Review of Freakout Modulation cd from November 2002 issue

by Tom Ridge

The varied nature if Japanese guitarist Kazuyuki K Null's output has created an air of near inpenetrability about him. Given his many switches in musical direction, it seems, the more you hear of Null, the less you know. And Nullhimself gives little away in interviews beyond the barest facts about the music. These two collaborations aren't theones to make Null a household name. They separately involve two US based avant guitarists Bill Horist and Damian Catera; Null himself is credited with guitar (on the Horist collaboration), drum machine and Nullsonic, his personalized effect board.

Interstellar Chemistry consists of 12 fairly concise pieces which combine free rock atonality with skittery electronica and modulated feedback drone. Between them, Horist and Null create a riot of noise where everything sounds blurred or bent out of shape. One recurrent theme here is displaced futurism, and the album could be a soundtrack for a machine age dystopia, where voluminous space-rock is disfigured by random interference and distorion.

The collaboration with Damian Catera is the result of a studio-based dialogue, whereby improvised Nullsonic sounds are modified and restructured in the studio by Catera, adding more guitar parts, before he hands it back to Null and so on. As befits the album title, tracks on Freakout Modulation run longer than those on Interstellar Chemistry. And its mood is indeed more expansive, combining the monotony of machine noise with brittle sound interventions, while in the process of whipping their noises onto energised peaks of collision. In all, the Catera collaborationis a little looser than the Horist set; it is also more uneven. Its centerpiece is a 16 minute spacerock opus which justifies the album's freakout tag. Finally, the duo sign off with an impressive , low end blast that simulates a state of perpetual, crumbling collapse.


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