line proposed by the base. It is followed by ‘All fall down’, a much more tragic composition. The sounds of songs, voices, cries and moans are muffled by the overpowering noise of a strong wind-like body. Some beeps and frequencies take the listener into the 21st century world were he comes from and tears him away slightly from the disaster that is being heard.
‘A Hasty Grave’ returns to the calmness found in the first composition, with a vast emptiness sounding corroding wind. The composition slowly grows though, and a clawing sound that comes from the background makes its way towards the spotlight. When it arrives it transforms into a clear, biting high-pitched melodious sound. It is extended until the noise around it starts crawling onto it and becomes the new main character. The entire contrast makes a heavily emotional feeling of defeat and sadness. At a moment, the high sound is taken from the composition and all that remains is the foggy atmospheric noise. ‘The Watchman, The Visited and The Under-Sexton’ picks up the ambient noise and takes it one step further, growing and evolving into a strong sound that breathes heavily down your neck while you try to escape through a dark, twisting passage-way. The noises gain intensity and explode into the song – not in an aggressive, ear splitting way, but more as the noise an overflowing damn would make before catastrophe. The high pitched sound returns, only for some seconds, and then is lost into a frightening, tense stillness. ‘Finally silent’ marks the end of this voyage. It is cruel and much harsher than any of the previous compositions. It marks purification by fire. The crackling, mechanical sound undulates through the vastness, approaching and embracing, and moving away again. It becomes rougher and more hostile with time, while it also becomes more automatic and start becoming familiar to the listener. Around the 15th minute, when one has almost become accustomed to the screeching sound, it suddenly gains another level of intensity, surprising and menacing. About three minutes later, it attacks. The crackling noise is almost completely shaded by an explosive sound and it falls into the background and changes. The sound becomes much hollow and detached. Towards the end, the frequencies become higher and higher in tone, yet lower and lower in volume. Finally the composition is dragged into oblivion.
If any of you would like to be taken by the hand through a world of suffering and pain, go ahead and purchase ‘Pest Maiden’, put the headphones on, close your eyes and let your imagination fly.