Album Review: KNIFEDOUTOFEXISTANCE – Cracks Below The Surface

KNIFEDOUTOFEXISTENCE is a harsh noise experimental electronic project based in the South of England, and Cracks Below The Surface is the project’s 4th full length record. The LP was produced by Cremation Lily (Alter, Opal Tapes, Monorail Trespassing) and is due to be to be released by Strange Rules on 27th September 2019.

According to KNIFEDOUTOFEXISTENCE (aka Dean Lloyd Robinson) the LP is their most dynamic and texturally rich record to date, stretching the project’s central themes into a cinema of refractive vocal manipulation, guttural low-frequency plosives and an increasingly precise wrangling of white noise and microphone feedback.

‘Widow’ starts off quite abrasive with snatches of vocals, then it takes a more melodic turn with snippets of old recordings of songs which give the track a very atmospheric feel.

‘Nocturnal Contrast’ has an all-encompassing throb with waves of caustic noise that act exactly like ocean waves. They wash over and over as samples of vocals come in and layer over the noise. A fantastic use of the noise genre. Absolutely gorgeous. That is until heavy beats and thuds of noise penetrate the beatific effects of the first third of the track. More caustic and harsh noise is introduced as the blasts of noise and the vocal samples increase to deafening levels.

‘Cohabit’ feels more like a field recording with levels of noise layered on. More vocals are introduced and the noise and immediacy of the track reaches a crescendo.

‘Tears over fresh make up’ begins with some brutal harsh noise, however it soon calms down to a more measured treatment of vocals and noise, but it’s still 6.45 minutes of difficult and unpleasant sounds that aren’t for the faint hearted!

Final track ‘Empty Vaults’ starts like beginning track ‘Widow’ ends. It’s full of atmospheric snippets of old recordings mixed together with haunting vocals. A gentle impasse at the 2 minute mark is slowly and surely invaded by a gentle build-up of industrial noise, screaming vocals, dense harsh noise and squealing feedback.

Across these five tracks, KNIFEDOUTOFEXISTENCE successfully traverses the fine line of unlistenable and unlikable. What Dean Lloyd Robinson succeeds in doing is present his art as ‘difficult’, but not so ‘difficult’ as to completely alienate the listener. It makes for uncomfortable listening at times, but the rest of times it’s incredibly immersive, emotive and cinematic in its depth and breadth.

This is not easy listening by any chalk, but if you are partial to some noise/harsh noise then KNIFEDOUTOFEXISTENCE’s latest LP would be a good place to start. It’s accessible as it is inaccessible. Unlistenable, as it is listenable. Likable as it is unlikable. None of it makes sense!! But you may just like bits of it. Just give it a spin now.

Review by Ioan Humphreys

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