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Noxagt - The Iron Point

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Artist: Noxagt

Album: The Iron Point

Label: Load

Review date: Jun. 23, 2004

Kjetil D Brandsdal’s early music, documented through a string of self-released cassettes and LPs, alongside high-profile releases on Corpus Hermeticum and Ecstatic Peace!, was some of the most singular sound created in the mid-’90s free-noise network. Waterlogged, drowsy, and viscous, his home recordings were often so introverted as to appear suffocating. That was part of their charm; internalized visions secreted through the slow gather of audio information. Interviews from the artist were short, obtuse, almost defensive, projecting visions of a loner recluse, but his comedic artwork on recordings by side projects like University Punx and Kjertil Del Brondo Group countered the presumptions. Brandsdal’s self-imposed mystery was not without an arc of sarcasm.

Noxagt started as another Brandsdal-related home-documented vision, with short bursts of maximum confusion plotted over a handful of 7” singles. Their first album, a compilation of previously released tracks, clocked in at around 40 tracks. Their line-up has since added Jan Christian L Kyvik on drums, and Nils Erga on viola. Kyvik and Brandsdal released a ragged, mean-toned 7”, Special Piss, on the Betley Welcomes Careful Drivers label in the late 90s, an appropriate embryonic representation. But when the trio turned their attention to the song structures and conventions of metal and grind, Noxagt took off.

Erga’s viola is the core disruption that throws Noxagt’s music off its notional genre-dictated axis. His sound takes in see-sawing drone-work, rough scouring, and shape-changer melodies that turn on a dime. As The Iron Point builds, the viola seems to accumulate the distortion and grit flinted off the other instruments. On “Thurmaston,” Erga reels off a seasick melody, all queasy scrapings and muddied tone. Brandsdal and Kyvik trade in more predictable moves, but to no less effect. Kyvik’s drums work rhythm and counter-point, only occasionally ‘falling back’ on approximations of blast beats, using those moments as punctuations; a sudden rush of blood to the head. Brandsdal’s bass is weighty and caked in filth. When all three lock in and push a song into overload, as they do on “Naked in France,” the experience is head-wrecking.

The Iron Point closes with a cover of Tom Rapp’s “Regions of May.” The original is drawn from Pearls Before Swine’s first album One Nation Underground; Noxagt capture an ascending chord change that the original performance touched on only fleetingly, and draws out its cumulative power. Where the primary text was equal parts voluble and tender, Noxagt explode the song, shaping it as epic architecture. And the choice of cover is appropriate. Pearls Before Swine’s music took the folk tradition and charged it with pharmacy and eschatological concern. Noxagt’s music does a similar thing to metal, introducing new kinds of avant tendencies into metal’s core epiphanies, drawing a long bow of drone through their impact-heavy songs. Perhaps metal truly is the folk music of the urban wasteland.

By Jon Dale

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