Text by Cervical Smear
The rattling and clanking shuttle bus with its peculiar little driver reminds me of the journey to Innsmouth as described by HP Lovecraft in his well-known novella. The location I am headed to is the charming Oefenbunker in the Limburg area of Holland, which borders on the (also rather Innsmouthian) outskirts of North-Rhine Westphalia. „Harsh Frequencies over Limburg II” is happening a few months after the first installment, which featured Pissoir Rouge, Chaos Cascade, Human Larvae and Scatmother. This time, Dunkelheit Produktionen is presenting the talents of Broken Walls, Moozzhead, Uncodified and Cervical Smear. The names are somewhat less prominent than the ones in the previous installment, yet somehow my hopes are even higher.
Doors open at around 8 o clock and about 20 – 30 paying customers enter, which is fairly decent in my book, but still way less than last time, where around the double amount attended. Still, the feeling is very cozy and comfortable. Hardcore fans dead set on experiencing somewhat more obscure projects, many interesting talks, people happy to pick up all kinds of goodies from the merch tables and an atmosphere of familiarity and dedication. Very pleasant indeed!
Broken Walls kicks off relatively quick, presenting well-done live Harsh Noise. Big, tall guys without any kind of mask or costume and a table full of analogue gear, loud screaching feedback and tasty metaljunk carry the presentation very well for a solid 30 something minutes. I can’t help but feel reminded of 90ies type Noise from the US and maybe Japan, where you would just pop in a CD and be treated to a plethora of sonic bliss. Curiously, the duo managed to introduce some kind of twist or structured element whenever I had the feeling that the sounds were either becoming unfocussed or getting less interesting, which was definitely a fine touch. The background video portraying mine workers from past eras also worked very well, especially when keeping in mind that it dealt with the region the lads themselves are from.
Next up is Moozzhead, and my god, did that guy rip. Nice, uncle-type guy with J-porn shirt armed with one of the shaker cans, which seem to be so prominent within the Finn scene, and a barrage of pedals delivers some of the best „no bullshit” Harsh Noise sets I have ever witnessed. Surely, most readers will be accustomed to the various releases the artist has done on some of the biggest contemporary labels and the set delivers exactly that, although the material benefits highly from the live and loud feeling and is therefore probably superior to home listening. Energetic waves run through members of the crowd, calm ecstasy is felt and Moozzhead’s ability to stay in control of his gear is definitely respectable. Maybe he even made the rest of us look a little bad in comparison, hehe… Imagine the a mixture of the finer points of Swedish classics, US blast and Finn crudity wrapped into a neat little package wrapped in porn worship.
The second half of „Harsh Frequencies over Limburg II” is dedicated to less „noisy” acts, which rely more on structure and „Industrial tropes”, so to speak. Not sure, whether this was the ideal arrangement, as a mixture between Noise assaults and structured artists may have let everyone shine just a tad more, but no harm done. Uncodified is a project I am, of course, aware of and have probably seen in the past, although my memory is blurry. This set was a rather pleasant surprise. I was anticipating something good, but the masked Italian definitely convinced everyone around. The structures reaching my ears are noisy, but still form neat song structures, which rely a lot on modulation and looping. Even some creepy vocal performance in the mix – very nice. I jokingly tell a friend that the set seems a bit as if some big name of Italian post mortem sickness had popped out of the grave and entered a sonic marriage with the possibilities granted by nowadays Heavy Industrial Noise approach. Good work!
The debut gig of Cervical Smear goes well and it is kind of hard to comment on it myself. The blend of post-mortem feel and one take Power Electronics is certainly refreshing, but offers less direct punch than the piercing avalanches of the first two acts. The material ranges from feedback-driven old school material to clearer synthesizer structures with eery feel, and I guess I am pleased in hindsight. Some fans seemed pretty enthusiastic and the set went off as planned.
All in all, it was a great night in Limburg. If forced at gunpoint, I would say that this installment was superior to the first „Harsh Frequencies over Limburg”, simply due to the bolder arrangement of artists and the tasty mixture between diverse styles, showcasing once again the broadness of Industrial / Noise / Power Electronics culture. All parties involved seemed highly dedicated and all acquaintances were very present. The scene seems more fragmented than it was in the 2010 era, when I attended concerts more enthusiastically, and some may think that the focus has shifted more to the less confronting and more „social media friendly” branch of Noise, but „Harsh Frequencies over Limburg II” proves to me that there is still significant merit in this highly multi-faceted scene. Maybe even more than before…?
Video footage of the Harsh Frequencies: