Going back to the mid-90's, the obscure Austin, TX outfit Korperschwache (German for "organic decay") has issued a steady stream of releases into the deep underground that showcased a distinctive sound sitting at the strange nexus between the early UK noise rock scene, the skull-rupturing power of Japan's more extremist noise artists, the massive gravitational pull of the formless guitar crush of bands like Earth and the Melvins at their most art-damaged, and, in more recent years, a filthy, blackened, low-fidelity underbelly that hints at the mutated black metal of bands like Abruptum, Necrofrost, and Vondur. From the beginning, Korperschwache has consisted of mastermind RKF on guitar, noise and vocals, assisted by the loyal mechanical timekeeping of Doktor Omega and occasionally joined by outside contributors. Korperschwache first took form as a side project of RKF's droning industrial rock band Autodidact, but became a primary concern soon thereafter, releasing a steady stream of releases over the years on cassette, Cd-r and digital download on labels like Peasant Magik, Inam Records, Colony, Dark Winter Moon, Public Guilt, Cut Hands and our own sub-label Crucial Bliss, to name a few, usually in extremely limited editions made available to the band's small but loyal cult of followers. The majorioty of these older releases have long been out of print, especially the extremely limited cassette releases from the early days of the band; a longtime Korperschwache fan, I myself never had an opportunity to get my hands on those early tapes, which featured some of Korper's harshest noise-based material.
Now, in conjunction with the brand new Korperschwache album Evil Walks that has just come out on Crucial Blast, we've assembled a series of reissues of early Korperschwache releases, some of which have never been heard by anyone outside of the band's immediate circle. The early cassette releases that have been excavated here are very different from Korperschwache's newer Loop-meets-Abruptum industrial blackpsych sound, many centering around brutal, high-volume noise assaults heavily influenced by both classic UK power electronics (Whitehouse, Ramleh, etc) and Japanese harsh noise (Merzbow, Masonna, Incapacitants, Contagious Orgasm). The later releases from this period began to creep into more guitar-focused dronepower and hypnotic amplifier bludgeon, with material like that of Night Country Fog (Korperschwache's previously unreleased collaboration with Smolken of Polish avant black metal/doom folk band Dead Raven Choir) beginning to direct the sound into the often melodic, always twisted psychedelic heaviness of it's current incarnation.
We've made these early, rarely-heard Korperschwache releases available in two different forms: first, as high quality individual 320 kbps mp3 downloads of each album that include a digital booklet with liner notes and visual material for each release; and secondly, as a limited-edition boxset that contains all eight of these reissued early albums on Cdr, eight discs that total almost eight hours of material, each album remastered and on a disc with full color artwork, the set of discs packaged inside of a molded vinyl case with a set of insert cards for each release bound together with a black-on-black obi strip, a vinyl Korperschwache sticker, and a 1" Korperschwache badge, released in a strictly limited edition of 100 copies through the Crucial Blaze imprint.
The earliest Korperschwache release featured here is the Ovencleaner full length, originally released as a sixty-minute cassette in 1995 through RKF's own Monotremata Records. Like all of Korperschwache's early stuff, this is an orgy of harsh, grating noise, similar to much of the underground industrial slime that was creeping out of the mid 90's, but mostly generated using guitar. The four tracks of industrial psych sludge on Ovencleaner begins with massively distorted psych guitar crawling through a juddering mass of amp rumble on the opener "Your Shattered Spine", with it's slow motion doomed riffs and skittering dubby percussion awash in swarming hiss and fuzz, the drum machine malfunctioning later in the track as it sputters out fractured percussive fills and tinny, scrabbly faster-paced beats. Insanely high end garage riffs appear at the center of this howling storm of noise,
and it gets more chaotic and frenzied as it goes on, spastic thrashing drum machines dipping in and out of the cacophony of amp noise and feedback, descending into Incapacitants-style clots of violent scrapyard obliteration, then shifting into a weird noisescape of irritating electronic beeps, shuffling drums buried under layers of gritty distortion, and heavy waves of amp noise, ending up becoming something reminiscent of old Skullflower/Shock Records style dirge "rock". "Sand Swallower" follows with more monstrous harsh noise a la Incapacintas/Pain Jerk, a raging black maelstrom of distortion and feedback stretching over fourteen minutes, infested with all kinds of crackling cable noise, the might revving of infernal engines, shifting between a total wall of noise and more frantic electronic turmoil swirling over heavy slabs of guitar/amp drone. The next track continues with crushing noise and metal avalanche that feels like Tribulation/Strange Keys To Untune-era Skullflower hellstorm mixed with the more extreme junknoise side of the Japanese scene, a dense, psychedelic thirty-plus minute epic of brainscrape and glacial sludge guitar, almost like hearing Skullflower crossed with Incapacitants, later erupting into shrieking tape-noise carnage, demonic howls and massive gusts of granular noise, with pretty psych guitar chords buried beneath it all. The final track "Rubber Fetish" is a bonus track that has ends the album with a classic American industrial vibe, high pitched feedback stretched across a field of rumbling machine throb and chopped up loops, fluttering distorted signals panning from speaker to speaker, the hammering rhythmic noise suspended over massive rumbling frequencies.
