Obviously, I'm a big fan of all things Handmade Birds (as with most people with a wide array of tastes) but there have been some releases that I just haven't been able to get to, whether it be from laziness or otherwise, so I just decided to put them together. All of these releases are cassettes and releases which I haven't seem a whole lot of press for beyond what Mr. Loren has done himself. All releases here are reviewed from 1-10.
S/V\R - Célébration Noire (2012)
Country: Quebec, Canada
Label: Handmade Birds
Have you ever wondered what harsh, industrial noise and synth-pop would sound like together? If you haven't, you're in the same boat as me, but if you have, this is the release you've been waiting for. I've honestly been delaying the review for this cassette for months now, not for any particular reason or anything, I just never got around the time to actually listen to cassettes. I was only slightly aware of the style that this group performed, I knew that it was going to lean more on the noisier side of industrial music, but the product itself was a bit more jarring than I had anticipated. Tracks jump between waves of harsh noise and dance rhythms that have been tinkered around with and distorted till they sound incredibly abrasive. I actually found it quite disorienting the dichotomy between several sounds on here, specifically Amaigrie which takes a sort of witch-house kind of electronic idea and then pushes all these distorted synths over the top of it which just caused it to sound immensely warped. I think that there are ideas on here that work and ideas that don't, the sound isn't too focused yet so I can't really say this feels like a substantial piece in the HMB cannon, but as it stands, it's a perfectly acceptable tape if you're interested in experimental noise, industrial, or witch house.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: Une Joie Qui Finit, Recueillement, Les Mains Qui Corrigent
Jazzfinger - Destroyed Form (2012)
Country: Newcastle, UK
Label: Handmade Birds
I wasn't quite sure what to make of this cassette when I first played it. I mean, it's obviously pretty contained in the whole droning noise genre, but these are some pretty intense pieces. And I don't mean intense in the way that the noise will just assault your eardrums with walls of distortion, but intense in how each piece escalates and sort of tests the patience of the listener. Each track grinds along at a sluggish pace that just sort of build more and more tension as they move forward but never appear to ever let go of that tension. Even on the rather blistering Pinton Sederation, it never feels like you're being beaten to a pulp, rather slowly being fed through a meat-grinder. Even during those occasional somber ambient moments, like the introduction to I: Sun Punishment, it feels like a slow grind. The buildup is not met with adulation or excitement, but anxiety for the destruction that will occur when that climax finally hits. While that's all a good for a little while I did find this tape to be rather taxing to listen to, which is odd because there is actually quite a lot actually going on in each track, but I constantly found myself having to go back and listen to a track or section again because my attention would wander off. It's not a bad release, but it just isn't a release for me, I'm just indifferent towards it.
Overall Score: 6
Highlights: I: Sun Punishment + II: Blown Rotten Woodland
Jason Zeh - Polarity (2012)
Country: Bowling Green, Ohio
Label: Handmade Birds
Of all the releases I've covered from Handmade Birds, it may come as a surprise that I actually wasn't all that excited about this one. For some reason this one just didn't strike me as being one of the label's more definable releases, but Mr. R. Loren himself has actually done quite a fine job at sort of building up some hype for this cassette through a mixtape he made and in a brief interview he did. So, regardless of what I may have expected it to be I tried to come into this with an open mind ready for anything. I did watch a video of Zeh performing live (to which I heard were good enough that they should be filmed for a DVD - something I don't really get) and that didn't really inspire much confidence in this release; but when I actually listened to this tape I was actually quite surprised with it. It's not amazing or mind altering, but it is better than I expected. Both tracks feature some really interesting, minimalistic drones that are actually quite captivating for how minimal their structure(?) is. Both track feature very little in the way of variation, with a central drone essentially carrying the track from beginning to end with very, very subtle shifts occurring in the space between. Obviously, because this is only two tracks and both do top the twenty minute mark, it can be a pretty tough listen, and I won't make any defense for it be a difficult tape to get into, but it is actually quite an impressive little release that surpassed my expectations (if that means anything).
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Side A