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V. - 'stYe
CD-R (Bethesda, MD)

-verify lunacy
-you're errors before
-waxing stupor
-you're debris
-endure beasts
-rescure urgent
-puffed snails
-flying sacred
-slight tables

James Guggino: drums, noise
Jeff Surak: homemades, hurdy gurdy, noise
Carl Merson: bass, guitar on selected tracks

(I Am Cancer) homemade electronics and computer beats, cut and paste bonanza. sound collage tipple and drones. an end of the evening party. the wind knocked the power out. drumming on the groucho kit. crammed full for quality assurance. beware i think the bricks are falling down. seventy three stories i think this disc just made a pass at me! - Chris Fischer

(Ampersand Etcetera 2002_10) In 2001_19 we reviewed a number of albums by Jeff Surak in a variety of groups, including V. which is his work with James Guggino (with some guitar from Carl Merson). Here they create a mixed texture using drums (Guggino) homemades and hurdy gurdy (Surak) and both on noises (there seems to be some violin/viola in here too). The first half or so of the album is shortish excursions (generally less than 6 minutes). 'Verify lunacy' has a rhythmic buzz crunch and jumpy violin cd, with drums coming in at the end. The percussion dominates the start of 'You've errors before' where it is mixed clattering and drumming: there are long sustained tones over which evolve into very celloish playing, with guitar descends added at the latter parts. The hurdy gurdy loops incessantly through 'Hjungle' with a noise and crackle, squeaks as well, which are finely modulated and developed through the piece. 'Waxing stupor' pairs the string notes and percussion, a bit of bass, almost delicate, manipulated a touch. There is almost a continuation into 'You're debris' of the percussion with a slowed string section, which becomes quite scratchy and then forceful, with a twanging sound reverberating through occasionally. Noise builds in 'Endure beasts' from a deep rumble, edgy sscratching and metallic percussion and tones. The first of two extended tracks, ' Rescure urgent' is an extended workout which is almost classically improv and works very nicely, while 'Puffed snails' moves through a number of stages (and possibly has parts – we are in another 10 tracks/12 titles situation – I will ignore titles 11 and 12) crackling with music playing behind, the pulsing percussive (still crackly), a subtle almost ambient cycling tone into a soft drone ringing in a buzz to a brief noisy conclusion. Finally clattering and sustained notes that develop a lyricism ('Flying scared') before a distorted pulsing piece of electronica. All in all a varied and intense album which is challenging but worth the effort as it comfortably straddles between the melodic and electro-noise, maintaining its gentler footing. - Jeremy Keens

(Blastitude no. 15) Puts their names on the cover (Jeff Surak and James Guggino) like it's some improvised jazz release but c'mon, they're called V. (nothing wrong with that for a band name) and they aren't improv, they're a no wave/noise duo, refreshingly minimalist too. Actually, maybe they're sorta "drone" -- they are instrumental -- but there's something edgier about it. Some of it could pass for Dome or some of the mellower loop-based moments from Nautical Almanac or Panicsville. In fact, the sound of freely improvised tail-chasing honk-jazz really raises its exhausted head on here, which makes it one of my favorite Public Eyesore releases for a while, since the Old Bombs/Wolf Eyes split and that hellish Yoko Sato guitar album. How's the length? Way too f********ing long. Did we really want V. to put out a triple LP? At least the music is really good. - Matt Silcock

(Dead Angel no. 53) More strangeness, although unlike much of the PE catalog, this does not appear to be aligned with free-jazz... rather, it's a series of experiments in minimalist scrunch-noise (or something like that). The band (whose name i may have wrong -- the cover makes it kind of hard to tell) is actually two jokers, Jeff Surak and James Guggino, doing perverse things with homemade gadgets, random percussion, a hurdy-gurdy, and occasionally guitar and bass. There are some nice, shuddering bass drones and high-pitched wailing on "you're errors before," what sounds like cds skipping (and much other sonic effluvia) on "hjungle," and crunched-up noises plus random clattering and percussion on "endure beasts." The hurdy-gurdy makes its grand appearance (i think) on the heavily-reverbed "rescure urgent" -- it sounds like a string section being disemboweled -- while "puffed snails" returns to the clatter 'n drone strategy. The noisiest, most grinding tracks are "verify lunacy" and "is-not," both of which will give you a headache if you listen to them too loud.... Actually, comparing the track listing to the actual number of tracks on the cd reveals that they don't match, so who knows if any of these titles match up accurately with the sounds. It matters not; if you're down with the noisier, more arcane side of PE's catalog (Fukktron, Hair & Nails, etc.), then this will be like manna to your swollen ears. - Pym