The 1995 cassette Fangs Of An Angry God was also issued on Monotremata Records, and showcased five more lengthy tracks of psychedelic harsh noise and brutal feedback ecstasy from Korperschwache; this reissue adds on a sixth bonus track that was recorded in 1996. This second tape continued to move the band's sound further into a grueling smashup of grinding amp abuse, industrial noise and psych guitar meltdown, unleashing clanging guitar chords that ring out over smoldering black lavaflows and brutal clank and screech, the axe strings slipping wildly out of tune. Tracks like "The drowning pool" and "Hands of stone" are formless masses of squirming slack guitar slime and crackling distorted filth, the sound moving slowly, like sputtering magma waves of incinerating speaker vomit, flesh-rending cable noise and sheet-metal drag. RKF constantly spews fried-out psych guitar leads through waves of stentorian drone that rise and fall, while blasts of metallic crush reverberate in the distance, later transforming into massive, almost doom metal-like riffage that appears briefly beneath the noise. The rest of Fangs has cloudscape of feedback and droning buzz and grainy distortion, delay effects speeding up and slowing down amid snarls of cable buzz, and flashes of human voice and melodic guitar drift that become swallowed up in a viscous mass of heavy guitar drone and industrial-strength amplifier noise. The final bonus track "Vinyl Fetish" (carrying on the theme from the previous reissue Ovencleaner) matches juddering machine noise and diffused glacial guitar sludge beneath an array of electrical detritus and controlled fx-pedal mayhem. This ranks as one of the nastiest and gnarliest of Korperschwache's pre-Y2K cassette releases.
The 1996 Monotremata cassette A Fistful Of Nihilism is the third release from Korperschwache's early devestating guitar-noise/power electronics
mode, remastered for maximum skull-blasting power. RKF and the good Doktor erect more crushing monoliths of amp abuse here, starting with the churning black furnace of harsh murky noise of "Waiting for the number five", wading through low end rumble as they build a wall that stretches out for almost half an hour, forged out of swirling oceanic distortion, crackling bass frequencies, monstrous howling feedback, and titanic drones, a combination of harsh wall and industrial guitar drone with undercurrents of monstrous writhing doom. Total amp immolation that's part Total, part The Rita. It's trailed by the short harsh noise blast of "LOve Song", a screeching cacophony of demonic howls, droning feedback and crashing metal all drenched in delay, then returns to the massive flanged wall of distortion and amp noise for the third track, teeming with shrill high pitched feedback and spluttery low end crackle, emitting a vintage power electronics vibe of absolute bleakness and despair. "Discussing structure" continues with this, drowning the warbling bass tones in filthy feedback and pitchshifted vocalized horror, chunks of mangled guitar noise, juddering low end rhythmic rumble and brain-drilling feedback drone, which after a minute or so reveals an almost musical structure. "God of feedback" is another monstrous distorted wall, but beneath it can be heard bits of cinematic minor key melody on the verge of being obliterated by the inferno, almost like shades of a John Carpenter composition struggling to surface beneath an ocean of furious roar. The bonus track here is the delicately titled "Fistfucking hippies", which takes a very different approach; it's a mix of manipulated found sound and horrific vocals, a heaving, gasping industrial nightmare alive with panic-stricken voices being run backwards alongside stark metallic drones and hissing pneumatic pulses.
