A complete mishmash of sounds competing, blending, overlaying and combining, this 1987 recording comes from a particularly active, at least from the standpoint of releases published, period of this Canadian group’s history. Formed in 1985 to take advantage of an opening slot on a Chris & Cosey concert, the ensemble kept busy through the mid-1990s, eventually disappearing for a while after their 1992 CD for Artware Production in Germany, and finally reforming in 2006. This disc reconnects the two halves of a live performance at The Fallout Shelter in Toronto which were originally split into two cassette releases for Harsh Reality Music and Corrosive Tapes. The music is created from synths, beatbox, cello, guitar and a fair amount of material from pre-recorded tapes. While definitely in an experimental mode, it does avoid falling into the industrial or noise realms so popular at that time as it relies so much on free improvisation. A comparison might be made to H.N.A.S., who were their label mates on Freedom in a Vacuum, and to whom they were absorbed for a one-off H.N.A.S. concert in Toronto in March of 1991. But while H.N.A.S. would drift into the more musical and song based material, Violence and the Sacred keep to a queasy miasma with the voice taking the role of narration. Read by St. Deborah, the majority of the text seems to be drawn from the influential proto-surrealist novel “Les Chants de Maldoror” by Le Comte de Lautréamont. Her voice occupies a forward position, not being obscured by the musicians, although disappearing from the performance for several minutes at a time. The more occluded voices come via the tapes added by the three musicians: Scott Kerr, Graham Stewart, and Ted Wheeler. While many of these sources appear to be drawn from the detritus of popular culture, I also recognize bits of Jim Roche’s monologues and what might be a bit from a Jodorowsky soundtrack. Besides the textual orientation of much of the disc, the music seems apart from the strictly experimental realm due to Ted Wheeler’s languorous guitar soloing throughout. The shifting path does keep a consistent dynamic throughout, never becoming overly bombastic or minimal. Packaged in a four-panel Digipak, the cover includes a few shots of Cal Woodruf and Wheazel Lizard’s multimedia (slids, films, video and projections) visuals from the concert.
Viosac – VATS8