Finally complete after 13 years of attempt. 44 tracks across 3 full discs, compiling all the essential non-album cuts from phase one PD — including 7 previously unreleased and never before heard — totaling over 3 hours of pioneering visceral, dramatic, fast-paced and constantly engaging brute-concréte electronics driven by urban dread, isolation, culture shock, social detachment and coming-of-age desires. Composed with the most primitive of means from the outside looking in. Guest appearances by Viodre, Sewer Election and Circuit Wound. All tracks have been remastered from their original digital files in 2020; throw away your mp3 rips and submit to a dense cerebral world of dimly lit street lights and exposed collarbones.
“I asked Jonathan Borges to let me write the following blurb. Although I think I said “press release” when I made the request, this will not be quite that. While these early Pedestrian Deposit tapes contain some of my favorite music ever made (and I would happily write a bunch of nice things about how they sound) what I actually want to do is contextualize what, I think, these specific recordings meant to the development of Harsh Noise. I recognize that this is not the way most people in our community talk or write about what we do, but the recent interest in archival CD releases has inspired me to endure all accusations of pretentiousness to try to explain, from my perspective, why certain recordings deserve their place in our canon.
The first Harsh Noise recordings and performances were not good. They were not bad either — taste is a bourgeois concern. What mattered was that they were disruptive, loud, invasive, unwanted, unmusical. To ask whether The New Blockaders, or The Haters were good was to miss the point. It would be like asking if Duchamp’s Fountain (1917) was on display because it was a particularly beautiful toilet. But as Harsh Noise grew, and as a younger generation began participating in its evolution, that generation, in a way, misunderstood. They listened, and heard beauty. They discovered that some sounds were, to their ears, better than others, and that some performers were good at making Noise. In a sense, this initial, inevitable misunderstanding began the process of re-musicalizing Harsh Noise.
A tension between noise and music animated the first inklings of the genre’s aestheticization. If people actually listened to these tapes for pleasure, was it still noise? Artists were making compositional choices in their work — does that mean it is music? Masami Akita — a person who is undoubtedly very good at making Noise — explained: “There is no difference between noise and music in my work. I have no idea what you term ‘music’ and ‘noise.’ It’s different depending on each person. If noise means uncomfortable sound, then pop music is noise to me.” Kazumoto Endo’s While You Were Out (1997) elaborated on Akita’s quote by using sampled Japanese Pop music intercut with the artist’s own blasts of distortion and feedback. The Pop music samples — collected refuse of an overstimulated culture, so abundant and invasive that it felt inescapable — became the “noise,” while Endo’s own contributions — thoughtfully composed, virtuosically performed, meticulously edited Harsh Noise — must have been the intended “music.”
Jonathan Borges, heavily-influenced by Endo, made the jump-cut — the jarring, unexpected edit between two unlike sounds — the defining compositional principle of his project Pedestrian Deposit. But unlike Endo’s playful multi-genre collage, which mocked Pop music and the cultural baggage that accompanied it, Pedestrian Deposit’s sonic language was built on juxtapositions between quiet/loud, pure/over-modulated, tonal/aperiodic. Utilizing elements of Harsh Noise, Power Electronics, Drone, Dark Ambient, and field recordings, Pedestrian Deposit’s palette remained consistently within established experimental music styles, and all of the sounds were authored by Borges, with equal amounts of care. The quiet parts were just as important to the composition as the loud parts. Their contrast was not a joke. Edits were not surprising in their absurdity, but revealed a continuity — a logical, stylistic through-line. By comparison, Endo’s cuts were like flipping channels on a television, while Borges’s were like a surprising event occurring within the movie you’re watching — a shocking twist, a sudden shift of emotion —masterfully calculated to surprise its audience, without betraying it. Pedestrian Deposit’s work was no longer about music versus noise — every part was music, and every part was, in some way, noisy.
Following the avant-garde art movements of the 1950s and 60s, the performative and conceptual Harsh Noise of the 1970s resisted all accepted markers of artistic value. This radical form created its own culture, out of which developed new modes of expression, in a sense, transforming itself into music. I have called this process “misunderstanding,” but it is this aspect that has inspired artists and listeners ever since. I have also called it “inevitable.” This particular trajectory is not the only path one could describe from Noise’s origins to today. Another possible route of re-musicalization centers The Rita, and the development of Harsh Noise Wall — a subgenre that, in my experience, inspired more passionate discussion about what noise actually sounded like than any other. But to my ears, these early Pedestrian Deposit recordings best illustrate this story of the genre’s development. Contemporary Noise is unthinkable to me without Borges’s contribution, without the equals sign his jump-cut installed between the pretty parts and the harsh parts.”