In physics noise is partly defined by its unexpected behaviour. It suggests the reason we find certain sounds particularly noisy is because we can’t predict their next phase, nor do they comply with any familiar characteristics of sound as found in nature. But what happens when we remove the unpredictability from noise? What if we can find a way of directing noise within a channel that not only takes away the element of surprise, but also consequently finds an accessible universal language in which to communicate something to an unsuspecting listener? Physics would suggest that is impossible, but Davide Carbone’s new Honzo moniker, would disagree and he proves his point on his sophomore undertaking, Melancholia.
The EP channels discordant noise, unnatural drones and artificial ambience into recognisable forms and juxtaposes the unknown with the familiar, creating an awkward ease in which to lull the listener into a false sense of security. A brutalist modern world exists beyond the familiar in which noise and dissonance set the tone. Like much of the maximalist Techno du jour, Honzo relies on non-provocative forms and rhythms as a conduit for the unsettling, but unlike many Techno releases, Melancholia keeps the focus on the confrontational aspect of noise. Surprisingly, it’s best experienced on the Shadows remix of Moral Masochism where this ability appears at its most extreme and around which the other tracks on the EP soften in the wake of its sheer presence on the EP. Moral Masochism is the keyhole in which the un-initiated is exposed to Honzo’s less practical sonic atmospheres. Negating the obvious inclination to extrapolate everything from 4/4 rhythms, Honzo’s work on Melancholia sees elements of noise swirl and eddy around tangible parts, like the Adhan-referencing vocal that we find trapped between the concrete layers of distortion and drones on Oriental.
Carbone manipulates this aesthetic to communicate his continuous investment in exploring the realm of Freudian conjecture through the Honzo alias. As the title of this EP suggests, this is Honzo delving into the world of Melancholia and the idea that it is associated with as something evil, rather than creative. Honzo, although creative in his pursuit, errs on the side of the sombre, melancholy and at times downright depraved in his sonic aesthetic. The textures are provoking, but controlled in a way that it doesn’t offend the common sense, where a big sound is not necessarily related to an oppressive sound. Carbone affects his tracks with a unique control where the noise hardly overwhelms, and as such when the listener is confronted with a track like Lovesickness, where everything distorts and contorts, the cinematic textures tear open to reveal that this dystopian netherworld is just an illusion and something softer awaits the listener on the other side. Even when Honzo refrains from the percussive on a pure ambient track like Emptiness it arrives with an air caution and noise yet again takes the centre stage, but with very different results to the rest of the EP. There’s a beatific serenity to the composition that throws up the whole question of the harshness of noise like an oversized exclamation mark at the end of the EP.
None of this suggests that Melancholia is an exercise in easy listening; to the contrary, it takes some investment from the listener to appreciate the music over the layers of distortion, white noise and drones, but once you’ve conquered it, there’s a moment of realisation that pushes you back into your chair and begs the question: “how do I define noise after this?”