Review of Postcards From the Isle of the Dead (Part One) by Germseed, and Hypernature by Germseed.
Germseed is the main experimental project of multi disciplinary artist Alice Kemp who came from various bands in the 1990s and gradually re-emerged as an impressive experimental artist with her impressive 2001 untitled CD-R release as Germseed. She also did a good amount of work at the same time in projects like Uniform, dual, Defeatist, Ringo Christ, and Bark Psychosis.
There have been yearly releases as Germseed since 2011’s Angelcodes. The first two releases differ greatly due to there being a ten year gap in-between them.
Today whilst doing some Germseed catch up, I questioned the nature of how Germseed/ Alice Kemp does a lot of different things sonically and asked myself is she was an avant garde tourist or a good artist? I was in a discussion with a peer last night and he suggested that even good music artists only generally do two good albums in their career. So when I thought about this I thought about my own experience as an artist. I then thought that this may be true, if we stick to one style or one idea of a chosen medium, then that will peak at one point and then the good ideas will be exhausted and a theme will dry out, unless an artist is lucky. If you are open to change and progression you stand more chance of achieving more or longer artistic highs as you continue your work and develop new things; you could perhaps bypass temporary greatness. I will review the last two Germseed offerings closely to find out how good the project actually is.
Postcards From the Isle of the Dead (Part One) begins with Black Bright, this uses aggressive low level noise, at first I thought the crackling was just a fussy authentic touch, but it becomes more assaultive on the ears along with the industrial electronics as they rotate with increasing intensity. The crackle of the static is used as a sharpened wave of distortion.
The Man With the Long Black Brain follows through with strong continuity, at first it appears nightmarishly ambient but throws in assaultive frequencies along with more torturous crackle. This is original via its violent, aggressive, continual shifts in attack. Ishquenza cuts in with massive arching wind instrument based sounds over shuffling electronics, I am initially disappointed by this in comparison to the challenging nature of the two previous tracks, but then the massive arcs of sound start to die out as the progress as if running out of breath. This is a humorous break in the context achieved by the track, the sound tries to regain its dignity, only the addition of vocal noises helps to achieve this. The vocal adds an improved cohesion to Ishquenza.
The hateful crackle continues into Gently Orbiting the Truth Yet. Harsh frequencies play off a questioning hurt vocal sample. “Can’t you feel it?” asks the vocal sample; yes I fucking did, I reviewed this on headphones and it hurt! 4/5
The following year’s Hypernature starts like a massive drop with In Velvet, this is more instrumental with use of drums and guitar, along with creaking electronics. This is part experimentation and part atmospheric instrumentation in comparison to Isle of the Dead, there are still harsh elements such as the continual creaking sounds. Shifting, layering feedback explores itself in Sons of Bitches etc., this explodes into monstrous riffs coupled with sharp electronic noise, vocals are obscured as they play out in the middle of things, like the previous CD's track Ishquenza this is impressive. The sound combinations are original and work well; they demonstrate a left of field noise approach.
Flowers Teeth Fingers Ink, continues the methods of Sons of Bitches, but at dirtier lower levels, partially paying homage to earlier Earth through the abstracted vocals. Ink shifts impressively as it dies out. The tracks get longer and longer allowing for ambient aspects to emerge with the long slow death of some of the tracks adding further depth to Hypernature.
The chaotically intense Fistful of Ashes continues with riff and drums, this builds with the addition of further vocal sounds and a spray of distortion. We feel we have walked in the middle of Bone Reader, sustained riffs allow long passages of feedback to resonate. As Hypernature progresses the noise element is less and we are left with the purity of the riff, at some later points noise elements resurface. The fractured riff of Be Ye Ready Also is complimented by a fractured vocal. The fracturing intensifies to make everything splatter, the points when things become tighter and less splatty is impressively calculated. 5/5
Hypernature is beautifully packaged in a card sleeve with lino printed artwork by AK. As an album it works well because its use of guitar seems natural, the surrounding noise, combined gives great results. Hypernature keeps a simple mix of instruments, it does not over complicate, this allows for a raw and direct delivery on all of the tracks. In comparison Postcards from the Isle of the Dead stands in brilliant contrast through its intense considered electronics. Tracks on both CD-Rs are filtered down to the best material and are incredibly well thought out.
Germseed balances different elements perfectly and tweaks them effectively. Her multi-faceted work does address itself through different methods, Hypernature is an expansion of 2011’s Angelcodes, Postcards… does slightly reference what I remember of the first untitled 2001 CD-R. I had to intensely question Germseed in his review, I needed to, as I can now say I feel that so far this body of work is at worst very good at best truly brilliant.
Germseed – Postcards From the Isle of the Dead (Part One)
CD-R, 2012 -Self-Released (available direct from Germseed). Experimental/Noise.
- Black Bright
- The Man With the Long Black Brain
- Gently Orbiting the Truth Yet
Germseed – Hypernature
CD-R, 2013 -Self-Released through The Lazarus Corporation – LAZCD01. Experimental/Noise.
- in velvet
- Sons of bitches etc.
- flowers teeth fingers ink
- Fistful of ashes
- Bone reader
- Be ye ready also