sunnyvale noise sub-element are a three-piece experimental electronic band from oxford and london, formed in 2000. initially conceived as an experiment in improvised electronic music, early compositions were hour-long slabs of sound, utilising the likes of glue, crisps, clockwork toys, and kitchen utensils alongside the standard array of programmed rhythms, samples, guitars and effects. these early dissections of noise have developed into more defined song structures, eventually delineated into the current fractured cut ‘n’ paste avant-noise that has seen the band tagged as the sound of ‘kraftwerk remixed by shellac’.
Nightshift, Oxford's music magazine:
given how established sunnyvale are on the local scene, both as leading propagators of avant-rock noise and organisers of the annual audioscope festival, it comes as a bit of a surprise to discover that 'techno self harm' is the band's debut release (aside from their contribution to last year's four-band 'asking for trouble' compilation). still, it takes time to capture and properly distil all that vicious electronic noise.
if coldplay-inspired fluffiness is your bag, look away now. sunnyvale have nothing you could effectively call a song, but there is a sternly-adhered to coherence to each of their passages of dissonant, rhythmic noise so that they never risk falling into the abyss of random, self-indulgent art-for-art's sake that too many practitioners of experimental music fall all too willingly into.
lead track 'techno self-harm' flutters and stabs its way through typewriter rhythms, spasticated funky beats, gurning guitar liks and a stubborn refusal to sit down and behave like a good little tune. heck, you could almost dance to it if someone plugged you into the mains and fed you pure base speed. 'how spiderman was tricked by his wife' is more oblique and cinematic, while the exhaustingly-titled 'there are already enough photographs of people and doors' is an ugly gruel of synthetic belches and crunching guitar and bass blasts, kind of like an unhappy but oddly effective mashup of coil, shellac and something unpleasant that lurks in warp records' kitchen cabinet and likes playing with cutlery. by comparison, the thankfully briefly-titled 'cow' is a picture of calm with its gently spangled guitars and slow rising tide of tension. ambient coffee table music, then. for people who don't like coffee and think tables are for practising power tools on.
Nightshift, Oxford's music magazine:
Three piece Sunnyvale Noise Sub-Element experiment in electronic compositions creating droning monolithic slabs of noise. Combining cut and paste sampling that is both confusing and intriguing with razor sharp guitars that cut through the white noise to give each song a backbone. It avoids the stigma of its 'experimental' tag in that while it constantly challenges the listener it remains accessible, keeping its structure and not descending into completely unintelligible realms. Each song has a fractured, discordant timeline - they jump from scatter-gun samples to cyclical rhythms while being torn apart and rearranged by the interspersed guitar interludes. Like a soundtrack to Dr. Who fighting the Daleks in the midst of a rip in the time-space continuum.
I was immediately intrigued by this CD because of Field Records other signing Ann Arbor, and also the arty look of the release.
'Techno self harm' has a very edgy drum and bass atmosphere and rhythm to it, with an air of dark melody hypnotically waving around in the background. There are interesting sounds and twists with the theme, some good guitar sounds repeating and building as the song progresses and a strong, upbeat song takes form. 'How Spiderman was tricked by his wife' as an alternative is downbeat, more towards a Mogwai pace but with an electro beat back up. It has a slight Autechre drift and rhythmical hypnosis but with added plucking and jangling guitars for a further twist.
The sneeringly titled 'There are already enough photographs of people and doors' immediately grabs me with its film score-esque dark ambient drama, and is the stand out track in my opinion. Minimal, suave and quite unsettling at times before some brilliant drum ideas and rattling, echoing guitars tamper with your state of mind, almost reminding of Godflesh and some of their remixes. I was almost expecting some high end floaty vocals over the very Sigur Ros inspired work 'Cow' before some more disturbing ambient noises followed by immaculately pieced together beats and bass sounds that swirl, clatter and harmonize brilliantly during the live version of 'Techno self harm'.
A very intelligent and dynamically impressive piece of work.
Raw Nerve website
Raw Nerve Review
Back in Blighty now, and there's Sunnyvale Noise Sub-Element who make excellent messed up sounds on their Techno Self Harm EP on Field Records. Pick of the crop for me is the wonderfully titled 'How Spiderman Was Tricked By His Wife', which starts with a distorted P.i.L bass rumble, stumbles over some glitch electronica washes, and then settles down into a groove that comes over all Ui meets Playwrights, which is clearly no bad thing. Elsewhere the spirit of eclecticism lives on with forays into imploding rural landscapes ('Cow') and manic urban drum'n'glitch guitar infusions ('Techno Self Harm'). Great stuff.
They have sequencers, samples and guitars. They have a clear love of noise, Krautrock and industrial beats. They have (hey) a guitarist with the surname Borg and another who doubles up on 'pieces of metal'. This trio - from Oxford, or Sunnyvale, or perhaps a parallel dimension - you decide - make alien soundtracks for your iPod as you surf the sands of Mars, wander the darkened streets of Amityville, or wake up the morning after the end of the world. (four stars)
Is This Music
Ce trio s'est form il y a d'j' cinq ans quelque part entre Oxford et Londres. Peut �tre perdu sur la M4, il aura fallu cinq ans pour qu'il sorte un premier EP. Ce temps ils l'auront pass' apprivoiser leur son et distiller leurs id'es. Comme une liqueur qui a besoin de vieillir pour concentrer ses ar'mes, les uvres de Sunnyvale Noise Subelement pouvait durer jusqu une heure leur gen'se avant de finalement trouver leur forme finale de quelques minutes.
Ces morceaux sont concentr's en images et leur finition est minutieuse. Ce travail d'orf'vre sonore permet de faire la diffrence entre la musique bruitiste et la bouillie sonore, ou entre le chaos et le 'n'importe quoi. Ces bijoux qui d'rangent rappellent une version lectrique et instrumentale des morceaux les plus psych'd liques des Chemical Brothers, ou une vision simplifie des grand gourous de la musique industrielle : Einstrzende Neubauten.
Ce petit disque n'tant pas une bizarrerie pr's, les deux derniers morceaux sont aussi les plus s'duisants. Cow est probablement le morceau le plus accessible de l'album car essentiellement compos de guitares rappelant Mogwai et de petits bruits la Matmos. Le live qui cl't ce EP finit de me convaincre que ce groupe finira par se faire un nom, m'me compliqu.
Sound of Violence
It's instantly endearing to these ears if a record label decides to take risks, simply through having a passion for and belief in what you are releasing. Field records clearly fall into this category.
With Sunnyvale Noise Sub-Element (not exactly the most catchy of names), Field Records have found a group who want to seamlessly weld together organic and synthetic sounds. At the risk of sounding a bit arty, you can clearly make a link between this and the post-industrial world around us from the way we conduct our lives to the mesh of organic and synthetic elements that make up the average city.
Vocals would clearly have distracted from any such intent, and thus they are not indulged herein. Even if I am wildly, wildly off the mark (but I am allowed to be, of course) then it is clearly vocals would have caused an intrusion.
So what we have here for the plain English society is the mixture of lo-fi guitar work indelibly etched with the shards of indie rock, post-rock and post-punk, and odd, oblique synthesised beats and instrumentation. I failed the plain English test didn't I?
This leaves us with patchworks of sound of which to dive into that often hop between a beautiful idea and a background noise. It is a frustrating listen - but you cant help feeling that, again, this is entirely intended.
This just leaves you thinking that this could either be a mesmerizing live act, or simply a load of pretentious disjointed twaddle. At this point, I really feel I can't answer that conundrum.