Foxy Digitalis review of Nonagon Knives
J. Soliday “Nonagon Knives”
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 approacher 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.