LP Edition of 300Back when I was about six months older than I am now, I used to see these bumper stickers around town that said, “There is Nothing Like a Grateful Dead Concert.” My first reaction was to say, “Thank Fuck,” since the last Dead show I saw (Jersey City 8/6/74) pretty much blew. Then I remembered that last goddamn Dead show anyone saw was almost twenty years ago (Chicago 7/9/95) and it makes me wonder what kinda stupid pills the cars’ occupants have been snorting. ‘Cause jesus, there’re all sorts of things like a goddamn Dead show. I won’t name ’em since they mostly suck. But there are plenty of ’em. What there are not plenty of, is things like a Noise Nomads show. If you ever saw one, you know what I mean. Caveman percussion, noise and action all mooshed into a huge art-apocalypse that happens one time and then never happens quite the same way again. Jeff Hartford — Mr. Noise Nomad, himself — approaches every show like a happening, and he creates a vibe and vision that will hang in yr head and ears long after the fire has burned out (as it were). He does the same thing with his albums, of which there have been three on vinyl previously. Realizing that visuals don’t mean DICK when yr listening to a record, Mr. Hartford cuts way back on the performance hijinks, and focuses on dastard electronics. His approach on Thrasher is to offer up two extended pieces, created from oscillating tones that are knobbed into pitch variations in a way that maintains equal levels of aggression and abstraction. In the studio, Hartford approaches synths less like the ass-up twiddlers of the recent past than the wilder analog brain-scramblers of early generations. The material on Thrasher reminds me a lot of guys who felt like they were creating “pure noise” back in the ’70s. Music that when revisited later showed itself to be complicated, textural, and really quite beautiful in ways no one imagined possible when they wrote their first review of Metal Machine Music. This is a great, time-warping set of sounds. Bending both contemporary time-as-heard and historical time-as-prologue. Good stuff. Although, still, there is NOTHING like a Noise Nomads concert. Nothing.
-Byron Coley, 2013