Buried Secrets

Painkiller - Buried Secrets ©1992 Earache
1. Tortured Souls
2. One Eyed Pessary
3. Trailmarker
4. Blackhole Dub
5. Buried Secrets
6. The Ladder
7. Executioner
8. Black Chamber
9. Skilled
10. The Toll

It was Opposite Day when Mick Harris, John Zorn and Bill Laswell named their little project Painkiller, because quite frankly, the noise and aural atrocities performed here are very much causing much agony. I've never quite been able to completely stand John Zorn's squacking saxophone. While he is able to occasionally create some interesting sounds, much of the screeching and unrestrained noise comes across as tired and annoying. Meanwhile, Laswell and Harris create a varied barrage of backing sounds, anywhere from dub (which works remarkably well) to all out punk fest to blast beat destruction. Add some shouts, subtract song structure and you get a half hour of quite intolerable noise. Is there a point to this? Was it fun for the musician's to create? Undoubtedly. But be sure you are of the highest tolerance for unbearable noises in the guise of normal instruments before you bother with Painkiller.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1999

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Execution Ground

Painkiller - Execution Ground ©1994 Subharmonic
CD one:
1. Parish Of Tama
2. Morning Of Balachaturdasi
3. Pashupatinath
CD two:
4. Pashupatinath
5. Parish Of Tama

Painkiller is such an iffy proposition. Though the pedigree of the three musicians involved is extremely high, there is that tendency of the trio to delve into freeform music that borders on intolerable and pointless. Buried Secrets is a great example of how Painkiller goes to great lengths to make their music appealing to a very small, select group of listeners. And chances are, Painkiller cares not.

Execution Ground is a bit more palatable and digestible than their previous effort. Though the first track, "Parish of Tama (Ossuary Dub)", starts out in the unstructured, free for all mode, it finally settles into a more interesting ambient soundscape atmosphere after six minutes or so. The dichotomy between the jarring noises the open the album to the more expansive sound collages shows that either my tastes cannot stand John Zorn's noisy sax bleating or that uncontrolled music is precisely that, uncontrolled. Once Bill Laswell and Mick Harris settle into a sonically pleasing dub pattern, Zorn's sax inclusion sounds much more appropriate, even if there are times where it sounds like a kitten mewling. All three tracks on the first disc are lengthy and travel rather aimlessly, though a lot of the journey is intriguing along the way. Those with short attention spans might long for someone to take Harris, Zorn and Laswell aside and suggest that some trimming be done here and there. The second "ambient" disc takes two of the three tracks and reworks them into the ambient motif. There actually isn't a whole lot of difference between the two discs, other than disc two is a bit more atmospheric and expansive. The mood is creepier at times and somewhat unsettling, but who said ambient music has to be happy and undemanding new age?

Painkiller's Execution Ground is indeed a more interesting release than Buried Secrets. Some of the excessive traits of the trio do give much creedence to those who suggest avant garde music can often become self-indulgent exercises in pointless music, but this double CD set retains enough substance to be worth investigating.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2000

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