The 1996 cassette Blood Everywhere moves into more regions of harsh noise, but with masses of blasted, blackened activity lurking underneath of each track. "Castration on the installment plan" blends vicious black noise with what sound like ultra-distorted vokills and crumbling walls of blown out distortion and ultra distorted drums into a hellish blast that almost sounds like something from Canadian blacknoise band WOLD. This half hour epic rips through blurts of fractured guitar with hints of melody glinting through the brutally overdriven mass of noise, then settles into a strange woozy industrial driftscape with swells of wavering metallic feedback and hiss and crackle, a rhythmic pulse lost in the swirling sound, then builds slowly into a bulldozing wall of distortion and juddering engine noise while strange animalistic howls and roaring drift up to the surface. The second track "Godfucked" is of similar length but gets even noisier, starting with warped melodic noise, chirping feedback over ultra distorted guitar rumble and earthshaking bass frequencies that resembles the likes of Incapacitants or Government Alpha. The closing deathvision "Maggots feeding at the bottom of the deathpile" is an awesome fusion of overmodulated synth arpeggios and blackened noise that's structured into a menacing futuristic groove, and suggests what Merzbow might have produced if Masami Akita has been commissioned to score The Terminator. ultra heavy and apocalyptic, and one of my favorite Korper cassettes from the 90s.
The 1997 cassette Mywomanmywomanmyslave was released on the industrial/noise label Castrated Tapes, and contained nine tracks of loop heavy industrial doom-guitar and walls of abrasive noise, ranking it as one of the darkest and heaviest of Korpers late '90s tape title. From howling maelstroms of harsh noise, roaring distorted walls, psychedelic electronics and locomotive guitar-grind loops to brief passages of pounding drum machine rhythms and sped-up chipmunk pop music warped and stretched and run backwards, Mywoman blasts off into vicious storms of apocalyptic noise. On the heavier tracks like "Thrown to the wolves", Korperschwache creeps through industrial doom dirges with Skullflower-esque guitars lurking beneath the hiss and grind of pneumatic presses and buzzing halogen lights, while pieces like "Sand Storm" and "Rats In The Sewer" feature phased electronic drones and horrific screeching noisescapes and looped black ambience. Rumbling machine noise combines with melodious guitar ambience on "catastrophic Swarm", and "Spirochete" sculpts an Earth-style slab of disembodied sludge metal guitar and sends it floating through clouds of volcanic ash and sputtering magma, with eerie feedback keening in the distance, all of these sounds gradually melting down into a rumbling, spiralling mass of super heavy drone noise. The bonus track that has been added to the album is titled "Sinister Maggot", and ends it with the constant deathpulse of an iron lung heaving within a blizzard of static.
2001's Tumescent Love Songs For Psychotic Drifters is another previously unreleased disc that was recorded right when Korperschwache was evolving into a new level of heaviness, mixing the harsh noise aspects of the earlier material with more Skullflower-style guitar noise and ultra distorted industrial sludge, a super heavy and noisy assault that RKF would continue to shape all the way up to the latest album Evil Walks. Beginning with "The last vision of timothy mcveigh", the band drops a skull-rupturing din of roaring psych-guitar overload and amplified buzz that is super distorted and blown out, the Skulllflower-esque dirge made up of heavy wrecked riffs and clusters of high-end melodic keyboard-like notes, jittery electronics and sludgy guitar chords awash in massive amounts of distortion and feedback. A crushing wall of noise and apocalyptic keyboard drone is erected for "Cold fusion device", and is shot through with buried guitar melodies and blasts of metallic percussion, evolving into a slow, excruciating noise dirge that starts to resemble the likes of Wicked King Wicker or Hedorah or some similar industrial noise-damaged mecha-sludge heaviness. The next three tracks are all likewise crushing and blown out and speaker wrecking, but these overloaded noise-dirges are much more melodic, with shoegazey chord progressions uncoiling beneath immense layers of howling hiss and swirling static and distortion, at times resembling a Jesu song being remixed by Incapacitants, the rhythmic pounding seeming to come from sheets of scrap metal being pummeled by sledgehammers in slow motion, a syrupy Godflesh-like machine grind. Then there's the immense blastfest of "Scenes from the Navidson House", a vast furnace of harsh noise roaring over buried blasting drum machines, industrial rumblings and staticky voice transmissions. The closer "Nyarlathotep (reprise)" finsihes the album off with a short return to the earlier track with a raging storm of white noise and static swirling around a slow heavy drumbeat and droning keys.
