Hos – 681
Out 20 November 2020.
Debut album for Hospital Productions by Iraqi-born, Canadian sound artist Rita Mikhael. Establishing with more than enough evidence the capabilities to create a palette of moods parallel to an immeasurable spectrum of sensations and experiences we, as human beings, are both hung from and bound up in.
The debut album on a record label is an exciting time for any artist. It signifies a sense of synergy between both parties involved. With fascinating additions of nuances of noise, broken beats, bent bass, mutilated melodies, each intrinsic link deeply ingrained in order to encourage the voyage onwards. This is a record to assist in the imagining of the dancefloor’s edge folding in on itself until it is but a spore in the universe; whilst also managing to make one’s body feel like a pill dissolving in water.
It’s a bond of trust bestowed upon the shoulders of the artist to deliver something significant in their history, and that standard of innovation and artistry has been reached in the canon of the label, each code and catalog number stated like a sincere stamp of approval or a seal of purposeful promise, to really augment their reputation as prolific and fearless in their support of genuinely enthralling, alternative and ambitious musical forms (Conundrum’n’bass, Electronikinetic Experimentalism, Insomniacid Haus, Algorhythm’n’ Red Pill Blues, Noise with a Point).
The mixing, the breakage, the erasure, the disintegration of defined boundaries. An ethos replicated, to more minute but no less meaningful and symbolic portions, in E-Saggalia’s own compositions which come alive in gemeinschaft-like ways – the collective mess of instruments and the coherent, vast mass of exciting ideas, against the threatened Western workings of neat, tidy, tight, on/in time, behind the boundaries, unable to face being tarnished by one touch of the immoral anomalous body, beyond the walls they erect in the aseptic, jellied earth, or taste of the impenetrable, polluted air when exposed to the cold in the unknown zone.
I suppose this is one of those occasions whereby the debut album – Corporate Cross from E-Saggila, and label – Hospital Productions; have succeeded in striking an impressionable balance between headphone intensity, and soundsystem immensity. Between European club cultures boiling away in the pits of the underground, and the subtle nuances of ambiance and magic, which crackle and crumble apart like stray, strangely shaped signals shooting through the pillars of our imaginary prisons, car parks, infinite voids, vacuums, playgrounds, railroads…
It’s an album, all right. Here, as an antagonistic, artistic statement against what is orderly, orthodox, and commonplace – Out There. If anything, this album is Dirt. And it does this notion an excellent service.
With a handful of noteworthy releases on labels such as BANK NYC (Dedicated to Sublimity, Tools of My Purpose) and Northern Electronics (My World My Way and the utterly, insane rapturous entrapments of Anime Bullzozer EP, Relik and Spectator in particular), E-Saggalia (Iraq-born, Canadian sound artist Rita Mikhael) is no stranger to serving up an aggregate of variants of the shredded dimensions of everything from noise to breakcore, electronic to experimental, from the bedroom to the warehouse and hybridizing each point and corner. It makes sense to visualize this album as being flirtatious with the spaces between polarities of animal and human, between poles of the primal and the mechanised, the pure and the defiled, the in and the out.
Opener Recloud encapsulates the brief nicely. Oscillating between euphoric moments that burst with feverish rays of colour but all the while crackle apart like a collapsing landscape composed of shattering glass. Flirting with subtlety in each twinkling twist of electronics with enchantingly damaged melodies always zooming in and out of focus, spinning in and out of sight, below its expansive surface the undertones moan and howl aloud. The lonesome keys, the electronic glitches, the signals flying past like shooting stars too quick to really convince ourselves of being seen prickle and pierce the body of the song, itself stretched and compressed and pressurised and plugged in and pulled apart to the extremes. Wheezing and breathing, crawling along the floor and contracting with great intensity as it whirrs into the wind with the immensity of space it deserves.
E-Saggila wanted to inject a sonic quality, cosmic of sorts, into each song which drives with its own natural rhythm and frenetic pattern, it’s own invisible groove and frantic shapes. Thus, Replica fizzes and falls apart in the most wonderful way imaginable. We close our eyes and nod our heads to the song’s skipping snippets of a psychological metronome, an eel cruising in darkened waters, a reptile cloaked and inching along a hellish stretch of desertland, an insect ascends and starts to fly- a kind of human clockwork only each listener can hear, submerged in a party only the individual is invited to.
Digest furthers the ambitions to articulate the ever-widening spectrum of emotions, from coldness to light, from melody to noise, and in being able to creatively, conceptually ”conjure a specific time/place”, embrace being overwhelmed with each glistening wave of detail. Its inescapable dancing synth notes, fluttering midair, melt on enmeshments of matter, clashing, clasping, clapping, and keep the internal, ebullient twists rhythmically turbulent but without repetition; familiar but everlastingly changing on the edge; and circulating in the dark as oppositional to what attempts to seize hold through an act of inserting a series of nails in one’s pulverized muscle, when surrounding its state of serenity and equilibrium.
It’s fantastic to absorb a record that throws an assortment of different experiences at you from different dimensions at different times. One song is an assemblage of many different parts and this multifaceted complexion really emerges through after the thunderous Mouth in Reach. This nicely epitomizes what E-Saggila proposed as being a record built for a jumble of conditions, occasions, and contexts according to how one perceives the world and everything within it when alight before the car stereo.
