Let the art speak for itself.
This sentiment, however multifaceted it can be when scrutinized in-depth, is after all quite the bare bone concept; don’t overthink it, experience it. I most certainly am not the ‘separate the artist from the art‘ type of person, but tangentially I do feel that in the modern age the artist oftentimes has a bit too much weight when it comes to observing the art at hand. In the modern age, expressing one’s opinions and having those flare up in a wildfire manner is way too simple. Obviously when the views are harmful to others or something to that effect, it’s a different thing, but I’m talking about the more mundane aspect of it, and the capsized notion where the creator is more important than the creation. That is why I find a certain kind of disconnection between the two important, and why I chose to write about our newest Weekly Featured Artist.
Because time itself quite frankly tends to be scarce every now and then, I’m not interviewing today’s artist, but taking a look at their existence and what it entails from a distance. Contacting them to discuss certain matters wouldn’t have been out of the question either, but the reality of it is that I can still do that later on, lost commercial value aside. This obviously ties in with the opening paragraph, and now it’d feel silly to get caught up in anything apart from the art itself, wouldn’t it? I have, however, included some quotes either directly from the artist or their press releases, so that you can have something of a glance at their own mindset.
8 Hour Animal (also stylized as 8houranimal) is a one-man experimental post-industrial/harsh noise/power electronics/whatever else act hailing from Poughkeepsie, New York. I first got ahold of the act after their album Resigner came out via Sentient Ruin last August. Sentient Ruin is one of the few parties who seem to have a piss-coloured neon sign screaming excellence hovering above everything that they put out, and one of the very few labels that I follow closely, and whose releases I methodically dig into every time, and more often than not, resonate with on some unspoken profound levels.
‘The enigmatic and mysterious one-man blackened harsh industrial entity emerged from the East coast in 2020 via a string of extremely limited home-dubbed tapes focused on abstract pummeling harsh noise wall and power electronics.‘
8 Hour Animal‘s journey through the dismal landscapes painted by the genres they’re knee-deep in is a relatively fresh one. I’m fairly certain that whoever it is that spearheads the project has done something else in the past, or is currently doing something else on the side, but I have no knowledge of such things aside from one side project that I’ll go into later on. That leaves me to a place where I’m seeing the act as its own entity through and through, and honestly, I prefer that. Associations can be fruitful to an extent (see Sentient Ruin discoveries from above), but they can also be damaging and take away from the novelty of the act (see any instance where someone’s new project is stamped with a list of ‘members of blablabla‘ or feature other non-musical stances).
This project’s freshness stems from the fact that there’s no prior filth to be found under its rugs, and that its debut Pejorative only came out maybe in 2019 (to be contradicted). I do understand it’s been three years already, but the plague of recent times really twists one’s perception of time in a way where few years mean absolutely jack shit anymore. Anyway, it’s worth noting that the act’s Bandcamp and Discogs pages provide different timings for different releases, so I apologise in advance if I fuck something up going forward. I don’t really care, but if you do, I mean no harm or indiscretions alike.
Pejorative is made up of four tracks spanning over sixty-seven minutes, with the longest one clocking in nearly half an hour and the shortest one also exceeding the ten minute mark. The opening track “Really” pulls you in right away to a pulsating cacophony that meanders along with glitched out beats and retrigger (look it up) effects, and slowly but surely malforms into a rough harsh noise wall that somehow has some colour to it regardless of its crushed out appearance. The titular track and its parallel counterpart “Pejorative as Fuck” rejoice in similar terror, albeit both including resemblances of movements. It’s almost insulting how fluent all of it is, though it’s safe to say that you need to have an ear for sonic destruction to get the most out of it. I do, otherwise I obviously wouldn’t find myself in 8 Hour Animal‘s confines repeatedly.
‘Influenced by bands like Controlled Bleeding, Carcass, Godflesh, Ministry, Incapacitants, Coil, and Skinny Puppy, 8 Hour Animal is the sound of fear and loss of self as flesh is dragged across broken glass.‘
The apparent follow-up titled Vacuous came out during the height of the gloom marking these past few years, and constitutes of more sound design-esque aesthetics, as mostly apparent in the tracks “Dreaming of You” and “Nihilism is a Luxury”. To fully unfold, 8 Hour Animal requires an eardrum-shattering volume to open up, but it’s not like you’d really need to (or could) listen to anything else during the same day when you have this on. It’s fascinating how the music conveys pure thoughts and emotions without blatantly expressing any by means of words or too explanatory titles. I’d go as far as to say that the idea of experiencing art is fully realised with something like this, in its overwhelmingly violent and truly inexplicable nature.
This is something I find the most enjoyable when it comes to noise associative music; the feeling of unique expression translating perfectly to the listener to fit their personal emotive mold. I’ve touched on the subject one way or the other during my features on Earthflesh, Nordvargr, and The Vomit Arsonist, for an example, but the thing is, all of these musical terror units differ from one another, each offering their own impressions and singular angles even though on paper or in a non-adjusted person’s perception they might all appear as one and the same, a source of racket with no value to it. This juxtaposition is of course the basis for endless amounts of discussions, arguments, and fights, but the reality of it can’t be swept away. It’s the type of situation where all parties are correct even though they’re looking at the same thing through different lenses and completely contradictory feelings.
Just like with the acts mentioned above, there really is no grey area with 8 Hour Animal, and that’s all in all a beautiful thing if you ask me. Another beautiful thing is what transpired for the project next – their most proclaimed and even surprisingly widely well-received full-length, Resigner.
