Boomkat Product Review:
A pulse, humming forth from the speakers. Rhythms fracture and divide themselves, intersecting, diverging. The pounding of a heartbeat emerges, so stressed... this is a feeling of dread. Thus passes the first couple minutes of ‘1 Minute 2 Midnight’, Russ Waterhouse’s second solo release.
"It’s been several years since Russ participated in new music-making as part of the duo Blues Control, now on an open-ended hiatus. Their four albums (plus one collaborative record with Laaraji) are much-heralded sonic journeys, processing observations on community and environment to produce a diverse set of instrumental modes. In the past couple years, Russ’s solo work has coalesced as the relationships that had created Blues Control fell apart, making almost unconscious commentary on a disillusioned state of mind. This brought him back to the noise idiom that he’d started with, making cassettes as Rheum in the early aughts. Last year’s cassette release, ‘Amaro’, recorded live and mostly improvised, was a relative expression of desolation compared to the verdant collaborations of Blues Control but an evolution of his earlier work.
‘1 Minute 2 Midnight’ rides that forsaken vibe into waves of anger and frustration over lack of agency, emoted via encroaching overlays of noise and mixed with an ear for small details scattered among the big sounds, then patterned into two long-form pieces. Living in Richmond, Virginia during this time, Russ found himself in a void, with a variable response to the sense of dissipation - resistance and surrender, outreach and retreat. Eventually, something had to happen to lead him out of it. A trek to locate bodies of water led him to the intersection of the Appomattox and the James rivers - but there, the potential clarity that nature might provide was drowned out by the sounds of industrial machinery emanating from the stark environs around the city of Hopewell. Suddenly, here was something that resonated.
Upon returning home, Russ did a bit of research and found that Hopewell had been the site of a disastrous chemical spill. The sounds of this place, implying calamity, needed to be captured. ‘Hopewell’ disperses the collected sounds in a live mix that extends over nineteen minutes through a series of increasingly forbidding moments. Using field recordings, a Sears Rhythm-Matic drum box, Roland TR-505 drum machine, Korg synth and percussion (marbles in a glass jar with a contact mic), all of it tuned to the ground hum of the drum box, Russ’s mix embodies an imminent doomsday. On side two, ‘Too Many People’ grows out of the first piece and structures itself nmore readily. Based around field recordings gathered while wandering through Richmond’s Regency Square mall and climaxing with a corrosive guitar performance, nthe piece finds Russ employing tactile methodology with a greater sense of equilibrium and organization compared to the organic clamour of ‘Hopewell’."