Aube – Variable Ambit

Be it some sort of oddly morbid fascination, but on top of striving to find the best music out there, I also find myself attracted to albums that are universally panned and considered the ‘worst’. It is indeed interesting how everyone may own a different set of ears, but when it comes down to it, we can agree on some things generally speaking. Yes’ ‘Close To The Edge’ is a masterpiece of prog rock, Iron Maiden’s ‘Number Of The Beast’ is a classic for heavy metal, and so forth. But perhaps for the same psychological reasoning that made Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ such a hit, I’ve found myself drawn towards Aube’s ‘Variable Ambit’, an album that was described to me by a new friend as one of the worst things imaginable. While there are albums like ‘St. Anger’ that people love to hate most often, I get the feeling after even sampling what ‘Variable Ambit’ is all about that it may very well not only be one of, but the most unpleasant album I have ever heard. I wish I was joking.

First, it should be covered that I am not opposed to ‘noise’ music, there is some that I actually like quite a bit. Ambient music is also no problem for me. However, when music literally causes physical duress while listening to it, there can be a problem. Aube opens up this album with one of the most cringing sounds I have ever heard; a high pitched beep that was physically painful to hear regardless of how low I turned the volume down. The first three seconds of ‘Variable Ambit’ should cover why I hate this. While even one high pitched electronic bleep would have put me off the album for good, the sound keeps repeating; getting more painful as your ears beg you to mute it.

To prove that I have in fact listened to the album (and am sorely regretting it), the title track ‘Variable Ambit’ and ‘Ambush’ are the two tracks which feature this high pitched bleeping the most, and regardless of how open your mind is to music, the sheer frequency may result in a migraine, so you are warned. Apart from that, there is some electronic ambiance of a lower register that is nothing pleasant to listen to, but is at least interesting in the way the sound is tweaked and mechanized. A droning hum that the noise musician here noodles around with can make some pretty strange sounds here, but there is the feeling that there was absolutely no purpose to what he is doing here, instead tending to fiddle around with his equipment seemingly at random. While that would be worth saying some negative things about in the first place, it seems like gold when compared to the dreaded bleeps. And while it would often be narrow to focus on one sound in reviewing an album, that’s what composes much of the album’s sound.

If five seconds of this album could cause me pain, then I could never recommend this to anyone, not even an intense fan of noise music. Calling this album horrible stops becoming a matter of personal taste once the sounds start damaging one’s hearing range. Perhaps the album can be used as some rite of initiation in the Yakuza to make sure only the strong are admitted into their ranks. Atrociously bad.

Tracklist:

1. Ambit
2. Strayed Base
3. Strayed Base Oblique
4. Crocked Fringe
5. Vector Inside
6. Ambush
7. V/A
8. V/A R

Line-up:

* Akifumi Nakajima – all instruments

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