Shipwrecker's Diary

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It had been a while since Ground Fault's previous "Series III" release, but Prurient's Shipwrecker's Diary is an ear cleanser worth waiting for. Dominick Fernow treats us to a devastating, uncompromising half-hour of sonic fury while leaving some room for the listener. Harsh noise is often alienating as it leaves nothing to cling to, but Shipwrecker's Diary, while delivering the extreme digital noise you'd expect, is actually listenable and enjoyable (to trained ears and at the cost of a very demanding listen). First of all, the duration (a few seconds over 33 minutes) makes the experience bearable. Second of all, after 20 minutes of relentless walls of harsh noise, the ninth track, "June 19," introduces wider dynamics -- a pause, if you will. The tracks before "June 19" are all titled after body parts. They offer pure harsh noise, unmediated by recognizable samples or instruments. Fernow's sonic gestures are savage yet precise, recalling Sissy Spacek's John Wiese. The tracks following "June 19" are considerably shorter. The first four move to the head, in terms of track titles, and introduce voice to the mix, in the form of various vociferations. The last two tracks, "Who Are You Anyway?" and "I Wonder If I'll Be Able to Sleep?" are two short soliloquies spoken by a young girl, unaltered recordings of love messages. The contrast with what came before is of course striking, puzzling, and feels somewhat gratuitous unless you are satisfied with the harsh/violent versus loving/tender contrast by itself. That awkward finale aside, Shipwrecker's Diary is a strong harsh noise offering.

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