Soft Issues: Soft Issues
Louder than War’s Ioan Humphreys gets some earache listening to harsh noise band, ‘Soft Issues’.
Over the years, I have become more and more appreciative of abstract noise/experimentation as art. This may be because of my art school education, where I was introduced to a disparate assortment of bands such as Anal Cunt, Throbbing Gristle and Killdozer, or the oncoming of middle age, where the run-of-the-mill chart music played on popular radio stations drives me to such distraction that I’m barely able to drive home safely without tearing the steering wheel from its fixings.
I won’t dwell on the psychology of being able to listen to ‘noise music’ too long. All I’m trying to say is that the ability to listen to Sonic Youth for several hours is nothing compared to listening to a fraction of the output of Japanese musician Merzbow. The (often unlistenable) noise that he is able to produce is quite rightly described as ‘harsh noise’, yet this genre of music is very much alive and kicking (and screaming) in the underground noise scene. There are several Facebook groups dedicated to noise and harsh noise, so click away and enjoy the experimentation and dedication to this sub-genre.
Anyway, I digress slightly. I recently reviewed an LP by an awesome act called Cattle here, that have managed to go on to big and brilliant things, and continue to grow as a band. Their lead singer Chris recently got in touch about a new harsh noise band he has formed with Jack (from Human Certainty) called Soft Issues. They have produced a five-track self-titled EP and the results are absolutely ferocious.
The piercing noise that introduces the first track (BDC) really does set the tone for the rest of the EP. Grindcore vocals over a brilliantly chugging and relentless percussion actually give a hint of song structure to the harsh noise that soon envelops the track.
Follow-up, Radiator Paint, has a more glitchy feel to the noise, yet it’s punctuated by the pained vocals. The tension is ramped up and up by the intense and more and more unbearable noise that this twosome manage to produce!
The Thrill of Seeing Your Friends Fail is a more abstract affair that is a gorgeous exercise in the futility of existence and an almost zen-like welcome rest from what has come before in this EP.
Degloving is as unpleasant a track as the medical definition of its name describes. Jesus Christ, what have we done to deserve this level of nasty aural assault? Probably THE stand out track of the EP. Brutal.
Final track, Hetchell is an unbearably dense and loud affair. Again it is channelling bands like Merzbow or Part Chimp, yet they seem to be honing their own brand of noise and suffering. The slow electronica throb that appears in the final track gives a welcome reprieve. This only lasts so long, until the harsh noise and the hell-like vocals come in in the last third and finish off this track.
Often an uncomfortable experience, Soft Issues’ latest work is a must for all harsh noise fans, grindcore fans and anyone looking for meaningful, yet slightly inaccessible experiences. Nice.
Tapes coming soon through Concrete Block records. Soft Issues can be found via Cattle’s Facebook page.
You can listen to the EP here: