If you’re looking for a conversational topic to alienate some woman you’ve just met, a harsh noise project focusing on “marine biology, doubt and castration” sounds like a good place to start. Luxury Mollusc has been around for over a decade, doing regular live-gigs and putting out a few, very few, releases. Based in Dublin, Ireland, this fine one man outfit recently released Secretes – an “exploration of mucous production. Respiratory, digestive and reproductive”. There we go.
We’ll start off with the concept, for reasons which will become obvious. At first glance it might seem easy to dismiss a theme dabbling in various bodily functions as empty provocation, or some kind of worn-out and not-very-convincing radicalism. This would be a bit rude, though, since there are at least two factors that makes at least this release quite convincing: first of all, the “physical version” consists of download codes attached to test-tubes filled with white slime, representing semen. These have apparently proven all-but impossible to ship internationally, what with mysterious liquids not being very popular with customs and post offices around the world. Let’s face it: even if it isn’t entirely intentional, provoking fear of terrorism by trying to mail your pretend-sperm tubes is pretty damn radical, and no empty provocation. Secondly, the cover art, for all of its simplicity, is genuinely disturbing, without actually depicting any hacked off limbs or sexual oddities.
Having established that Luxury Mollusc seems to have a decent (?) sense of how to provide some conceptual backbone to a harsh noise project, it is time to turn to the actual noise. It is constructed from field recordings, feedback loops, effect pedals, bone and scrap metal manipulations etc, offering a broad variety of sound sources. It often dwells in the ambient realm, but there is certainly enough sonic violence going on to put this pretty squarely in the harsh noise box. Secretes begins with the 18 minute track “Goblet Cell”, which in my opinion is actually the weakest track. It is certainly not bad per se – there are plenty of interesting ideas, and the entirely atonal approach to dark ambient with noise spicing is ok. All the other four tracks are better, though, with less meandering and more exciting madness going on.
The broad assortment of techniques employed are evident throughout – in “Tract” with its delay-looped distortion accompanied by metal manipulations, as well as in “Rectal Myth” with its scrap clanging and melodic, though probably not synthesized, drones. Closing track “Speculum” takes a Japanoise route, and with a very analog and wild sound it ends up our favorite on this one, feeling somewhat like a Japanese Sewer Election with more in-your-face junk metal abuse.
Secretes is a solid piece of harsh noise, covering many aspects of the genre, and touching on dark ambient and musique concrete in the process. To get a hold of one of them semen representin’ tubes, you may have to go to a live show and buy one straight from the band, but you can always buy a digital download for free or for whatever your inner moral compass tells you is fair.