Crafted over the course of three years, the unreleased 2004 album Der Antikrist is Korperschwache in earth-rending blackened drone mode, each track built from layers of crushing wall noise, massive distorted doom-laden powerdrone, and deformed sludge riffs. It's some of the band's heaviest stuff. A deep bass pulse introduces the massive twenty minute opener "Entropy eats at the cosmic firmament", which opens up into fields of thick, murky guitar drone, dissonant chordal dirges and endless swirling hiss, like a more doom-laden and dismal Skullflower jam, noisy and slow and hypnotic and drenched in amplifier buzz and distorto guitar and blackened tremolo riffs. A deep, achingly pretty oboe-like melody repeats throughout the track, surrounded by clouds of hiss and acid-damaged guitar and droning bass rumble, the music fading in and out of view, sometimes receding completely into the sea of hiss. The following track is other twenty minute long monster and is even more abrasive. Clanking machines pound and grind in the background as the air is filled with bass-heavy blackened sludge and choked with sonic grit, a lopsided free-rock dirge buried under several feet of broken concrete, sputtering blown amplifier speakers, and distortion pedals cranked into the red. On "A guided tour of ghost empires (last stop: auschwitz-birkenau)", however, the guitars are removed completely, leaving us with a crackling ocean of amp hiss and cable noise that flits from speaker to speaker, recalling some of the static walls favored by Werewolf Jerusalem but with a steady bass throb emanating from deep within the fuzzy depths, emitting an atmosphere as bleak and somber as the subjects of the title.
The disc ends with the percussive mechanical hiss and throb of "Ich bin der antikrist", the sound of machines hammering away in concert beneath a veil of ashen keyboard dronedrift and more of that black static that chokes every pore, and covers every inch of this relentlessly grim album.
The most recent of the "excavated" Korperschwache albums is the 2005 album Night Country Fog, a collaboration with Smolken from Dead Raven Choir/Wolfmangler that, for some bizarre reason, never received any kind of formal release until now. This is pretty surprising, as Night Country Fog is one of the best of Korperschwache's considerable catalog of releases, and is possibly my favorite of all of the unearthed "lost" Korperschwache albums that we're releasing. It's the one that hews closest to the strange basement black psych dirge of Korperschwache's more recent material, but at the same time is very different from Korperschwache's other releases, a kind of amp-noise soaked funeral folk dirge, like what I would imagine one of those Belgian psych covens would sound like if one of their midnight forest jams was invaded by a wave of skuzzy HeadDirt Records-style guitar filth. Smolken's cello figures prominently on this album, and gives Night Country Fog much of it's strange, creeping folk feel.
The first song (and these are all definitely songs, and not just assaults of noise) "Afternoon" begins the album with a hazy, slow-moving cloud of strummed guitar chords and gauzy feedback drifting and unfurling beneath the sounds of birds singing and forest noises and distant sirens; the guitars are pushed to the background, heavy but not oppressive, and the clanging chords and thick clusters of dirgey rumble form into a surprisingly pretty wash of almost dreampop-like melody. The sounds of wind chimes and strange scraping noises surface intermittently while the chord progressions shift into slightly darker directions, winding this ten minute song through varying degrees of light and shade. Towards the very end, a damaged stringed instrument (banjo? a heat-warped guitar? Smolken's cello?) is slowly plucked and scraped as the swirling mist slowly dissipates. With the next track "Evening", the music suddenly transforms into something much more abrasive and unfriendly, a thick amp fug surrounding strains of keening feedback and slippery detuned strings, softly plucked guitar notes and Smolken's grief-stricken cello as darkness slips inexorably over the rumbling drone jam, while the chirping birds and field recordings are slowly overwhelmed by swells of sinister fx and black static. As the album moves into "Night", the reverberant guitar is loud and booming as it slowly crawls across the now-nocturnal soundspace, playing a gorgeous melancholy chord progression while night sounds emerge all around, the buzz and chirp of crickets melting into the warm gusts of feedback and hiss that uncoil out of the amplifier, and something scrapes at the door while a train blares it's horn way off in the distance. "Around midnight" is made of similar stuff, slowly drifting electric guitars riding on waves of euphoric feedback and wavering sheets of drone, awash in that ever-present amplifier hiss, again surrounded by nocturnal sounds, the effect mesmerizing and beautiful; towards the end, though, a myriad of jarring sounds intrude, a grinding locomotive chug, crashing sounds, scraping metal, a growing din of industrial racket that leads into the last song "I heard the ghost train call my name (as the wheels went rolling by and by)", where the beautiful, cathedral-sized folk guitars are pushed down beneath the rumbling machinery and howling factory noise.