CD Review

Noxious Emotion – “Count Zero”

By Marcus Pan

Count ZeroI might be doing this a bit backwards, I’ll admit. I spun and reviewed NE’s Symbols disc long before I got my hands on the now limited-edition Count Zero. A year previous to their release of Symbols in 1998, Noxious Emotion released their fourth full length –Count Zero on ADSR Musicwerks. If I can get their third, This Hallowed Ground which they released in 1996, I could keep up this backwards trend of mine.

I particularly like the Gieger-esque cover art for Count Zero as done by Heather Ivy. I also like the way they’ve listed the tracks. While Symbols listed them, appropriately enough, with symbols, Count Zero follows the album name with its tracks by listing them by their time counters – going backwards from +29:25 to –26:11. Quite unusual, but I enjoy NE’s flair for keeping a similar vein throughout all facets of a CD when they put out a release. Shows they’re thinking – putting as much into the experience that is Noxious Emotion as they do the music.

NE sticks to the same style throughout their recordings – the high-octane dance electronica they’ve become masters of. While some bands will try to cross genres or even turn out a release that is far from their last few, NE instead desire to be masters of the “elektro-body-music” that they’ve been recording since their self-titled debut in 1993. And indeed – NE have taken the position as America’s answer to electronic mastery rather than become dabblers in the plethora of musical styles as shown by bands today. Better to be kings at one than jesters in all, says I.

For some reason, Count Zero doesn’t grab me as much as Symbols did, but nonetheless it is a beautiful workup of mesmerizing beat-cracks and synthesized data-noise. It’s highly danceable, extremely rhythmic and is not something you should listen to from a vantage point or chair of any type. Get up, man, get up! Shake those boots and keep stepping! As proof of the need-to-dance mood of NE I give this; they list the Beats Per Minute for all the tracks. That’s something I haven’t seen in a while!

Noxious EmotionHighlight tracks on Count Zero, for me at least, seem to come moreso after their mid-CD breakdown piece – Count Zero (The Present). After this comes music that winds down into the final track of the CD, The Past. The three time-tracks, as I call them, also include The Future which kicks the album off. These are sample-ridden breakdowns rather than songs themselves – setting you up for the rest of the true tracks. They did the same thing with Symbols, only there the beat-breakdown tracks were riddled throughout the CD every couple songs or so. Here the structure to them is more rigid – more defined. The way time is defined – awesomely appropriate. Again we go back to the experience that is Noxious Emotion – when they put out a release, everything about it is themed to the central message in that CDs music.

Tracks to listen to include Street, the first of The Future series and second track on the release. The beat track throughout Street remains pretty constant. The melody is expectedly synthy with floating chord progressions carrying it along from one measure to the next. It’s standard, well-done and well-prepared electronica and a strong opener to Count Zero. Much farther along and into The Present section of the disc is a track called Crawl Kingdom. “I am nothing, I am enough,” are the trading lines of this track, a much more guttural sound with robotic vocals and lots of data-like blips and chirps. Very well put together with techno-heavy breakdowns and a fast paced, rumbling bass line. Then there’s Count Zero’s fourth track, Boundary, a song that starts on the slower side and trances in with my favored NE computeresque style – again it’s the sound of the data. It’s a very strong and pointing song, naming the Christian Coalition even. The vocals are barbed with metal and fully hateful. “Liar! Liar! You fucking liar!”

Noxious Emotion’s Count Zero is a strong release. There is nothing too new – it’s all things you’ve heard similarly from Mentallo or Leather Strip. But it is some of the best released electronica you’ll ever hear. Not new – just better. While Count Zero didn’t drag me into itself like NE’s release of Symbols did, and I can’t quite put my finger on why, it stands on its own. And when you consider that this CD was released previous to Symbols, you can see an undeniable upward trend as NE matures and continues to perfect their chosen style of music.

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Mail: ADSR Musicwerks, 1106 E. Republican, Seattle, WA, 98102
Phone: (206) 320-TWEEK

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