Nonagon Knives

by J. Soliday

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about

Originally released by C.I.P. in 2012, who unfortunately ceased operations at the tail end of 2014. All remaining stock of Nonagon Knives was passed on to Crank Satori and will be available here going forward. Crank Satori is also offering a digital download version of this release, an option never offered by C.I.P.

Reviews:

The début solo full length from Chicago experimentalist Jason Soliday (I <3 Presets, Illegal Teeth, Winters in Osaka, and founder of the sadly defunct gig space Enemy), Nonagon Knives is an hour long hit of modular synth noise and the best album of its type I’ve heard for a long time, probably since KILT’s excellent Kitchen Sorcery on Prison Tatt.

To say Nonagon Knives is unrelenting is something of an understatement; there is no introduction whatsoever to the opening track ‘Snarled Ellipse|Snared Ellipse’, which bursts in on a thrashing bundle of sparking wires and whose only attempt at stopping for respite comes in a series of high-pitched synth retches halfway through. ‘Peel (Offset)’ purrs like a sleeping tiger, one eye open on the approach before letting rip again with ‘Each Could Clearly Hear The Other…’, and so on until the exhausted crackle of ‘Consider Yourself Dissolves’ closes the nine track ear-fuck and leaves the listener staring wild-eyed and rooted to the spot.

The real beauty of this music lies in the detail. Far from being a flat-out noise fest, Nonagon Knives brims with texture showcases Soliday’s ability to coax more than just random noise from his chosen instrument. ‘An Obsession With Aerodynamics’, for example, hums with feedback beneath the surface racket, lending it an unsettling feeling of depth. Imagine waving your hand around in a dark hole you know harbours snakes and waiting for the bite – that’s the kind of effect the best of Soliday’s work can have on you, and it’s often as though it’s been wired directly into your spine. Soliday retains superlative control too; nothing runs him and nothing sounds superfluous. The undoubted highlight here is the quarter-hour ‘The Comfort of Outer Forms’, which uses its extended playing time to run the whole gamut of sonic shades. From burping frog croaks to zipping space cars and some disarmingly cute chirrups, the track eventually blends the lot in a rapidly rotating neutron star of noise that flings out ever fiercer tendrils. They themselves construct miniatures, all of which hiss around the perimeters and some of which even have the faintest hint of melody. This is the kind of minutiae that will reveal itself upon repeated listens (it goes straight back around whenever I play it), and what marks Soliday out as being a truly exceptional noise artist. Nonagon Knives will hopefully be the first of many.
- Steve Dewhurst / Foxy Digitalis

One of the routines when mail arrives is to check if something is for me, or my fellow travelers of the Weekly, and here’s one I have been thinking about of sending to Jliat. Especially the first two pieces are heavy blasts of noise/feedback/distortion. Usually I would have stopped playing this and put it in a mailer, but I know Soliday’s music a bit, and I was intrigued with the references made on the press text: Pierry Henry, Voice Crack, Jean Claude Eloy, Jerome Noetinger, John Wiese, Olivia Block and modular synthesizers. Perhaps only the latter in those first two tracks. When it comes to noise, Soliday is indeed very heavy, but luckily its not what he does exclusively. A piece like ‘An Obsession With Aerodynamics’ is more spacious modular synth based than pure noise induced. Soliday uses a variety of techniques when it comes to composing music: noise blasts, spacious modular synthesizers, extended sometimes, going almost beyond the threshold of hearing, but then it can cut straight into something very loud and obnoxious, and then it can cut straight out of that, in order to continue with something very soft, like a disparate piece of drone music. You may have guessed it, but this is indeed the kind of noise I like. It is loud, at times, but never too long and Soliday has put some thought in it as to what would work and what not. What doesn’t work is an endless stream of distorted sounds, me thinks. What works is the combination of cracked electronics, loud and soft put together to make a great composition - or nine. Perhaps an hour is a bit long for a release like this, but its a strong debut album anyway. Excellent.
- Franz de Waard / Vital Weekly

A great piece of electronic analogue noise from Jason Soliday, here billed as J. Soliday on his first proper CD release, Nonagon Knives (CIP CIPCD027). CIP label boss Blake Edwards would put his own head on a guillotine to make sure that Chicago music gets the recognition it deserves, and in print form he’s waxing lyrical about this album until he froths at the mouth. No wonder, though, since Nonagon Knives is a real slicer. Soliday has a lot of the violence and force in his work that makes noise music attractive to so many sickos and masochists (indeed a lot of the audience often begin and end with the violence), but he also has a strong understanding of how to manipulate the stereo field in his favour. At times he pulls off tiny miracles of mixing and panning, situating his barbs, bombs, and boulders at marked points in the imaginary listening space with remarkable assurance. We also find much to admire in his very varied textures, which run the gamut from barbed wire necklets to scalding jets of acid in the mush, not forgetting the layers of painful igneous rocks which sear our running feet. To cap it all off, there’s Soliday’s impeccable timing and dynamics, executed through a powerful mix of lightning reflexes, ultra-sharp editing skills, and sheer instinct; he makes these shocking events collide and germinate with terrifying precision. This music was all generated with modular synth systems, instruments which (I would guess) are much harder to control than their digital counterparts, so this may be another index of Soliday’s great skill. I think the label is correct to compare him with modern electro-acoustic composers; in purpose and method, he has more affinities with the extreme end of the INA-GRM label than he does with Merzbow. Stern, rigid music with a core of pure titanium; an exciting and invigorating listen which I recommend. Only the sleeve image is kinda drab, though I suppose it strikes a suitable keynote of darkness and ambiguity with its digital abstractions.
- Ed Pinsent / The Sound Projector

credits

released June 1, 2012

J. Soliday plays modular electronics

Recorded in various locations during 2011-2012
Mixed at Enemy Sound winter 2012
Mastered by Brian Labycz

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