Article by: Chuck Trash
For years, Orange Milk Records has served as a connecting point for experimental noise artists around the world. Their catalog is packed full of compositions that use an assortment of midi-programmed drums and obscure analog synth melodies. The Ohio-based label recently delivered RXM Reality’s Advent, which takes the Orange Milk foundation and spins it to create an unsettling soundtrack for our chaotic reality.
The obvious comparisons across RXM Reality’s career and specifically, Advent, lean toward the abrasive works of artists like Aphex Twin or Blanck Mass. Each track on Advent is driven by a distorted assortment of globally-influenced drums, with an array of instruments and sound effects structured around them. The album completely disregards tradition and morphs the kick drums to sound abrupt and sporadic. This plays well for an album that attempts to interpret and recreate the feeling of mass hysteria. On “Wave of Something,” RXM gradually finds a melody amid drums that follow this stylistic pattern. He always maintains an avant-garde build enough to bury any linear synths with an overpowering sense of experimentation. It’s a complex and jarring sequence of contrasting instruments and effects.
While Advent sounds consistently coarse, the producer brilliantly dials the trepidation back a bit on tracks like “Character Limit,” one of the more cohesive songs on the album. Part of the reason this track edges closer to a linear build is because RXM removes the heavy-hitting effects on the drums that evoke aggression on every other song. When this distorted pounding is in a slightly understated setting, he compensates their unnerving influence with a surprisingly soothing synth, and balances the sudden calm with quieter and sharper sound effects like lasers.
RXM Reality is at his best on songs like “Screaming” and “Grip of Evil,”playing into his skill as an apocalyptic band leader. These tracks are unconventional in every sense of the word and they are complicated intricate productions. “Screaming” is a linear track, but in a sense it mirrors a mental breakdown rather than a lively dance party. There are elements of the noisier side of this album that sound fitting in a bass-driven club setting, however RXM shifts the general mood of each track so abruptly that the album is a bigger reflection of his process and the tumultuous emotion around each track.
Harsh noise is an increasingly popular endeavor that electronic and experimental artists have pushed in new directions for decades. RXM Reality’s version of this corrosive subgenre doesn’t fully remove the beauty hidden in the careers of Oneohtrix Point Never or Tim Hecker, but instead he reframes and challenges the meaning behind beauty. If there are ambient composers making nature-based soundscapes with the intention of calming their listener, RXM Reality provides a polarizing opposite, which reinforces his reality-based stage name. There are endless layers of destruction that echo throughout Advent which feel particularly apocryphal.