(Aural Innovations no. 23) The music covers a range of sound art and noise constructions. We hear droning waves alongside guitar and bass lines against Guggino's drumming; minimal pulsating and whining radio wave electronic patterns; dark and somewhat trippy atmospherics; free-improv noise and percussion workouts that employ interesting string scratching techniques; engine room industrial patterns, and oodles of UFO efx. Lots of good ideas here though it didn't consistently hold my attention. My favorite track is the very cool 17 minute avant cosmic space excursion with Rock & Jazz elements provided by Guggino's drumming. It's loaded with drifting electronic textures and dissonant space guitar. But along with the drumming it makes for a very interesting blend of hed music and free-improv, with some decent guitar and percussion work alongside continually shifting electronic patterns and alien efx. Overall I'd say it's the drumming and heavy duty alien trips that accounted for the highlight moments of this set. - Jerry Kranitz

(Bananafish no. 17) Lovers of music might leech more nutrients than I do from V's interfaces of free improv and noises on the 'stYe CDR (Public Eyesore), but when Jeff Surak and James Guggino stick to noise, homemades, hurdy gurdy, and noise, I find their purely electronic tunes quite filling. Anxious drones that twitter with Mellotronic compulsion gestures are hacksawed into weakened states until the duo anesthetizes the pieces. The excellent five-part, fourteen-minute suite "Puffed Snails" yo-yos fuzzed ricochets and spoor bombs through deadpan grunt atmospheres and elongated slime trails. The crackles of "Hjungle" are barely kept together in a tense electronic spritz that threatens to atomize completely. For the die-cut improv of "Endure Beasts," pachinko parlor snarls navigate between flexing claws popping up through holes in graphite mesh floor and rusty screech doilies zipping out of air vents, while the synchronized distorto-bloontt of "Is-Not" gyrates like oblivion's fuck buddy. - S. Glass

(Eld Rich Palmer no. 11) It took me some time to digest V.'s "stYe". When compared to "drone-unease" or "'Awrkid" it seems quite a tough pill. The music streams freely, meandering between semi-melodies and unelectrically generated (at least so it seems to my inexpert ears) noise. In action are: hurdy-gurdy, homemades, drums, bass, guitar, noises. If my memory serves me well, I haven't experienced any fears of confined spaces, so it's not easy for me to assess the accurateness of the term "claustrophobic free music" that its authors stick to it themselves, but there is much of uneasiness, displeasure and anxiety. Upon consulting my excessively vivid imagination (should I seek some professional treatment in this matter?) I can say that the notice from the cover matches the musical contents, for the most of this stuff reminds of visiting at night some huge, unoccupied and almost collapsed building. But there are also some more structured tracks here, in which looped electronic noises, glitches, and maltreated tunes appear. Intriguing, though demanding. Recommended. - Przemyslaw Chojnacki

(Aiding & Abetting no. 234) In which James Guggino and Jeff Surak play lots of games with noise. There are odes to distortion, white noise, found sound and just about every other sort of strange bit of recording you might think of in a year or two. What's most impressive is that these guys don't repeat themselves. Every piece is just as weird as the others in its own special way. - Jon Worley

(Neozine) Wasn’t too sure from the cover, so I hope the name and title are correct. It’s a wacky, wild and fun carnival ride in the clown car that is noise/experimental recording. This is mostly minimalist, with single layers of reverberation, cycling, and hummmmms invaded by squeals and screeches, and occasionally stuff that sounds like real instruments. No complaints. I found it kind of upbeat and interesting. If the sounds are pleasant, then it follows that the mood they induce is also pleasant. Its pretty damn close to musical. Kooky! Annoying, in that cute /baby crying sort of way. - C.H.C.

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