KK Null
Oxygen Flash

I’ve always considered myself an open minded music fan. While admittedly, I have always most enjoyed those artists who are innovative and creative while still focusing on song craft which is coherent and relatively accessible, I have also always had a yen for the off-the-wall and experimental. John Zorn making his sax sound like a duck having a seizure? Sure. Ambient artists looping bleeps and bloops for aeons? I’ll take it. Field recordings of field mice being field stripped? Just try to stop me. However, I have always drawn the line at noise, and by noise I mean noise, not my dad yelling at me to turn down that noise, not bands using noise as a layered effect in their music, actual capital ‘n’ Noise as a pure genre. Can’t deal with it. No sir. The absurdity of listening to something like Merzbow might in fact be the high concept point of listening to Merzbow, but it is in no way my definition of a good time.

For that reason, despite being a fan of Zeni Geva, the experimental hardcore band for whom Mr. Null plays guitar, sings and composes, I have had no interest in his solo releases and felt considerable apprehension when this release hit my review pile. However, to my considerable surprise and even delight, I find myself absolutely enjoying Oxygen Flash on a few different levels. First, I am relieved at what the album is not, as in, it is not an endless loop of metal grating on metal pitched to varying frequencies, which is what most of this genre sounds like to me. Secondly, this leads to the realization that this release is not Noise as a pure genre, rather Null takes noises and actually mixes them with bonafide notes and tones in something that oftentimes resembles real albeit abstract composition. His pieces move, they have dynamics and he uses his multifarious knobs, pedals, buttons and faders to create actual textures, yes sometimes harsh, but often inviting, frequently intriguing, and they are – here’s where the surprise and delight come in – actually a lot of fun to listen to.

The fun is of a futurist nostalgic sort, the selection and placements of sounds on the album play as a soundtrack to a very young, immature but imaginative science fiction fantasy – something that brings me back to the time, a long time ago, in a galaxy 20 exits up the highway; when my parent’s couch was an intergalactic cruiser, the living room – the universe, and I had mentally immersed myself in a world of lasers, accelerators, malfunctioning robots, distress signals, photon torpedos and the like. It is in this sense that my connection with this material becomes personal, as if you had stuck eight-year-old me in front of Mr. Null’s pile of electronics, the same sounds might have come out, or have wanted to come out. Of course, they wouldn’t have, and thirty-one year old me can appreciate the aptitude and creativity with which the artist harnesses these varied sonic elements to create atmosphere and narrative, something that is as jarring and disorienting as it is curiously attractive and even, dare I say it, catchy. Having little to no context in this genre or in KK Null’s discography, I of course have no idea whether my reaction to this album is what he was going for, or what I was supposed to feel listening to it, but fuck it – for a little while, and for the first time in decades, I strapped on my jet-pack, my arms became laser cannons, liquid metal flowed through my veins and I engaged in total interstellar cosmic warfare with my often boringly adult existence, and for that reason alone, I found tremendous value in this particular listening experience.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by John Gnesin
October 29th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: Justin

    noise music is awesome, you’re missing out if you write off the entire genre.


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