Yellow Green Red on Sissy Spacek & Smegma’s ‘Ballast’ LP


How many hours of noise do you think John Wiese has listened to in his life? Maybe it’d be easier to measure by days, or weeks? With over twenty years of recorded noise-based activity under his belt (and still as prolific as ever), it’s incredible to think of the sheer volume of noise (by both measurements) he’s consumed as well as created. It’s news to me that he is also an occasional member of America’s longest-running noise unit, Smegma, and this new album features two lengthy Sissy Spacek reworks of an original Smegma live radio performance. Wiese’s Sissy Spacek style is to generally splice and cut sound at a speed beyond the human brain’s capacity to follow – it’s like trying to count raindrops in a storm – and while there’s plenty of that here, Wiese also lets certain segments linger or overlap in unusual ways. It might only mean that the average length of a sound goes from the usual Sissy Spacek average of around one second up to three seconds, but that makes a difference, particularly with the live drums, which maintain a constant-if-unpredictable presence. Smegma surely provided ample material to work with, their trademark kitchen-sink improvisation a bounty for adventurous ears, and Wiese leaves no stone unturned in these two lengthy pieces. More environmentally-friendly than using a Q-tip for one’s ear-cleaning regimen!


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