Friday, February 05, 2010

Northern Cross - Shitty Madrigal (Rare Youth/Louder Than Life,2006)

Northern Cross is the dual guitar noise project by Geoff Mullen and Kris Lapke. I first became aware of Mullen's guitar excursions through his additions to the excellent Invisible Pyramid box set put out a few years ago by Providence based Last Visible Dog records. In addition to introducing me to the beautiful writing of Loren Eisley, that expansive 6 CD document has yielded countless hours of aural bliss with Mullen's contributions being my personal favorites. On that set, Mullen transcended mere Takoma worship with his use of subtle white noise that only enhanced his beautiful acoustic guitar playing. Having followed Mullen's career since then it is evident the man is a restless creative spirit and one of a handful of guitarists who can still keep things interesting.

In Kris Lapke, Mullen has found a perfectly suited foil for guitar based extrapolation. On my first sojourn to Dom Fernow's Hospital Records, I asked him to suggest some warm noise and I walked out with a cassette of Lapke's Furisubi project; a low-end murky howl that has remained a perennial favorite. It turns out Lapke is a frequent collaborator with one of his most recent outings playing guitar with the incredible black metal band Ash Pool.

With Northern Cross Mullen and Lapke create dense clouds of sound with an underlying intricacy lacking in most guitar-based noise music. Having released a handful of tapes on various labels, Northern Cross dropped the down right monolithic Shitty Madrigal a few years back. A collaborative release between Mullen's Rare Youth and Lapke's Louder Than Life imprints, Shitty Madrigal is a three cassette monster bearing no less than 3 hours of jams recorded live to 4-track on three different occasions back in 2006. The liner notes state Lapke is on rhythm and Mullen on lead and while the proceedings will not conjure images of Dickey Betts and Duane Allman, deep listening does indeed reveal a methodical approach to the sound. While this is most definitely noise music, the communication between the two participants is quite intuitive with Lapke laying down a thick bed of sludge while Mullen interjects with furious bursts coupled with some very interesting harmonic counterpoint. Discussing particular sides or moments with such a vast sea of music is nearly impossible with each cassette revealing it's dissonant nuances after a few listens. As with all great noise, there is a great amount of space on Shitty Madrigal for the listener to inhabit. Highly recommended.

Northern Cross - Shitty Madrigal (Rare Youth/Louder Than Life,2006)


1 comment:

josh malamy said...

this is great great great. thanks for postin