From the fearsome opening explosion of electronics in “0415”, it is blindingly obvious that Touch have given KK NULL free rein to carry out all manner of sonic assaults in the name of art.
Rarely do Touch depart from their idiosyncratic comfort zone, except in unique circumstances, and this release is one of those. NULL, former Zeni Geva frontman, and a legend in the noise underground since the early 90’s, has formerly released on Touch in the relatively safe company of z’ev and Chris Watson, his extremist tendencies being kept in check by his collaborators. On “Fertile”, NULL goes full throttle, and draws from an impressive armoury of source material, ranging from overdriven and heavily skewed field recordings from the Australian outback, to swathes of angular, warped electronica, industrial metal beatings, and all points in between.
All of the tracks are nameless, and are instead assigned numerological titles such as “0357”, or “0644”. These could be the numerical classifications of some twisted cryptozoological menagerie, or parts numbers for a host of rogue psychotic cyborgs. These anonymous, and apparently insignificant title numbers suit the work perfectly, as (freely associating) interpretation of these pieces could be anything from the sounds of deep space alien environments, to the rabid imaginings of an escaped lunatic. Tracks like “0957” come over like Masami Akita (Merzbow) on sedatives, but aural anaesthetic this is not. That is not to say that Fertile is without subtleties. NULL’s strength lies in his impressive handling of tension and resolve, gradually building crystallised, layered edifices of sound that suddenly and spontaneously dissipate into the ether, and emerge as something entirely different, even beautiful at times. Throughout though, there is a sense of deep foreboding, the feeling that all is not well, and NULL plays on this spectacularly, creating audible images that are un-nerving, almost filmic in their presence.
Comparisons in this situation are futile, but I would liken NULL’s compositional technique to Christian Renou, the unsung genius of Musique Concret, and mastermind of Brume, whose work reflects an equally masterful hand. From the slick production to the understated beauty of the cover design, Fertile is one of Touch’s more radical releases of recent years, but will, I am sure, emerge as one of the most memorable. Fine work indeed. BGN