Iron Fist Of The Sun - Who Will Help Me Wash My Right HandIt seems like an age since I last heard Iron Fist of the Sun, the power electronics project of Lee Howard. Who Will Help Me Wash My Right Hand, his latest on Cold Spring, is another contemporary take on power electronics. In fact, Iron Fist of the Sun forego the typical power electronic sound for a release that is for the most part well structured offering a minimalist take on power electronics. At the very least Lee Howard's grasp of space and structure offers a degree of clarity that allows the listener to define the differing elements that comprise his sculpted noise output.
It's apparent from the first two tracks that Iron Fist of the Sun operate differently to many acts in the power electronics genre, and it's certainly a different sound to those progenitors of the genre who relied on a heavily sexualised brutal sense of noise. It's most obvious on the first two tracks of Who Will... where sounds coalesce around specific elements. On the opening track, 'For You I Will' everything builds around a slow lumbering bass tone and almost tick-tock hi-hat rhythm. Joined by a smattering of percussive clatter and layering of frequencies, his voice here, reduced to a ripple of shredded electronic noise, acts as another layer of texture. The effect is like a minimal take on the current Sutcliffe Jugend sound. A sense of veiled tension can be found on the following track, 'This Dog Has No Master'. Here electronics quiver to a slow pulsing heartbeat throb, as a treated voice tears through this, augmented by subdued metallic clanging.
The sense of structured minimalism that Iron Fist of the Sun achieve on the first two tracks is thrown by the opening minutes of the third track, 'Be Forever Green', with its chaotic merging of rampaging noise and industrial clatter, cut with frequencies and wayward keyboard throb. And that's before the distorted vocals kick in. If it all sounds a mess, then it probably is. Yet somehow a discernible pattern takes shape around the overheated keyboard throb and distorted aggro vocals transforming this into a powerful structured noise piece. In many ways 'Be Forever Green' is mere foreplay to the noise climax of what, uh, comes next.
'Saltpulse' is by far the most expansive and progressive track on Who Will... Building from slow, shifting tones, laced with squirming frequencies, low generated hum and electro pulses. All these disparate elements cut away allowing it to reconfigure itself as chaotic noise, which fizzes and burns, like an electrical blowout, just as a low hum begins to emanate from the wreckage as shredded hollered vocals rip through to an oscillating hum. And while distorted vocals are standard stuff in the world of power electronics, the contrast between drones and treated vocals certainly offer something unique to Iron Fist of the Sun's sculpted take on power electronics.
The title track which closes this doesn't achieve the power of the preceding tracks but it does allow Lee Howard to place his treated rasp amidst lunging hard edged synth stabs, and maybe more importantly amongst electro acoustic tones and noise generated frequencies. It definitely marks something of a departure from the approach taken on the rest of Who Will....
While my preference was for the slow burning opening tracks on Who Will... the other harsher chaotic tracks prove Iron Fist of the Sun aren't your typical power electronics outfit. In many ways Iron Fist Of The Sun, like Prurient, are pushing power electronics into a new direction. There's clarity to be found in the sound of Iron Fist Of The Sun but Lee Howard's vocals are so shredded it's difficult to pinpoint his concerns. Who Will... doesn't offer cheap thrills, its sense of brutality is masked by his structured approach to noise. Iron Fist of the Sun don't lay it on too heavily, far too often noise artists rely on volume. Iron Fist of the Sun don't. Using space, structure and texture to gain effect, on Who Will Help Me Wash My Right Hand, Lee Howard proves himself to be a noise artist comfortable sculpting sound into noise forms. For more information go to www.coldspring.co.uk