Ike & Sue “69” Stirner
Reviewed by Kent Manthie
The newest release by Tony “Ike” Stirner & his wife, Sue, entitled Τὸ Μεγα Θηρίον, is a 3-song EP which is really out there, in a netherworld of starkness and deep obsession with machinery and metallic industrial ambient-drone sounds, released on the netlabel, Het Donkse Oog. To find out more about the label, go to www.hetdonkseoog.bandcamp.com
Stirner, himself has a fledgling netlabel going, Skum Rex, available by going to http://skumrex.blogspot.nl/.
These netlabels are becoming a great alternative to indie labels and of course major labels, which goes without saying, but it’s indeed a really easy way to get one’s music out there instead of having to release it on your own, with no support, etc. This way there is so much more stuff available these days that, say, even 20 years ago would’ve been next to impossible to get out there, except to record it yourself and distribute by yourself, sell it either at a local indie record shop with whom you’re friendly or that is supportive of you and your work and sell it by mail order in addition, by putting a few ads in local weeklies, fliers you can get friendly coffeeshops, record stores, clubs, etc to put up with a poster of your album cover with the name of the band and title of record at the bottom along with the way one can purchase it, plus a little description or whatever… Those were the old days. Now, with the internet, there’s so much more one can do as far as marketing ones music or art, writing or whatever, without dealing with dinosaur record labels, publishers, etc.
Three songs comprise this album: “Altered States of Consciousness”, “Cup & Sword” and the title track closes out the album.
On the first song, “Altered States of Consciousness”, there is a factory-sounding cacophony of buzz and humming that goes on and on, indeed, it does serve as a vehicle to an altered state of consciousness. If one focuses closely enough on it, one can descend into a sort of trance. It’s a ten-minute piece that starts out ominously slow and dark, then builds up to a crescendo of noisy busyness that whips one into a near frenzy; in the wrong ears it could spark a riot, cause an unstable boy to run amok in an Indochinese village, chopping everyone he sees to bits with a cutlass. But in a stable, developed mind, especially one that is very hip to experimental chop-shopping, it can really build up to a great tidal wave of a trip – sort of like experimenting with LSD-25, or yage, peyote, harmaline, etc. but without the drag of a comedown. The ending of the song starts cooling off and tapers off in a harmless fashion, like a red sunset going down amid burning cinders.
The second cut, “Cup & Sword”, is another interesting study in both stamina and transference. It can sometimes serve as a sort of “Rorschach” test for those whose outlooks aren’t certain – someone might see or hear certain things inside it. It reminds me of the kind of “test” one can play on oneself on an intense LSD trip: turn on the TV set and find a channel where there is nothing but white noise and “snow” – you know, that static-y, fast-moving picture, where, normally, one would see nothing except just a white picture, with black and grey sparks moving about, but to the person whose peaking on acid and who stares at this picture for ten minutes, 20 minutes – even an hour, he sees all kinds of forms, shapes, sometimes even a stagnant personality staring back at him. That is what “Cup & Sword” is like. Very intense.
Lastly, the title track closes out the album. It is, at any rate, my personal favorite. It has a more mellow vibe to it and is peppered with samples of voices – sounds of what seem like radio transmissions, contorted, warped voices that pop up here and there, surrounded by sparking atmospheric transcendence that figuratively washes over the body and can take over your id for the duration. I think this is a great song to end with – it leaves the listener with something cerebral to mull over after it’s all finished. What an amazing work: details galore and layers and layers of soundscapes that are akin to an abstract expressionist painting – what does it mean, anyway? That’s what many art-lovers, museum goers, etc ask themselves or their company while staring at the piece. The same thing applies to this album: what does it mean, exactly, anyway? Well, I’m sure that Stirner had his own vision in mind when he created THE GREAT BEAST. And the music surely lives up to its name. It is surely a beast of burden and a beast, musically – a wild, rampaging organism that seems, at first, to be a wild, raving lunacy, but when listened to closely, the curious finds a meaning of some sort – whether or not it’s the one that Stirner himself had in mind when he made the album. That’s the great thing about abstract art in general – that one doesn’t always have to follow “the rules” so to speak and strictly interpret what the artist had in mind, even though that does help answer many questions a lot of the time, But if answers are not forthcoming, one can make ones own sense of it and interpret as they may and create a meaning of their own for the work. This can be said of THE GREAT BEAST – it can interpreted anyway you choose. Just as long as you get something out of it. I’m thinking Stirner probably had something in mind.
Check out his webpage – or his netlabel’s page for more information. But definitely, if this kind of stuff is what you are into, you need to hear this and if you’d like a psychological stress test, this is it. Either way, enjoy!! – KM.