Hair Police - "Breathing In Conflict" (The Empty Quarter)
In today's lexicon of noise groups, Lexington, Kentucky's Hair Police are firmly ensconced in the upper echelon. As a part of the noise axis encompassing Wolf Eyes, Burning Star Core, Prurient and the like, they've toured extensively and released albums on Troubleman, Load, and others. The Hair Police sound is a grimy sort of scuzz that primarily eschews the all-out assault of artists like Government Alpha and Stimbox, instead generating waves of rumbling, buzzing sound thatís more ominous than aggressive. If anything, it harkens back to Boy Dirt Car's crusty almost-noise.
Recorded from Jan-Mar 2007 in the not-so bustling town of Ypsilanti, Michigan, The Empty Quarter is a brief half-hour divided into five tracks that play like a harrowing journey through murk-filled horrors. It's a bit like a carnival spook house ride that really means business, from the opening buzzing and crackling of "A Dead Bell" through the not-quite funny vocal grunts and squealing feedback of "Breathing in Conflict." Much of the album is slightly soothing drone, albeit bubbling with uncomfortable electrical glitches and the occasional explosion into screeching noise.
Despite some moments of brain-scratching intrigue (see the opening few minutes of "Out of the Empty Quarter"), the problem is that there's nothing much new or special here. Hair Police have, to a great extent, done this before, as have most of their cohorts, and it's hard to escape the feeling that this isn't much more than a footnote. Those who can't get enough likely won't be disappointed, but ultimately The Empty Quarter is a redundant item in the band's discography.