January 18, 2011 | 1:04pm
Regular Crossfade readers will recognize the name Beings, a local heavyish-arty-fuzzy group with a kickass female drummer. So who the, uh, hell, is this Rene Hell character sandwiched between them and No Age tonight at Grand Central? The answer: It's just one name for an idiosyncratic electronic artist who's so underground, he might hit the earth's core.
is just one of the many pseudonyms used by California-based 27-year-old Jeff Witscher
, who switches names with nearly every project. Past choices have included names like Marble Sky, Secret Abuse, and even Deep Jew. Each name change, too, signifies a change in style; past sonic excursions have traveled into noise-punk, then back to ambient, then back and forth again.
Most of his output has been released through super-limited-run CD-Rs and even cassettes, and Witscher maintains just about zero social media presence. So Rene Hell is probably his most accessible project to date for the mere fact that his new record under that name, Porcelain Opera
, has seen a proper "official" release on a label, Type Records
Not that the music is at all poppy. Like many blog darlings of late, Witscher explores the world of analog synths. But unlike all those blog darlings, he does so without any obvious nods to twentysomething nostalgia, or making feel-good music about beaches. Instead, Rene Hell's latest six-song collection is unapologetically dark, even aggressive -- although that doesn't mean it's fast.
Opening track "Razor. P+" begins with the kind of throbbing, clanging noises you would expect to turn into a cyber-goth EBM dancefloor track, but never reaches that velocity, instead stuttering around in a world of mumbled, rewound vocals. Later tracks, like "IV 18:54" (actually only 6:06 long), are gentler, though shrill, washes of ambient.
Whatever Witscher decides to unveil, it's sure to confuse the shit out of anyone expecting more one-two-go rock before No Age's set. So prepare yourself by streaming the Rene Hell record below, and smile knowingly as the unsuspecting cringe.