number none
 

biography

The Chicago duo NUMBER NONE formed in 2001. Using a broad variety of sound sources (guitar, harmonium, thrift-store keyboards, analog electronics, flutes & whistles, Tibetan singing bowls, field recordings, mangled vinyl, digital fuckery, effects pedals, and feedback loops) they create terrifyingly beautiful noiseworks and spaciously drifting droneworks.

They have four releases on Rebis, a split with Family Battle Snake on State Sanctioned Recordings, a 3" CD-R on New American Folk Hero, and cassette-only releases on Sloow Tapes and Gold Soundz. Two new full-lengths are expected soon: Strategies Against Agriculture (American Grizzly), and Wrong Axon Fog (Apostasy).


discography

2007

number none / family battle snake split [State Sanctioned]
CD, october 2007

2006

"map is vague" on
yellow gold [Gold Soundz]
20-min. cassette, july 2006

lichfields [Gold Soundz]
30-min. cassette, july 2006

2005

damp and damned [Sloow Tapes]
postal collaboration with medroxy progesterone acetate, 60-min. cassette, december 2005

helpers and hurters
split CD-R with Jazzfinger, august 2005

nervous climates [New American Folk Hero]
3" CD-R, august 2005

urmerica [Rebis]
CD, july 2005

"the pole i'm furthest from" on
time and relative dimensions in space [Rebis]
CD, july 2005

2004

ways of sleepers, ways of wakers [Rebis]
CD-R, july 2004

2003

apartment thunder [Rebis]
CD-R, may 2003

2002

principles of sitting [Rebis]
CD-R, april 2002


photos

more...


print reviews

on urmerica

"The local duo NUMBER NONE refer to their albums as 'annual retorts,' echoing the title of Throbbing Gristle's Second Annual Report, and like that group they've recorded plenty of doomy soundscapes. Compared to TG's cruelly analytical provocations, though, Number None's sharp-edged feedback formations, layered field recordings, and melancholy acoustic ruminations have been naive and insular, happily absorbed in themselves; [they] have plunged into their varied sound worlds like kids who've just learned how to jump off the diving board. But on Urmerica, their fourth and most powerful disc (on their own Rebis label, like the others), [they] look up and regard the world around them -- and their response is dread and revulsion. In 'Suggestion for a New National Anthem' a remorseless lawn-mower-like roar cuts down the sonic subtleties of a funeral dirge, and in 'Secret Handshake, Hidden Hand' flickering frequencies gather around a fundamental drone like a pitiless insect swarm."

-Bill Meyer, Chicago Reader (Critic's Choice review), Friday, August 12

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"This shadowy duo from Chicago are responsible for three previous releases—the 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 effect—the brooding rumble of 'Monster Lobe' is counterpointed by rampantly processed high frequency oscillations. It's a buzz."

-Chris Sharp, The Wire #258, August 2005

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on ways of sleepers, ways of wakers

"Number None's home recordings from May 2003 until April 2004 are an involving blend of electronic drone and sampled discordance that slowly snake their way into your consciousness until, akin to MTV marketed pop at its most addictive, they're almost impossible to shake loose from the memory. The anonymous brain behind Number None moves from Terry Riley-like electronic keyboard drone to William Basinski styled disintegrating tape loops and Keith Rowe generated radio dial tweakings, all of which makes for a varied and sometimes fascinating collection of Rorschach sound patterns."

-Edwin Pouncey, The Wire #249, Nov. 2004

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"The mysterious Number None combo consists of two American sound architects that deliver dreamy icebergs of exploratory dronescapes that slowly melt and reveal new shapes and forms. Finely polished sound clusters float like mist over an abandoned city park but before you know it thatís all been replaced by the somewhat scary feel of being stuck at the very same place in the middle of the night. What I am basically saying is that there are a lot of feelings at display here, not only beautiful ones, but also illustrations of things I am not so sure you really wanted to confront in the first place. Ways of Sleepers, Ways of Wakers is an engaging but fragmented aural affair that manages to be both schizophrenic and soothing at the same time, which is quite an accomplishment.

"Not really much to say other than that. Itís the kind of sonic portrait that youíd expect from someone into the amazing VHF label, not easily digestible but recommended for fans of meditative drones, digital fuckery, feedback loops and headphones enlightenment the world over."

-Mats Gustafson, Dream Magazine #5


web reviews

on helpers and hurters

"Music built primarily from noise has been creating a whole new range of listening responses for long time now, demanding both attention and negligence and working equally well with either. Both acts on this split release (Jazzfinger with five tracks and Number None with four) work from a palette of unconventional and initially disorientating sounds that some will easily lump into the noise/drone category, but both do something more for those listeners with the time or inclination to hear it. Thatís not to say that Helpers and Hurters is a struggle to get through or an exercise in chin stroking; itís anything but.

"Both acts here prove themselves to be on the cusp of Wolf Eyes-style crossover fame, bending some familiar unfamiliar sounds into strange mini-musical lo-fidelity autopsies. In less capable hands the raw elements of Jazzfingerís 'Hurtsville is Here' might have ended up being just another racket/experiment in radio manipulation, but the duo subtly drag much more from under the charcoal surface. Dispatches from popular culture are teased through time as the found (and quickly lost) sounds trip in and out of focus.

"Those that expect noise acts to be belligerent Eustachian tube terrorists get short shrift here with only Number Noneís first blast 'Dump Fuck' heading for all out aural war. A sooty sine wave builds gathering dust and noise alongside it, crushing squealing rats as it ploughs through brick and flesh, turning into a relentless masticating cloud as nasty as a hung-over Merzbow belch. In short, 'Dump Fuck' is a hurter.

"Number None bring a more mortal touch to a couple of songs, lacing the human voice into 'Teaching Children About Feelings' and stretching it onto the rack for 'Drained Angel.' The former buries a melody alive in the deformed wash of grainy sound while a voice (or is it a synth line?) crawls into clarity; the latter appears to be aurally recreating the cover of Burned Mind complete with Raven calls. 'Drained Angel''s creaky throated moan rises into the cry of a full-voiced occultist plugged into the mains circuit.

"Jazzfingerís 'My Window Runs Beside Me' and 'The Old Country' cover similar territory with pieces of immersed piano fighting for breath surrounded by contours of ubiquitous static while melody takes brief sojourns from the songs. 'Summer Insect Strut' is well positioned at the start, as itís the easiest slide into Jazzfingerís sound world, warming up into the buzz with the analogue of a wavering organ. Picture Boards of Canada stuck in a high rise flat for inspiration, as opposed to wandering their bonny highlands, if only it didnít end in such a sharp edit.

"Both bands seem to have become premature experts in creating tension: Jazzfingerís 'Out in the Street' steers an almost bass (or guitar) line with feedback threatening to blow the songís engine out, all the time dragging nerves on a shredder. Number None take 'A Person Who Really Exists' and generate something otherworldly which insinuates the listener to the edge of their seat, ear to the speakers, and eyes screwed shut for a noise that never comes.

"There are already (possibly untrue) rumours, which Iím happy to fuel, of a possible release for recordings of their exceptional recent live collaborations from their recent UK 'Tour of the Moors' shows; fingers crossed. If Jazzfinger or Number None aim to hurt, itís in the nicest possible way.

-Scott McKeating, Stylus Magazine, August 19, 2005

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on urmerica

"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 an individual track to mention as the whole album maintains the same flavour with variations slowly shifting within and between tracks. 'Secret Handshake, Hidden Hand' is typical sounding like a jet taking-off in slow motion, whilst 'Compression And Radiation' is the album's densest moment, a juggernaut of sound that rolls across anything in its 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 to seek within ourselves, the fragile drones leading us forward through time."

-Ptolemaic Terrascope, October 2005

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"It's not polite to kick someone when theyíre down but sometimes certain things need to be put out there and while Urmerica isnít 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 Bushís 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 songís 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 itís 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 27, 2005

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Can Such Things Be?, at The Unbroken Circle (3rd review in post)

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After the Goldrush #6, at Broken Face (Sunday, July 3rd review)

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on live performance

Espers, Jazzfinger & Number None Review, at Plexus


contact: rebis at imaginaryyear.com