Kevin Drumm – Sheer Hellish Miasma:

It’s been hot this week in Sydney.

Not that dry-grill heat we get when our front yards independently combust and we have to fight fires. It’s that filthy wet heat – it was 34 degrees close to midnight on Monday night here – that shuts everything down. Computers stop working, sweat runs in drips off the fingers, and hair clings damp to the back of your neck in annoying little feathery spiders.

Everyone is a little nuts.  People sort of go ape-shit.  Traffic is wild and ennui soaked trains spill people like a tangled mess of intestines into colourless baking underground stations. I found myself clutching my bag more, standing rather than sitting, hating school children. That sort of heat messes with your mind and turns the other into a slippery space thief intent on breathing their hot body in gusts all over you.

It was the perfect atmosphere to get deep into Kevin Drumm’s Sheer Hellish Miasma.


I’ve heard single tracks from this brilliant album before. As a crucial part of my journey to music, metal played a large part and Kevin Drumm was heavily into Norwegian death metal when he made this album, so I’d heard it tooth- ripped apart in bites not bigger than I could chew. This week I decided the maddening fat wet heat was the perfect time to blast this into my head. This is sinus clearing music. Combined with the agonizing effluviant heat I was experiencing this week, it wracked and wrestled with my nerves and turned my slippery skin experience into a work of art.

‘Turning Point’, as crushing a piece of noise as you’re likely to hear – loops of crunching guitar abuse and heavily degraded analogue synthesizer are layered on top of each other creating a truly visceral cacophonous racket. That’s the opening to this brilliant disc. (featured on you tube inset above.)

Noise (for the uninitiated, this is ‘noise’ music) is a bit of an acquired taste, though it should be recognised that more and more people are getting into it these days.  I just read a 2007 review of the re-release of this disc and the writer exclaims that there are even GIRLS at some noise converts these days it’s getting so popular.  For me, it’s about the depth of experience. This music gets deep into you.



Don’t mind that initial irritation. The place to go is inside and into a mantra that repeats Everything You Resist Persists. Access to this music is through laying down your resistance to it. You are completely safe. Nothing will ‘happen’ to you if you allow yourself to work through some of your own internal barriers. What safer, more enjoyable way to do it than through music?  Trust yourself, and let the music in. These tracks turn into some else when you stop fighting it and it can work through you as it is supposed to. For the few days I filled my head with this, the heat irritation was high and I embraced the filthy black feel of a deeply intense environment that called forth some intense (to say the least) feelings inside.

Kevin Drumm started out as a guitarist, becoming an important player of prepared guitar in the Chicago scene, but quickly he began to turn his hand to radically noisier sounds, sounds which came to a head on this milestone work.



The album comes to a head with the twenty-four minute monster of a track ‘The Inferno’ (which incidentally features Boston noisy dude Greg Kelley on trumpet); a track which doesn’t so much make noise as becomes noise. This is the sort of track you need to literally give yourself to, losing control of your mind and becoming one with the pure, putrid stench of NOISE. As squealing, pulsating analogue synthesizers rise and fall over the oppressive crunch of Drumm’s guitar you are left with the metallic taste of blood in your mouth through your gritted teeth.

Felt through the liquid heat and combined with the environmental sounds of heavy traffic and squealing underground train impositions, this became a moment for me this week, and as a result I felt immensely connected to the music. That gripping churning feeling in my belly left me for the overwhelming expansive swell of the pleasures of all experiences. I’m so glad I waited (although I have to confess that was part accident part intention) for an extreme environmental moment to sink myself into the deep pleasures of this brilliant album and my first immersion into the world of noise. I read another review where a writer moved out into an intense snow storm with this blasting through his head. I imagine that would be something to experience. (so much of this album sounds like ice)

It certainly won’t be my last journey into the black churning world of noise.

Grab a listen to the album here.