The Survival Research Laboratories' performances are unique events built around post-apocalyptic machinery, noise, and violence. In the 1990s, these manifestations have included giant Tesla coils shooting ten-meter arcs of electricity and part-robot, part-decaying corpses fighting to the end with an impressive arsenal of weapons. The sounds of metal destroying metal and explosions are accompanied by GX Jupitter-Larsen's noise soundtracks devised to fill occasional gaps as the machines get damaged beyond repair. Jupitter-Larsen joined the team of SRL founder Mark Pauline in 1992, replacing chief sound engineer Matt Heckertt, who left in 1989. This CD, compiled by Scott Arford, culls live recordings from various shows with Jupitter-Larsen on board. Thanks to the liner notes, the uninitiated listener is able to put vivid images on the disturbing sounds he hears. "October 24, 1992: Graz, Austria" documents a performance during which the whole country was put on war alert because of the number of explosions heard by neighbors of the venue. Cartoon sound effects are mixed live to the sounds of the fighting robots, creating a highly disturbing clash of signifiers. The next track, "March 28, 1997: Austin TX" is the one providing the closest thing to a thorough experience. In the course of its 30 minutes, the listener is surrounded by pre-recorded sounds of an auto race and car crashes -- the venue was a race track -- and robot noises that include a train or fog horn, a flamethrower, and other mayhem-related sounds. One can only imagine what prompts the audience to cheer and applause halfway through. The other excerpts exemplify other performances but add little to the overall result. This is extreme noise with an imagery more vivid than the more usual power-tool noise albums, and it remains the best audio document of the SRL's activities.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture