FREAK ANIMAL’s 3″CD SERIES
Text: Mikko A.
My personal interest in 3″ mini CD format has been since I first saw it. It is possible first noise 3″ CD I heard, was Merzbow “Artificial Invagination”. It is most likely the greatest Merzbow release, regardless of the format. As 3″, it’s length and presentation is utmost high tensio and stood out different from vast majority of noise releases.
During the years, I appreciated releases such as couple Chop Shop special packaged 3″ releases that allowed more duration to recordings than 7″, but still compact enough to keep power of recordings at peak level. Con-Dom “Acts Of Faith” functions as art object, but also one of highlights in his unique discography. Back in 90’s Metamkine’s 3″ CD series was great introduction to new and old electro acoustic and musique concrete. Conceptual recordings that were great in duration of 15-20 minutes, could have been less so as part of longer full length album.
Freak Animal has published handful of 3″s in past. Twice before, I made attempt to launch bigger series of this format. They eventually failed mostly due harsh reality: Manufacturing prices that is higher than for normal CD’s is one. More importantly, factories used to refuse smaller editions for format what requires adjusting their machinery between regular cd production.
Idea of series always returned. Despite banal reason, such as financial difficulties, there are many things what are in benefit of idea. Making series work out, ideally, it offers something so unique:
Many studies of human behaviour has shown, that normal human being has c. 20 minutes attention span at once. Then there needs to be short break, or level of being alert and focused will diminish. While some releases may require a slow build up of tension or require being immersed into sound for long periods of time, there is benefit of material that is build on notion of necessity of focused and conscious listening in relatively short period of time.
Another aspect is, that many artists may be on situation, where they don’t feel like they have an album worth of great material. Or it is simply the reality. They may be also willing to try something different, yet making album of sound that is vastly different from what they have formerly done, doesn’t feel suitable for “album”. Even on uncounscious level.
It is possibility to present material that is different. Possibility to compress album worth noise ideas of high energy blast into half shorter duration making it something to instantly return – instead of feeling it almost as a task to go through it once. Compact length removes the possibility of lazy ideas, like creating “massivity” merely by extending duration.
In the world of constant flood of reissue box-sets, many may feel running out of space. And simple reality of asking, why to buy 100 euro vinyl box set, what you probably will go through once? As opposed to over 10 times cheaper item what may instantly be listened multiple time, enabling to fully experience and digest the material!
One flaw what some people point out, is actually a strenght: While 3″cd is playable with pretty much every CD player that is out there, it is not suitable for slide-in cd drives. Some may feel they are entitled to listen material everywhere. Including car or formerly popular lap-tops. However, like with any physical media, strength of format is that while some cry not being able to consume it in the way they want, in reality format guides into ideal listening.
If you play it with CD player, it is most likely you will be using adequate stereo system. Actual speakers and volume levels that contribute to the experience. You will have to make the conscious decision of listening, picking up CD from shelves and know there will be 20 minutes of something to happen. Duration what is long enough to not be tied in front of set-up like DJ, but not too long to make it just obsolete backing racket. Instead: forced active and conscious listening!
As opposition to countless large sized objects. Boxes with shirts and posters, aim is opposite. Compact packaging, but big enough to do bands visual presentation justice. Cardboard gatefold packaging is designed to be suitable that 3″s can be storaged together with regular CD’s in shelves. 3mm spine, 12cm tall x 8,5cm wide. There is no “uniform” graphics for series. Each release allows artist to present the sound and visuals in their own style, without being forced to some specific aesthetic template.
Series do not have separate catalogue numbers, but are within regular Freak Animal’s numbering.
UMPIO “Trankilo” 3″CD
Umpio has displayed various kinds of approaches. He has done brute harsh noise, cosmic oscillations, field recordings and so on. On Trankilo, Umpio goes to very different approach than praised “Muelas” CD published on Freak Animal. Instead of popular low fidelity rawness known by many Finnish artists, Umpio takes exactly opposite approach here. It’s sharp and crystal clear production resembles what one would describe “studio recording”. However, material itself is razor sharp amplified junk electronics. Fierce, loud and utterly clear – and therefore exposing the ripping quality of noise. 5 songs in 20 minutes is much more than that. Innovative mix of harsh noise, field recordings and rough industrial-noise sounds makes this piece unlike any other Umpio release and unlike pretty much any noise out there. Simply demand for instant re-play!
Umpio: “All sounds acoustically recorded with a stereo mic, no line-in. From a session of internal feedback loops, where the electronix are driven into internal overload so hard that they start talking. Later cleared the table from machines and piled up some tasty junks, one contact mic on the table leg, then into a bass amp. Boombox in the corner spluttering some Reaktor recordings. Mixed with some sidechaining setup, where certain sounds make room for other sounds. Remove the fat, distill the spiritus.
I work in 20 min blocks almost always so I can’t comment on the size of the disc, but I find 20min xlent length for the compositional arch. Unless we’re talking about hypnodrone o rother forms of kaleidoscopic music which are ok to take hours.
3″CD is good as it makes you listen cos you can’t slide it into your laptop but you have to really put it into a player haha! And from the size it’s a love/hate thing cos it’s stylish, wastes a bit less resources, but also irritatingly mini.”
MANIA “Foul Inside” 3″CD
Mania has had several releases on Freak Animal. While one can always conclude that each of the releases has been different, they have the same overall sound pallette. Brute electronics, feedback, metal junk, scarsely used vocals. Hardly power electronics, but also not material what would file under standard noise. Mania has such a recognizeable sound. For example, listening compilation that is full of unknown and anonymous noise, his material always stands out clearly as Mania. This type of personality is rare in genre of noise. “Foul Inside” continues his work flawlessly: It is most definitely Mania, but slightly more abstract and slower moving perhaps? To fully analyze what precisely makes it different from all things in past, is hard, but one can clearly feel it instantly in first listening.
When Asking Mania himself, his approach was very down to earth: “I had three unreleased tracks plus a new piece I like.” Benefits of the format was simply that “The 4 tracks fit the length well.” Tracks are presented in one solid 20 minute piece, without indexing or giving specific details, capturing similar feel as Mania tapes have had.
SICK SEED “Failed Rituals” 3″CD
Sick Seed has also long history on Freak Animal. On this particular release, Sick Seed has abandoned most of it’s common elements. No vocals, no musical loops, no traditional usage of instruments. Instead, three tracks of ugly and broken industrial-waste. Each song is still clearly conscious creation, where all distinctive elements of rugged sonic waste is layered in a way that all tracks sound vastly different. Perfect addition to Sick Seed’s diverse and unique discography!
Sick Seed: “I don’t remember everything about recording sessions and ideas thrown around at the time of putting the tracks together, but I do remember that in the main recording session where the core material was done, lots of objects of various materials got broken and one band member was combing shards of glass from his beard when he got home afterwards.
It was premeditated to use broken, rotten, damaged, distorted (not as in distortion pedal) and even glitchy sounds. Sound was made to fit the releases secondary theme of damage, destruction and failure, all both physical and mental. Also field recordings of very mundane everyday routines, or rituals, if you like, were used (in very much destroyed final form).
In addition to destruction, etc. it’s main theme is failure in performing rituals, whether everyday routines, social conventions, or Magickal workings, and damage of different kinds resulting in these failures.
I don’t have any specific feelings about 3″CD. I guess it’s somewhat similar to 7″ or 10″ vinyl but never got really popular. Its small size can be a downside as well. I once took some CDs to a used record store and there was one 3″ among them and the guy said he won’t take it as “it’ll just get lost because it’s so small.” I suppose it’s good format for special packaging, but I’m not a big fan of that nowadays.”
Pricing 8 euro each. 3 for 20 euro.
Order 3 x 3″s with batch price: