Going back to the mid-90's, the obscure Austin, TX outfit Korperschwache (German for "organic decay") has issued a steady stream of releases into the deep underground that showcased a distinctive sound sitting at the strange nexus between the early UK noise rock scene, the skull-rupturing power of Japan's more extremist noise artists, the massive gravitational pull of the formless guitar crush of bands like Earth and the Melvins at their most art-damaged, and, in more recent years, a filthy, blackened, low-fidelity underbelly that hints at the mutated black metal of bands like Abruptum, Necrofrost, and Vondur. From the beginning, Korperschwache has consisted of mastermind RKF on guitar, noise and vocals, assisted by the loyal mechanical timekeeping of Doktor Omega and occasionally joined by outside contributors. Korperschwache first took form as a side project of RKF's droning industrial rock band Autodidact, but became a primary concern soon thereafter, releasing a steady stream of releases over the years on cassette, Cd-r and digital download on labels like Peasant Magik, Inam Records, Colony, Dark Winter Moon, Public Guilt, Cut Hands and our own sub-label Crucial Bliss, to name a few, usually in extremely limited editions made available to the band's small but loyal cult of followers. The majorioty of these older releases have long been out of print, especially the extremely limited cassette releases from the early days of the band; a longtime Korperschwache fan, I myself never had an opportunity to get my hands on those early tapes, which featured some of Korper's harshest noise-based material.
Now, in conjunction with the brand new Korperschwache album Evil Walks that has just come out on Crucial Blast, we've assembled a series of reissues of early Korperschwache releases, some of which have never been heard by anyone outside of the band's immediate circle. The early cassette releases that have been excavated here are very different from Korperschwache's newer Loop-meets-Abruptum industrial blackpsych sound, many centering around brutal, high-volume noise assaults heavily influenced by both classic UK power electronics (Whitehouse, Ramleh, etc) and Japanese harsh noise (Merzbow, Masonna, Incapacitants, Contagious Orgasm). The later releases from this period began to creep into more guitar-focused dronepower and hypnotic amplifier bludgeon, with material like that of Night Country Fog (Korperschwache's previously unreleased collaboration with Smolken of Polish avant black metal/doom folk band Dead Raven Choir) beginning to direct the sound into the often melodic, always twisted psychedelic heaviness of it's current incarnation.
The most recent of the "excavated" Korperschwache albums is the 2005 album Night Country Fog, a collaboration with Smolken from Dead Raven Choir/Wolfmangler that, for some bizarre reason, never received any kind of formal release until now. This is pretty surprising, as Night Country Fog is one of the best of Korperschwache's considerable catalog of releases, and is possibly my favorite of all of the unearthed "lost" Korperschwache albums that we're releasing. It's the one that hews closest to the strange basement black psych dirge of Korperschwache's more recent material, but at the same time is very different from Korperschwache's other releases, a kind of amp-noise soaked funeral folk dirge, like what I would imagine one of those Belgian psych covens would sound like if one of their midnight forest jams was invaded by a wave of skuzzy HeadDirt Records-style guitar filth. Smolken's cello figures prominently on this album, and gives Night Country Fog much of it's strange, creeping folk feel.
The first song (and these are all definitely songs, and not just assaults of noise) "Afternoon" begins the album with a hazy, slow-moving cloud of strummed guitar chords and gauzy feedback drifting and unfurling beneath the sounds of birds singing and forest noises and distant sirens; the guitars are pushed to the background, heavy but not oppressive, and the clanging chords and thick clusters of dirgey rumble form into a surprisingly pretty wash of almost dreampop-like melody. The sounds of wind chimes and strange scraping noises surface intermittently while the chord progressions shift into slightly darker directions, winding this ten minute song through varying degrees of light and shade. Towards the very end, a damaged stringed instrument (banjo? a heat-warped guitar? Smolken's cello?) is slowly plucked and scraped as the swirling mist slowly dissipates. With the next track "Evening", the music suddenly transforms into something much more abrasive and unfriendly, a thick amp fug surrounding strains of keening feedback and slippery detuned strings, softly plucked guitar notes and Smolken's grief-stricken cello as darkness slips inexorably over the rumbling drone jam, while the chirping birds and field recordings are slowly overwhelmed by swells of sinister fx and black static. As the album moves into "Night", the reverberant guitar is loud and booming as it slowly crawls across the now-nocturnal soundspace, playing a gorgeous melancholy chord progression while night sounds emerge all around, the buzz and chirp of crickets melting into the warm gusts of feedback and hiss that uncoil out of the amplifier, and something scrapes at the door while a train blares it's horn way off in the distance. "Around midnight" is made of similar stuff, slowly drifting electric guitars riding on waves of euphoric feedback and wavering sheets of drone, awash in that ever-present amplifier hiss, again surrounded by nocturnal sounds, the effect mesmerizing and beautiful; towards the end, though, a myriad of jarring sounds intrude, a grinding locomotive chug, crashing sounds, scraping metal, a growing din of industrial racket that leads into the last song "I heard the ghost train call my name (as the wheels went rolling by and by)", where the beautiful, cathedral-sized folk guitars are pushed down beneath the rumbling machinery and howling factory noise.
released January 1, 2011
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