Review: T.E.F./Bastard Noise “Astronomical Sound Images” CD

This collaboration sees these two noise artists teaming up for three rather long tracks that have apparently been in the works for four years!? Whatever the case, "Rho Oph Dark Cloud" opens with somewhat of a spacey wave of synths before giving way to a crispy, chaotic flutter of glitchy distortion over a subtle yet rather overpowering pulse of low-end that really starts to fuck with your ears and create an ominous, oppressive presence. This approach continues as a few synth surges that seem faintly melodic start to creep in behind the frantic blips and crashes of the distortion near the four-minute mark as things gradually thin out over the next several minutes before a harsher blitz of swirling midrange distortion takes a similar toll on the spacious foreground. About 10 minutes in things have dropped back to a calmer resting place where most of the noises are coming from far off in the distance, providing a well deserved break for the ears, as distortion ebbs and flows in and out with more of those ethereal synths to close the 14-minute piece. "The Pleiades Cluster" runs nine minutes and follows with a bubbly low-end churn that bounces back and forth to a surge of biting feedback over windy midrange distortion that quickly layers in to fill things out. A relatively abrasive attack of that same swirling distortion coated with glitchy electronic sounds settles in and dominates the bulk of the track with a little more of a circular movement and resonance as compared to the opening track, with some ambient textures and more prominent bass levels making a nice appearance past the midway point... before another absolutely crushing blow of the most chaotic and earsplitting distortion yet pops back in to draw things to a close. The 13-minute "M104, NGC 4594" follows and is fairly similar to most of the preceding track, just that the distortion tends to change around a bit more and move from that thin and chaotic style to a thicker and more churning approach with lots of overdriven low-end and a few rhythmic stutters. There also doesn't seem to be quite as much layering throughout the piece, though the closing run does seem to thicken up nicely on occasion. The disc comes in a matte black and white slipcase with clean, simple text and minimal visual accompaniment, so there's not all that much to speak of there. Overall this is a pretty well timed and solid blast of experimental noise, and the only elements that leave me mildly dissatisfied are that there's not a great deal of variety throughout the three pieces and there are also few moments that seem to harness any tangible feeling or atmosphere. Some of that is likely due to my own personal tastes, but I definitely would've liked to have heard a little more balance and variation in a couple of these pieces. "Rho Oph Dark Cloud" seems to make the best use of its time in terms of subtle diversities and a sense of fluidity, so while none of these tracks are what I would deem weak, that one's certainly the keeper for me.

Running time - 36:22, Tracks: 3
[Notable tracks: Rho Oph Dark Cloud]
PACrec -