STREAM: Cut Shutters "Here Are Our Fieles"
Cut Shutters’ Here Are Our Fieles is a noisy manifesto against all things conventional.
Like most noise acts, Cut Shutters defies easy definition. The group cryptically describes their work as “music for bugs”. More concretely, though, the band favors ambient noise as its subgenre of choice, crafting collages of sound that form vast and complex sonic landscapes.
For those unfamiliar, noise is a category of music that is defined (somewhat paradoxically) by its use of non-musical sounds like static and wind. Noise artists eschew traditional musical elements such as discernible melodies, rhythms, and song structures. In fact, this refusal to adhere to any kind of convention is why noise is considered a category of work rather than a cohesive genre.
If this definition seems nonsensical, it’s for a reason - the goal of noise is to push the boundaries of what is considered music.
Here Are Our Fieles does just that. The album is completely devoid of the catchy hooks and steady beats we have been conditioned to expect. Cut Shutters’ refusal to play by musical rules is even seen in their song naming process. The first track on the album is aptly titled “lksdjfjyttyd,” a name that is unintelligible, unmemorable, and totally unpronounceable. This is a pointed rejection of the convention of making song names catchy and meaningful. If it seems like Cut Shutters named this track by unceremoniously smashing their hands on a keyboard, they probably did..
Interestingly, the misuse of technology is a recurring theme. Cut Shutters shun traditional instrumentation in favor of hissing static, unrecognizably distorted vocals, and ASMR-inducing electrical crackling. One track even features an uninterrupted minute of high-pitched electronic whining. The album is heavily informed by the "aesthetic of failure”: the notion that technological malfunctions possess a beauty of their own.
A common misconception about noise music is that it is unrelentingly serious. On the contrary: Here Are Our Fieles is quite playful. Cut Shutters seem to make a game out of subverting listeners’ expectations. For example, the opening of “Siphonophora” resembles a conventional song. We hear a gradual fade-in then a series of notes that sound like the beginning of a pleasant piano tune. However, just as this expectation of a coherent song is established, it's completely destroyed. Cut Shutters begin omitting notes at key points, never allowing the track to resolve into a discernible melody. Listeners will find this either fascinating or frustrating - meaning that Cut Shutters are doing their job as noise artists by challenging what listeners will accept as music.
In truth, the success of a noise album is not measured by how pleasant its tracks are but whether it can make listeners reevaluate their preconceptions about what is and isn’t musical.
Here Are Our Fieles can. By the end of the album, even skeptical listeners may start hearing the secret messages encoded in its staticky, number station-like tracks.
Header image courtesy of Cut Shutters
Header image layout designed by Holden Foster