5 May 2017

Aaron Dilloway - The Gag File (album review)

From its earliest days reverberating out of Throbbing Gristle's Death Factory, noise and industrial have had a fixation upon trash, muck and bile. On Aaron Dilloway's latest album, The Gag File, the sewage is flowing down the street, not only letting leash an ungodly foul stench, wreaking havoc upon its outward appearance, but also revealing fellow neighbours most unsightly secrets. It would be of no surprise to discover that this truly grotesque monstrosity is some locked up product of Cronenberg, deemed too ghastly for even body horror aficionados.

Aaran Dilloway is something of a legend within the noise community having been a founding member of the seminal act Wolf Eyes - a group which he remained a part of until roughly a decade ago. Across his solo work to date, he has created tape-led abominations; great hulking creatures, emitting blubbering, woeful cries from their sludge filled mouths. This may be a more concise and lean effort than his sprawling opus Modern Jester, but pleasingly, appals and debases to an equal measure.

Karaoke With Cal (sadly not a reference to our site's editor) sounds like the scuzziest of bar, inhabited by lifeforms of no known origin, decorated with toxic waste and thick layers of ectoplasm, with crazed staff who look like they'd sooner knife you than serve you a drink. Opener Ghost is all sci-fi slasher, a bloodthirsty alien lurking around dimly lit streets, whilst Aaron's garbled vocals sound like a malfunctioning Hal serenading the cosmic abyss.

Thankfully, Dilloway's branch of noise seems anything but one dimensional, something rather refreshing when situated amongst a scene of macho bravado and relentless extremity. As oppose to merely creating the harshest noises imaginable, he instead ops for a kind of trashy psychedelia, noise clogged up by bizzaro B-movies, found sound clutter and vocals which straddle the line between goofy and disturbing - which can at times recall V/VM's sicko rendition of Chris de Burgh's Lady In Red, some sort of perverted gutter croon.

I mentioned earlier noise's fixation with trash, and in the case of The Gag File it can feel as if its been assembled out of a gargantuan cultural scrapheap. Pulp fiction, straight to DVD releases, shoddy comics, snuff picks, dodgy porn, grainy YouTube videos. It draws upon this ignored/forgotten cultural output, and finds something truly worthwhile amongst amongst the dreck. Like the masked cover of Modern Jester, or ventriloquist dummy of The Gag File, there's simultaneously a kitschy tackiness and something more genuinely unnerving afoot.

Born in a Maze shifts gears towards a lurching, Frankenstein take on techno. It's a sound comprised of rubble and shards, pummelling yet fatally broken, resulting in a bafflingly lopsided type of catharsis. The album has the physical and mental release of noise, it's emotional anguish, but refuses to settle on any known archetype, hinting at possible avenues the now ageing genre may venture down in the future. It's telling that Dilloway has previously collaborated with Genesis P-Orridge, as Genesis shows a similar degree of contempt towards formula, even if that formula belongs to a challenging, confrontational form of music.

With The Gag File, Dilloway has further cemented his position as one of modern music's most fearless innovators. Here's an artist whose pursuits have ranged from travelling to Nepal recording snake charmers, to co-founding the legendary noise-rock provocateurs Wolf Eyes, with the thread-line being a continuously adventurous spirit, and a demented infatuation with the most the depraved sounds imaginable.

9.1/10


(Words: Eden Tizard)