Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November 18, 2008: Album of the Day Vol. 40: 16 Bitch Pile-Up - 2007 - Bury Me Deep

Tiny Mix Tapes Reviews

It’s doubtful you will hear a more genuinely seat-gripping moment of terror this year than the layers and layers of screams that swiftly disarm on the eight track of 16 Bitch Pile-Up’s first factory-pressed CD, Bury Me Deep. So much of noise or any audio artform that attempts to strike-up a series of discomforting unpleasantries for its audience is based more on hints and implications of fear rather than its actual emotional response. Sure, certain sonics may sound evil and undoubtedly sadistic, but it’s usually all in the realm of auditory gonzo gore rather than a deep-seated fright. Like the brunt of slasher movies, the joy is in the gross-out, not actually leaps in your seat. But Bury Me Deep is one of the very few listening pleasures in recent memory to produce a pronounced tremble in your stomach or force you to look embarrassingly over your shoulder as if an ominous presence has suddenly materialized in your sphere.

Like Nurse With Wound’s ghastly Homotopy To Marie and X.o.4’s Cataracts LP, Bury Me Deep is a rare album that assuredly sustains a distinct mood of dread throughout its entirety. And like those albums, Deep feels to have an M.O. of making its listeners squirm erratically in their seats as if something’s bound to burst forth from the speakers sans warning. Some snobs may feel subtlety in the noise genre is a cop-out, but 16 Bitch Pile-Up can provide invaluable proof that doing less can punish so much stronger.

The second track is the most successful at enrapturing through minimalism throughout its 18 minutes of low-rumbling grime. At points, it feels like there’s a very slight melody working at hand, but it’s hard to be really sure of what’s being elicited underneath. Regardless, it’s never peaceful, feeling like it could cut forth frantically at any moment, especially when some very faint voices appear deep in the lower recesses of the sonics at certain intervals.

Track four includes an orchestra of motorcycle rev-ups and crashes in the manner of the most sleazy of ’50s and ’60s teen exploitation flicks. This particular piece shares a very apt kinship with the record’s trashy splatter flick artwork, but unlike the most gargantuan of cinematic blood-spills, there’s something alien and off about 16 Bitch Pile-Up’s loving tribute to grindhouse muck. The only point where we get a perversely violent money shot is on the previously mentioned eighth track, where a series of screams give way to the silence of a creepy, pitched-up playthrough of an AM pop tune. But without question, the burbles, hums, and disfigured sounds surrounding pieces like the fifth and sixth tracks jar and jolt with as much vigor and class.

Bury Me Deep is a bit difficult to process upon the first listen, whether it be from the strange quasi-narrative of the pieces or the fact that 16 Bitch Pile-Up have built up a strong reputation in the noise underground while remaining fairly inscrutable and scarce (like many, their long series of CD-Rs, 7-inches, and splits have gone very out-of-print). Yet coming back to Bury Me Deep reveals an incredibly nuanced and pronounced craft, one that requires patience and open-ears rather than a knack for instant gratifications. This is what puts Deep in line with the best horror and gore flicks: an obvious glee for transgressive filth, but an artistic imagination that confounds the standard assumptions for what makes both art and the genres its aligned with. 16 Bitch Pile-Up may not burst forth with the catharsis of the best harsh noise-niks, but their understated disquietude is just as shocking and exciting.

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by Paul Haney

16 Bitch Pile Up Live in 2006

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