Beauty School – Residual Ugly (2015)

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Ever since the Oakland, CA free noise trio Street Priest dropped More Nasty last year, I’ve been craving for even more of that nasty.

Residual Ugly by Beauty School is close enough to satiate such cravings.

That’s because Beauty School has the same drummer (Jacob Felix Heule) and bass guitarist (Matt Chandler) as Street Priest; only guitarist Kristian Aspelin is swapped out, for Tom Djill (trumpet, electronics). The lineup didn’t change the basic strategy, which is to launch frontal assaults on what everybody think of as ‘music’ with extemely alien, extremely random and yes, extremely nasty cacophonies that make the perfect way to purge conformist thoughts about sonic art from your brain.

The death rattle of bass strings collide with the sounds of a creaky building slowly collapsing and there’s also the occasional sine waves and buzzy drones. The only thing conventional is that the performances are divided up into discreet, mostly radio length tracks, but with “A1”, “B1” type song titles.

Both Djill and Heule are generating twisted circuited noises, but with this unique brand of electro-acoustic, it’s hard to know where the “acoustic” stops and the “electro” begins, which is to say, they blend it all in thoroughly. That will usually happen when the blender is set to “liquify.” I’m not even sure where the trumpet is played, though I think it managed to emerge from the wreckage on “B4”.

Sounding like machinery from a garage, a dentist office and a tractor factory put in the same room and operated by kids encountering it all for the first time, the whole randomness and open-endedness of the process is actually kind of liberating. It’s fun to be surprised when listening to music sonic art, and on the creepy and uncompromising Residual Ugly, there’s surprise contained within every single second.

Residual Ugly is now available on cassette, or purchase a digital copy of some sweet, sweet noise for just four bucks.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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