Burning Star Core's January noise-Snuggie surprise


Burning Star Core, an out-noise concern centered around Cinncinati-based violinist/electronics guy C. Spencer Yeh, is a welcome rarity in terms of its rewarding artistic progression; with every passing year and each successive release, the band becomes slightly more interesting, more sonically seltzer. This is significant, because BXC boasts a huge catalogue and because its metier is mannered, drone-y noise -- there's always a concerted, OCD feel to their recordings, which generally zero in on a handful of fuzzy sounds and handily exploit their inherent possibilities.

The crew's new album, Inside the Shadow (Hospital Productions), is shaping up to be one of 2010's first notable noise releases, a worthy heir apparent to BXC's killer run over the past couple years: shredded-tone masterpiece Blood Lightning 2007 (No Fun), crispy-cruel Challenger (Hospital), and drone-tastic Operator Dead... Post Abandoned (No Quarter).

(This is to say nothing, of course, of the onslaught of collabos and side projects and Yeh solo outings.)

Opening track "Inside the Shadow (w/metals)" is without question the standout. On some level, it reminds me of a television commercial in which mechanics are working in an auto shop, doing different things with tools; one mechanic taps something with his tools, then another does the same, then another still, until somehow a percussive construction has emerged, and people in the waiting area are tapping their toes and nodding along and smiling, united in melodic solidarity.

If someone tried to simulate the conditions necessary for "Inside the Shadow (w/metals)" in an actual auto shop, he or she would be crucified, or at least beaten about the head and face with a crowbar.

The song is essentially a deep, beehive-buzz hummmmmmmmmmm, a quavering drone so thick you could pour it over your pancakes or mashed potatoes, or you could mix it with club soda. It quests; it redoubles; it reverberates. You can feel it in your bowels. It's got that kind of star presence. And yet there's more going on, here: as that drone thrumms out of iPod earbuds into the foundation of your cerebelum, it seems that nails, thumbtacks, and screws are being emptied from boxes onto a concrete garage floor. Nails, thumbtacks, and screws made out of wind chimes. Or maybe they are wind chimes, and miniature gongs, and cymbals, and finger bells. As these sounds multiply -- and as the drone beneath them expands, growing in turbidity -- they begin to prick and peck at the speakers, to carry more and more weight, more purpose.

And, all at once, just like that, you're no longer are simply absorbing an experimentalist colliding of paradigms; now, you're listening someone attempt to repair an interdimensional transporter. The drone has turned almost aggressive, determinedly interstellar. Squeaks -- horns or tennis-shoe soles on a warehouse floor? -- and the gurgle of water pierce an ambiance that gave way to Insinkerator din when you weren't paying enough attention.

You're the property of Burning Stare Core, you don't even realize it, and there's nothing you can do about it -- even if you wanted to.