If I think of noise and experimental music from New York, I imagine jaded hipsters in a chic club, filming a mixer-and-pedal wielding dude in oversized glasses with their iPhones as they contemplate how Hilary Clinton cost Jill Stein the presidency. If I think of noise and experimental music from Indonesia, I have no similar prejudices to offer, but I imagine it to be pretty fucking great. Psychotropes confirms the latter idea, if not necessarily the former. It is a compilation tape put out by New York’s Continuum records, assembling nine New York artists and nine Indonesian ones, and the result is really quite astounding.
From the opening “Metrazol Treatment”, a grotesquely filthy, splendid harshnoise anthem feedbacked together by Sooncrazy from Bali, to the closing Theologian track “Human Leather” this is a no-nonsense ride all through. It’s crunchy, it’s organic and it’s diverse without feeling haphazard and cobbled together. Considering the label Continuum.‘s back catalog (which I’ve seen more than heard), I was at first very afraid that this would contain many examples of unhappy musical marriages such as noise-punk and noise-grindcore, but that is really not the case. The projects are different enough from each other, and there may be a track or two that strays and breaks one of the many unpronounceable and malleable-yet-unflinching Laws of Harshnoise, and doesn’t quite work, but even then it’s not terrible. Or at least not boring – this is never boring!
The tape also includes a little booklet. Every band gets one page on which to present track info, artwork or general tomfoolery. It somehow resembles the booklets of Transmissions of Hatred and Transmissions of Power put out by Open Wound way back when – also great compilations, though of course edgier. Taken together with a very professional looking and sounding chrome tape, this booklest gives a great impression, making Psychotropes land in that perfect spot between DIY and quasi-professionalism. In other words, it has the free, independent quality of the underground punk/black metal/grindcore scenes, but also the not-looking-like-shit quality of something created by a person with an actual job (ouch, I’m old now).
The one thing I can’t do here is select particular favorites. As indicated, almost all the tracks are awesome, and those that are not are still entertaining. The Indonesian acts, taken as a whole, may come out on top due to their very consistent, powerful approach to harsh noise, but basically all bands on this tape deserve further attention. And further attention you will have to give them to get a hold of this one, since virtually the entire limitation of 200 copies has been distributed as artist’s copies. Because of this, we will take the unusual step of publishing the entire track list, and you can go forth into the world and seek out thine own copy through use of google. Most of these guys have facebook pages, soundclouds, bandcamps and what not, so don’t be afraid to go hunting!
1. Sooncrazy (Gianyar, Bali) “Metrazol Treatment”
2. Jahilyya Fields (NYC) “Cumtux”
3. Sodadosa (Yogyakarta, Java) “Asa.Dusta.Membangkai”
4. Bob Bellerue (NYC) “Kambing Makan Padang”
5. Jeritan (Samarinda, East Borneo) “I’m Tired”
6. The Jazzfakers (NYC) “Hallucinations”
7. To Die (Yogyakarta, Java) “Sengkarut Luka”
8. MV Carbon (NYC) “Drop Ceiling”
9. Wahn (Solo, Java) “Lakang Buto”
10 Hades Mining Co. (Rochester NY) “1 Minute 13 Seconds of Filth”
1. Doa Dan Dosa (Solo, Java) “Murka”
2. Swollen Organs (NYC) “Resentment (Wastrel)”
3. Sarana (Samarinda, East Borneo) “Another Sinking Feeling”
4. Anthony Saunders (Nyack, NY) “Imperfect, Petrified”
5. Remon Red (Jakarta, Java) “RR5”
6. Bloater (NYC) “Stable”
7. Karnivulgar (Surabaya, Java) “Your Words Just Made Me Like a Strange Creature From M84”
8. Theologian (Nyack, NY) “Human Leather”