An actual beat does appear, for, without at least a slither of order, everything would be frustratingly laborious. A tremoring, tireless device cut up and cracked apart into a multiplex of agitated shapes and forever kicks onward. An escalating, elevating keyboard line sharpened and shining with a crystalline finish, but somehow accidental and hazardous glides and finds its way through the labyrinthine properties of each possible musical outcome per beat. All the while keeping the cacophony under control and primed for the dance floor with its fidgety, dystopian techno menace. Always unstoppable with the throbbing, restlessly intersecting wheels of motion, and drilling deep into the cavernous encompassments around a pretty, glistening, little eye.
Cellygrin epitomises the natural symbiotic cord between this kind of hyperactive musical behaviour, imperfectly paying attention to the revelatory moment one realises how small we all are amongst the giants of the universe, from the viewpoint before the bedroom bookshelf speakers or at the breakfast table. It’s a weird, creaking door drum beats and crumbling wall electronics, like a paroxysm of signals or exhalation of Silicon whispers panging against a distant surface in outer space, then a floor on earth, then the wall then the ceiling then back to the wall again with every stroke of gossamer melodicism, cathartic in every rhythmic twist, and the forever generative spikes and perpetually gyrating spiral of sound, juiced and fuelled.
Each microscopic motif dragged back and then spat back forth, enhanced and emptied out, catching fire then thrown into the cold, adding unsettled and paranoid energy into the tune which rotates with its own mad, seemingly random configuration of times, speeds, and textures. A ”deep headphone listen”, and able to arouse times of ”elemental elevation” at generally any given time without a clear indication of climax but enjoys teetering on the edge of that unbroken vertex of audible sensory reception and occasionally shatters the nice, vibrating ceaselessness of the dream with a violent surprise in time. Or the savage introduction of Something Else. Or the gentle injection of something new into its vessels, to create displacement and disarray, but intrigue and evolution all the same.
For the Butterfly quickens in speed and bounces from one moment in time to another, conjuring up a spectacular showcase of kaleidoscopic drum patterns and bedazzlement of abstract electronic stabs, whereby Slowland graciously drifts through the strobes of the city, paced and sedated; smoke and feedback never too far from where the glimmers of scintillating synth scales are unfastened and float alone on their own. Each a song to get lost in whilst acidic hisses of drums drop in and out to create a disorienting but appetising piece of work. The next two tracks are at odds, but not entirely contrary, to their musical moods, traits, and tails of great trickery.
Embodied wonderfully by the summarising two sound pieces, more like thought processes transposed into musical iterations of machines and indentations of material, than songs of chords or structures with set styles or signatures. Corporate Cross throws a bright light over a series of dense weights, causing them to glide and glow as though objects indifferent and unaffected by the laws of gravity.
It’s a haunted swamp of climbing keyboards, it’s a harrowing entanglement of voices in the static charge, of hypnagogic machines bursting apart then being built back together in newly imagined ways, of a barely breathing synth melody flitting with an angelic fragility, witnessed wrestling with an amalgam of disparate sources of sound, unraveling in the night’s solar club sound system.
Mantis Print summons up a moving and equally spooky experiment with sound from underneath the earth. It’s disturbed robotic prayer reaching for something and reciting to someone amongst the numbing, unnerving ambiance in the vortex core. Someone succeeding in being both ethereal and wild, sentient and angelic, paranoid-schizoid, and grounded to their own grim spaces of disillusionment and dispossession which we can surely relate to as being, at one time or another, caught between.
It would appear that E-Sagglia has managed to make a fabulous album able to narrate the various stages of the working week and the various states of mind we all cannot help but blindly walk into. Better yet, providing a wholesome balance of things, of Self, in amongst the polarities of noise and poison, of abjection and dissolution, of crash and impact. A ”framework of placement and displacement” very much so.
In places disparate, but never incomplete or disjointed to the point the tunes appear as some spasmodic jumble. They possess those excellent hairline crack electronic properties that germinate, grow strong, flourish and eventually burn with their own unique phosphorescence and force of energy and vibrant, the pollinating flow of life, beseeching the individual to dance and dream and disappear. But equally, those kinds of electronic intonations and experimental vibes can wither and lilt which creates a new image of beauty by presenting something broken, but deliberately such, and with direction, no matter how unpredictable it spins throughout the field of intermittence. Fluttering at first, then gradually, disappearing into the honesty of nothingness as the artist peels back each piece of the environment to unveil what it conceals.
And thanks to albums like this, one which indeed has ”set a contemporary milestone for future disruption”, when listening time and time again, at the club, in the car, on the bedroom floor before the bookshelf speakers, we accumulate a sensation of joy knowing that, despite physically situated in a specific geography in a set temporal hour; our overall experiences can take us virtually anywhere we please, when immersed in ”noise” music like this.
In times when, and places where, a sense of empowerment can be acquired in being seen as filth, being viewed as nil, Corporate Cross actively entertains, even encourages the idea that to be introspective, at any time, and of any place, is to exist in a new kind of Ecstacy. And here, we are all invited, to be Willing Messes for Introspection.
Corporate Cross out 20 November
Available to download or purchase on clear green splatter vinyl.
Ryan Walker is a writer from Bolton. His archive can be found online here.