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It took me a minute or two to even figure out who made this very mysterious-looking CD, with the artist name and title relegated to a single mention on the insert, but it turns out it’s the work of John Cohen, aka one half of Dead Fader. It’s largely beat driven stuff but much more on the ambient/sound art end of things, bringing to mind a chillier take on the gloomy electronics of peo ...

CD £9.49 EP27-CD

CD on Exotic Pylon.

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Deaf Arena by John Cohen
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8/10 Mike Staff review, 30 October 2013

It took me a minute or two to even figure out who made this very mysterious-looking CD, with the artist name and title relegated to a single mention on the insert, but it turns out it’s the work of John Cohen, aka one half of Dead Fader. It’s largely beat driven stuff but much more on the ambient/sound art end of things, bringing to mind a chillier take on the gloomy electronics of people like Haxan Cloak or the more somnolent moments of Cherrystones or a gritty, unsanitised take on Horror Inc’s maudlin drift.

Lots of the sounds here are distorted to the point where they’re broken and cracked and stuttering, swells of earth-moving doom drone which shudder robotically through too-narrow gaslit streets. It’s a disturbed and uncompromising sound, but always underpinned by a very human sense of fragile, frustrated sadness. M Mariner contributes some heavily processed vocals to the title track, lending it the feel of some long-lost slice of industrial experimentalism from the ‘80s which has been unearthed on some grime-damaged cassette tape in someone’s basement. Overall this is an impressive piece of work, gnarly and mechanical but also surprisingly emotional.


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