Justin Broadrick

Subsonic 3: Skinner's Black Laboratories

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A shared CD of solo electric guitar with plenty of enhancements, Subsonic 3: Skinner's Black Laboratories offers some compelling and chilling work from two of the more experimental musicians exploring the cold, outer reaches of rock in the '90s. In his time with the bands God and Godflesh, Justin K. Broadrick sculpted an approach referred to by critics as isolationism, where harsh industrial sounds dominated, often oozing into freeform noise fests, almost always with a dark and brooding tinge. Three of his four tracks here occupy similar territory, though they're all very carefully considered and plotted. Broadrick stays toward the lower, rumbling regions of his guitar (utilizing a substantial amount of effects and looping), giving one the feeling of leaning against an unusually musical turbine generator. They are bleak but thoughtful, melancholic but with a romantic edge. "Guitar Two," on the other hand, is a relatively carefree jaunt with folksy strumming that almost evokes John Fahey. Unlike Broadrick, Andy Hawkins -- the driving force behind the superb avant power trio Blind Idiot God -- aims steadily for the stratosphere. "River Blindness" opens with searing guitar screams over sampled tablas, the roar of his sound being pulled and twisted like an arm wrenched out of its socket, gradually dissolving into a deep, sonorous hum. The second of his two contributions is more of an extravaganza, as Hawkins fashions a fuzz-strewn maelstrom that would send most metal guitarists loping home, tail between legs. For the adventurous rock fan who doesn't require words or a steady beat, this album could perform a much-needed reaming job on his/her ears.

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