Smooth Assailing Review
(the abbreviated version of Justice Yeldham and the dynamic ribbon device ) is one of the aliases of Sydney, Australia's Lucas Abela . he has recorded in the past as dj Smallcock , a Kombi and Peeled hearts paste . He also co-operates the Dual Plover imprint.
Ah, here's a dude who freaks me out a little bit. He's a totally nice guy, but most of the pictures of him on his myspace involve his face being bloodied. Clearly, he's not afraid to go the extra mile for his art, and that's commendable. If you're willing to physically fuck yourself up to make atonal noise, you've got my respect... just don't get your blood on me.
With this project, Lucas has himself a pretty identifiable sound, which is a rare thing to do in the modern noise scene. His secret? amplified glass. Sure, he's not the first to think of it, off of the top of my head i know that Bob Bellerue and Akifumi Nakajima have discovered the usefulness of glass in audio settings, but i doubt that anyone's done anything quite like Abela . He amplifies sheets of glass, presses mouth up to the glass, and then in a combination of humming and soft throat singing, proceeds to play the glass like a brass instrument. He also has a belt of effects pedals to enhance the sound. Needless to say, it's pretty sick, and that also explains how his face and body will get so bloody.
The first side will start off pretty minimally, with Abela 's slow vocal tones getting affected and almost sounding like tape manipulations. After a minute of that, then comes the pedal work. there's a nice balance between the bassy glass hums and the dissonant noise that's being spewed forth from the pedals. I like the unexpected drop-off in noise in the latter half. Right as everything was beginning to swell, it died down to a barely audible breathy lull, before kicking things back into gear. The noise that he summons via the glass tends to alternate between the whirling sputter of a dying power drill and the loud buzz of an amplified fly. At the end of the set you can hear the glass break, and then the, initially, cautious applause from the audience... should we be clapping or calling an ambulance?
Fun fact (unless you're lucas ): due to faulty ground wires during the second set (side b), he was being shocked through his pedal belt, and still he soldiered on. If it comes as any consolation, this is my favorite of the two. I dug the minimal moments of the first performance, but i'm really won over by the fuller noise approach here. Also, for these shows being on back to back days, they're pretty different from each other. The first set was in a lot more of a vocal style, you can pick up on it easier because, due to the (relative) quietness of some sections, it was accentuated. This is a lot noisier, with the sounds emanating from the glass coming across more as shrieks than low hums. Of course, he's not screaming, because doing that into a thin sheet of amplified glass would be moronic. The ending on this one is great, too, he'll briefly tap into a repetitious (dare i say rhythmic?) stretch, followed by loud screeching distortion, which, shortly thereafter, kills the glass. Awesome.
Fun(?) fact: the cover art for this record was a nice mixture of blood and red paint. I think it was done by a fan after the show.
Note for americans, justice yeldham will probably be dripping blood on the floors of venues near you, starting in the middle of february at the international noise conference in miami. Check out his myspace for complete tour itinerary as well as mp3s from this release and a few other ones. The Shanghai mp3 he's sharing is particularly great. Anyway, it's a bummer that he's not making it past olympia this time out... at least we have this...