Monday, May 25, 2009

Mess and Noise - Review, Rice Corpse

For a lot of noise musicians, showmanship is often limited to a mild flailing of the body while they hover over an array of equipment and leads. Sydney’s Lucas Abela opts instead for cutting his face to pieces with treated plate glass – breathing, sighing and yelling into the mic’ed up glass until it breaks into shards, often taking portions of his face with it. Under the name Justice Yeldham, Abela has brutalised a few households worth of window pane for years now, but his recorded material has rarely excited attention among the uninitiated masses, who generally appreciate the spectacle first and the sonics second, if at all.

Rice屎Corpse is Abela’s improvised collaboration with two Chinese artists – Yang Yang of Mafeisan on drums and saxophonist-cum-pianist Li Zenghui. For anyone fascinated by Abela’s means but intimidated by its end, Mrs Rice is an accessible place to start. It’s noise rock, and while no less compromising in execution the presence of a rhythmic and melodic backbone breathes a welcoming “rock” dynamic into Abela’s mulched, overdriven glasswork. His foreign sonic vocabulary is translated here into a musical language most listeners can decipher.

When playing off the two-piece ensemble, which switches between foreboding menace and full throttle freak out, Abela’s vocals are given the opportunity to display a surprising myriad of range – whether it be the eerie wavering foghorn drones halfway through ‘Stamp on My Balls’, the subtle static malfunction of ‘Desktop Frog’, or the garish rhythmic hopscotch showcased during ‘Peking Duck’. Abela responds deftly to Zenghui’s keys, which often heave violently out of sparse melodic noodling into hammer-happy free jazz expressiveness. Yang Yang’s eagerness to give his whole kit a solid thrashing at every given opportunity means Rice屎Corpse rarely climb out of their rigid soft/loud MO, but the jarring transitions rarely prove predictable or tiring.

Which seems somewhat integral to Mrs Rice anyway. It’s a joyously gratuitous album, equally hilarious and punishing, maniacal and narcoleptic. Maximum volume is recommended to appreciate the catharsis at the heart of Rice屎Corpse, especially for those likely to glaze over the more challenging aspects of the record. Don’t be mislead: this is still a rough-as-guts ride, but hopefully Mrs Rice is evidence enough to sceptics that Justice Yeldham is much more than just a bloodstained showman.

by Shaun Prescott

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