The first thing that caught my eye was the album’s amazing artwork, constituting of a collage art piece by Paul van Trigt, who’s responsible for most of 8 Hour Animal‘s covers, and whose immaculate work you can and should check out from here. The longer you look at it, the more it unveils, while getting all the more unsettling by every second, much as the music itself. The album’s press notes elaborate well on its ingrained misery;
‘Written in complete loneliness and isolation, Resigner fuses heavy grinding guitars with industrial percussion, caustic atmospherics, and walls of hateful hissing noise to paint a daunting modern design to complete self-annihilation. The lyrics dealing in self harm, despair, fear and deep self-hatred further define the self-projected sonic downfall that aims at representing the end of self, the quitting of life, the erasure of future, and the complete suppression of hope and happiness.‘
“Almost Free” opens up the barrage with a distorted nihilistic sample that underlines the project’s overall mien, when a wall of guitars/bass and programmed drums a tad later start to carry the listener away into whatever hole the entity rose from. There’s moments of pure chaos, atmospheric bliss, clever tricks, and aural murk that ties everything together in an exquisite fashion. The twisty techno-driven pulsator that is “Oblivs” is something completely different as a song, but equally riveting and thrilling. I recall when I first heard the album, and had to keep jumping back and forth to be sure that I indeed heard what I heard, and kept replaying it an insane amount of spins to fully grasp whatever the fuck was unfolding between my ears.
“Clever People” and “Pushing Myself Down” showcase Resigner to its best ability, with all the unexpected turns they take throughout their lengths to really mess up the listener’s psyche. There is something puzzle-esque to them, though instead of interlocking parts we have random shapes that shouldn’t by any measure fit together, yet for some ungodly reason they do. The last track of the physical release (digital has a bonus one) “Wake” continues this same schematic, rounding out the entirety of the album in an insanely sweet fashion. The interesting thing is, that what has stayed with me ever since my first listen to my umpteenth one today, is the sense of wonder, amazement, and surprise, all together neatly forming a weird trinity that is prevalent and most of all, unique.
Even though Resigner undoubtedly is the culmination point for 8 Hour Animal so far, that doesn’t mean that the later works, of which there are few, would be any less significant. The end of 2021 saw one more release for the act, titled Thrust In Me, made up of two elongated songs acting as mirror experiences of sorts.
‘Thrust in Me is nodding off into an opioid haze. Disappointment, self hatred and hopelessness make their interruptions, but fade as the second half progresses. Fuck everything and everyone.‘
The first part alone makes it clear that the release returns to a more abstract and formless expression familiar from the efforts preceding Resigner, but there’s a step up quality-wise, meaning that there’s more impact to it. The second part revels in a flood of blistering din for a good while until toning down to a more ambient-driven passages, sprouting forth a new kind of atmosphere for the project. It’d be the most simple way out to characterise both parts of Thrust In Me as long harsh noise walls, but there’s too much transmuting and too little repetitiveness to sign that off, granted that being versed in on that form of music certainly helps in order to get the most out of this, mainly due to having the kind of endurance integral to withstand it.
Similar endurance is required for Armsanxhor, a two-track release from this January (a-ha, scrutiny tells it actually came out already in April of ’21, but I can’t be arsed to re-write the earlier bits because Bandcamp told its own story about the release date), that somewhat shares the concept of Thrust In Me, only proceeding in an even more versatile and looming fashion. “Red Noise” and “Dealer” make up for about an hour’s worth of noise, that comes closer to the listener than ever before as it has a live feel to it, knob clicks and all. I’m not really sure why, but the pair of tracks have a strange sense of closure and ending to them, again an angle that’s unique for this particular release. The cover art points back at Pejorative, forming an aesthetical arc of sorts for 8 Hour Animal‘s existence so far. There’s since been a collaboration/split with Exome titled Beyond The Wall Restlessness that came out on the 3rd of this month, which I urge you to listen to as a part of the projects continuum, but for which I currently have no words that’d bring more insight to it. Just listen to it and see for yourself.
Earlier I mentioned about that one side project that 8 Hour Animal has, so it feels only natural to get into that for a second. This project, called Father Fister, is by all accounts an even harsher embodiment than its father moniker, and something that requires, again, a mindset of its own to properly get into.
Its debut XCX came out this January – or last year, or in ten years from now, or whenever the fuck – and is made up of four shorter tracks of raw and completely unpolished amalgamation of harsh noise and power electronics. Somehow there’s an underlying similarity to 8 Hour Animal, albeit that might be just me seeing and hearing things that aren’t really there. This April also saw the release of Power of Prayer, the second coming of Father Fister, which excels in similar territory as its predecessor. There’s really no point in trying to map out abstract things like this, so once again I urge you to just listen to it.
I’ve noticed earlier on that it’s exceedingly difficult to stay up to date with noise projects and mainly their timelines, as you probably noticed above. The thing is, though, that doesn’t really matter. For a project like 8 Hour Animal, each release have their own purpose and their own appearance, and there’s really no reason to get all fixated about the sequence of things. If anything, that just goes to further emphasize the musical nature of it; is the concept of order really something that should be implemented in something like this? Fuck. No.
If you managed to follow through with me to this point, you might as well go and sink your teeth into the brilliance of 8 Hour Animal over here, and follow the project for it and its side thingies future undertakings from their Instagram. I have a feeling that we’ll hear some novel ruckus again sooner rather than later. But until then, silence has never been as loud as it is in contrast to 8 Hour Animal.