1. suggestion for a new national anthem (10.2 MB)
2. secret handshake, hidden hand
3. compression and radiation
4. dent magic
5. pacific metals I
6. monster lobe (werewolf corps victory theme)
"This shadowy duo from Chicago are responsible for three previous releasesthe first being 2002's Principles of Sitting, the most recent last year's Ways of Sleepers, Ways of Wakers. Along the way, they've traced a sonic parabola that travels from raw noise improvisations to gaseous, mournful ambience, and Urmerica, initially, at least, continues the trajectory. This latest record is described as 'a dowsing rod of the [American] national unconscious' made in the wake of Iraq and Bush's 2004 re-election; and if that sounds portentious, check out track one, which is titled, with ponderous irony, 'Suggestion For A New National Anthem.' Luckily for Number None, it's an amazing piece of music, stretched out over nine aching, sombre, majestic minutes, rising and falling away, shot through with skeins of feedback, it's like vapourised essence of Low. Elsewhere, Urmerica is more oblique: stray fragments of found sound and disembodied field recordings wander into the mix, bringing with them a disquieting sense of non-specific alienation. Despite the overall sobriety, reinforced by the lengthy, spacious drift of the closing 'Pacific Metals 1,' Number None are still capable of bringing the noise with real effectthe brooding rumble of 'Monster Lobe' is counterpointed by rampantly processed high frequency oscillations. It's a buzz."
-Chris Sharp, The Wire #258, August 2005
"Roaring out with their 'Fourth Annual Retort', here come this batch of US underground geniuses with a strikingly assured set of six instrumental collective workouts. I've missed the first three in this series, which include CDs called Principles of Sitting, and Ways of Sleepers, Ways of Wakers. Little is known about these mystery guys, though they may be a duo called Chris Miller and Jeremy P. Bushnell from Chicago and may have some connection with a trio called Son Of Earth-Flesh On Bone. I've said this before about Mouthus, but it's hard to believe two people can make such a racket! These are home recordings, made in Illinois, Michigan and elsewhere during 2004-2005, and incorporate materials recorded in the field during that time.
"Many of the current crop of US noisesters have something to say about their home country these days – America is an endlessly fascinating subject, to be sure. Number None's bleak view of their homeland (starting with the satirical title) has clearly been influenced by terrorism, the Bush administration and other recent confidence-sapping events of the last few years; indeed this was recorded in the wake of the 2004 election. Their stance is borne out by the freaky collage on the cover – a jumble of corporate logos, images from the Revolution, skulls, bumper-sticker mottoes, Masonic symbols, targets…all strewn across the field in a sprawling visual 'belch'. Subtle!
"The music itself takes a subtler approach to its critique of the status quo, and 'Suggestion for a New National Anthem' has both grandeur in the music and a tough oppositional stance implied in its title. It's as close to being
a modern 'hymn' as I've heard performed in this sort of context…a slow and groaning dirge, rendered with deep electronic sighs and maybe some acoustical elements. A sad lament, this anthem certainly is informed by post 9/11 feelings and even more complex emotional states, perhaps asking questions about what national identity means. For another approach, see the Deep Listening CD by Zanana this issue. 'Secret Handshake, Hidden Hands' picks up on the Masonic references from the cover. Further grim drones, with the thoughtful addition of a swarm of locusts released into the room, and shrill tones of menace constantly inferred. Later, reverb and howling are used to take the music into a nightmarish direction. The masonic beginnings of America, as concealed within the dollar bill, are expressed in terms of an hysterical conspiracy theory coming true. Argh!
"'Compression and Radiation' is of course an accurate portrait of America's heavy industries at work. Not really, but it is one of this band's more percussive pieces, wherein the distorted and massively echoed and reverbed drumming actions manage to sound both metallic and plastic. With the addition of some mad scraping and squealing noises, this mad stuff becomes the work of possessed demons, amounting to a diabolical dance of mayhem. A real standout track, if you like chaotic and free-form noise augmented by a large dose of unhinged mental-mush. If all you want is plain weirdness, skip to 'Dent Magic', which is quiet, mysterious, and very short – it features the conjoined chanting and wailing voices of the duo, clearly aiming at something a lot more sinister than just levitating the Pentagon.
"'Pacific Metals 1' is, I surmise, a stock market report and/or a summary of the fluctuations in commodities trading for the last five years. Not really of course, but it involves a gentle scraping and whining sound which proves that Number None don't have to go for loud volume all the time. Perhaps the 'metals' in the title simply refers to the chosen musical instrument – you can't beat that old bowed-metal effect. This cut may be a little directionless and not as strikingly unique as rest of CD, but who could complain so far? The last track 'Monster Lobe' is pure electronic noise insanity, and as such veers more into Wolf Eyes territory than remainder of CD which could be read as a 'darker' variant of the Matt Valentine / Gang Gang Dance schools of thought. Be sure to check out the compilation Time And Relative Dimensions In Space, also on the REBIS label, for a further track by these primitive bozos. This one is a splendid release in anyone's book.
-Ed Pinsent, Sound Projector, August 2005
"Its not polite to kick someone when they’re down but sometimes certain things need to be put out there and while Urmerica isn’t totally explicit in its outright disgust with the current state of affairs in the US, it certainly intimates a fair level of defeat and betrayal.
"Having made hours of eclectically styled recordings in the wake of Bush’s second election win Chris Miller and Jeremy Bushnell have whittled this outpouring down into this six-track audio essay. Subtly documenting their discontent on “Suggestion for a New National Anthem,” they manage to sum up the huge international sigh / ‘how the fuck’ that happened the morning after. Beginning with a single drone that could well be born of the first note of “The Star Spangled Banner” ripped from its moorings leads into a sombre piece which speaks volumes about something lost. The Eno-esque melody of three notes begins to wear away slowly under the static of some messed up Basinski loops wearing out the song’s already defeated vibe into an ending of frayed nerves.
"The range of music that Number None touch upon here is a lesson to the majority of the burgeoning noise drone pack and almost as inspiring as the quality of the material. Number None turn their hand to the manipulation of field recordings with “Pacific Metals I” which matches radio transmissions with power hums and dock loading effects creating an atmosphere of intense industrial isolation. “Secret Handshake, Hidden hand”s slithering static insinuations give way to the threatening irradiating percussion of “Compression and Radiation” but it’s the layering of lost whispered secrets on “Dent Magic” that brings “Urmerica” to its peak.
"The insomniatic distant vocal line prayer manages to avoid any sentiments of fervency or communion. It just sounds lost. They even manage to resurrect the already zombified Throbbing Gristle with the Carter / Christopherson pulse of final track closer “Monster Lobe (Werewolf Corps Victory Theme).” Number None are pushing forwards and outwards with purpose."
-Scott McKeating, Brainwashed, September 2005
"Chicago based duo Number None, have recently released their fourth album “Urmerica”, a superb collection of drones that range from harsh to gentle and have a warmth and humanity running through them. It is hard to pick out individual track to mention as the whole album maintains the same flavour with variations slowly shifting within and between tracks. “Secret Handshakes, Hidden Hand” is typical sounding like a jet taking-off in slow motion, whilst “Compression And Radiation “ is the albums densest moment, a juggernaut of sound that rolls across anything in it’s path, the drivers barely in control, threatening to crash and burn at any time. Throughout the sounds are meticulously compiled each crackle, pop and scrape placed deliberately, adding texture and form, especially on “Dent Magic” which takes us deep into the caves of our ancestors before “Pacific Metals 1 “ turns the light out, leaving us seek within ourselves, the fragile drones leading us forward through time."
-Ptolemaic Terrascope, October 2005
"Some pretty harsh deep drone stuff from here in Chicago. Definite noise aspect to it -- maybe even, dare I say it, industrial? I swear I can hear the ghosts of Neubauten teasing through the din, with a depressing dystopian factory vibe throughout, audio scenes from inside an empty scorched urban industrial park. Not the most free-flowing gush -- maybe a little stiff -- but powerful, suitable, detailed, and the stiffness may be intentional. And then the shuffle takes me back for a re-listen to track one, "Suggestion for a New National Anthem," and damn, this sounds like some lost ultra-heavy prog instrumental. It can at least be my new anthem for the city of Chicago -- this noisy, busy, ultra-flat city seems like the right petri dish for growing this kind of sound. Plus, it's very hot today in Chicago, for like the 35th day in a row, a real climate-change kind of summer evening, so I have my windows wide open. It's rush hour in the city, and I live across the street from CTA el tracks, so there have been noisy commuter trains going by almost constantly for an hour now. I don't think there's one going by right now, but I swear I can hear one . . . . . . . . . . . . . . so it must be coming out of the speakers, the same train-sound exactly. I think Number None might've recorded the el train that goes by their apartment and put it on the album, so I'm having a real Chicago moment here . . . maybe the same train they recorded is still in use and going by my apartment right now....."
"Number None on Urmerica capture a sense of unease at their home country of USA. Although never explicitly stated they clearly feel some greater evolution in global politics sits behind the actions of the USA which encompasses the whole world. This music via eerie metallic drones and dense electric guitar chords has a sense of foreboding intent. Behind the music is a low rumbling sound, the distant vibrations of atomic rumble. On 'Secret Handshake, Hidden Hand' the sound buzzes and swells, like arcane radio infecting the air. You can feel them trying to produce a sense of martial purpose, of missions to be accomplished. This is the disturbing music of assassination, of armies on streets, of unseen threats.
"Welcome to the new ice age, cold war where only the paranoid sleep easily. I've heard this music described as noise, but it's really slow minimalist post-industrial soundscapes done in a singular and particularly well executed way. It's a less magickal version of the music made by Coil but is equally unsettling. 'Dent Magic' in particular with it's minimal drifting wordless voice, strange sound effects and haunting atmosphere is great. Only on the final track 'Monster Lobe (Werewolf Corps Victory Theme)' does the insanity become explicit the polluted sound finally becoming the vicious, violent release at the heart of the Number None and at the enraged heart of the USA."
-The Unbroken Circle, July 2005
"When reviewing Number None’s Ways of Sleepers, Ways of Wakers I think I described it as an engaging but fragmented aural affair that manages to be both schizophrenic and soothing at the same time. The same could be said about Urmerica (Rebis), but I am tempted to state that this one reaches even further out in cosmos. The opening "Suggestion for a New National Anthem" is one of the finest drone pieces I’ve heard all year and about halfway through its eight minutes some field recordings are added to the mix, and suddenly it’s no longer a lulling drone cloud but sonic dust particles packed with dread. This shift ... makes sense given the duo’s predilection for going from sorrowful, but beautiful, soundscapes to noise both between and within tracks. At its most claustrophobic and harsh Urmerica is just as alien and frightening as Omit or even Sunroof! and given that you probably know that you’re in for some serious inter-dimensional exploration. No words can really prepare you for the sort of time-space suspension that’s created here but I know for a fact that any fan of damaged drones and murky noise would be a fool to walk this one by without giving it a spin. Highly recommended."
-Mats Gustafson, Broken Face, July 2005
"[A] breakthrough album for the boys, a history-crushing monster
of energy and hum, a curse and a visitation and a doorway."
-Darren Bauler, Teraphim, June 2005