I like this trend of harsh noise artists calling it as they see it. You know exactly what you are getting when you bite into Kevin Drumm’s Sheer Hellish Miasma or Merzbow’s Metal Mad Man. There is no false advertising going on here. Similarly, ridiculously obscure CA noise musician Hautain doesn’t go in for the old bait and switch with his appropriately titled Glass Desert. A Glass Desert is exactly as hostile and gorgeous as it sounds.
From its onset Side 1 Glass Desert lives up to its title. A blistering sandstorm of harsh noise, guitar feedback and loose contact-mic static sweep in perpendicularly with hurricane force, forcing the listener to find shelter behind anything they can to keep from being shredded by a thousand glass particles. Aside from an occasional volume swell Hautain’s ominously dense compositions belie any sense of comfort or shelter behind familiar frameworks in any sort of compositional framework. No beats. No bridge. Nothing to connect to the body of popular music. Hautain’s side-1 is uniformly jarring, keeping the harsh tones relatively well distributed and even-keeled, creating a soundscape that is almost natural. Sort of like an incessant gale-force wind. Something that you would have constantly in your ears after living in the Sahara for years.
Side 2, however, is a different beast. If you are one of the rare people who can reach a certain stasis while listening to harsh noise (or at least tune it out) Side 2 is grating and pummeling beyond belief. Stranded in a shape-shifting cyclone of oscillating guitar strangulation, Side 2 is one of the most terrifying/breathtaking slabs of disregard for the life of a guitar have heard all year. Hautain’s guitar kamikaze nose dives, makes unholy metal-pigeon squaks and is generally abused into submission. There is nothing spiritual about this sort of noise-channeling. This is pure physical manipulation. Flesh against steel transference. Hautain bent over the neck, breaking capillaries while trying to physically draw noise out of every sputtering, dying orifice.
Hautain reaches moments of beauty in this piece (if we can allow it this much) as high-pitched sustained tones literally stop the clatter dead in its tracks. Moments like these abound on the excellent, excellent side-B and make Glass Desert a contender for noise album of the year.