Review: MAAAA - Decay and Demoralization
Maaaa are a duo that mostly keeps their noise "pure," only occasionally allowing slips of black metal sounds and imagery (i.e., their indecipherable logo).  The approach though is purely old school harsh noise:  no drone passages, no poetry, no drums or horns, just pure unadulterated feedback and junk metal.  The feedback squall of "Karelia" that stays frozen while the junk metal pounds around it definitely sounds like a nod to the US masters Macronympha.
"Must" isn't as clearly based on banging on metal garbage, but instead sounds like windchimes from hell rattling around as broken megaphones randomly spew out random sounds in the distance before everything is reduced to simply water running and echoed feedback, providing one of the few "calm" moments on the album, and even that is a bit of a stretch.  "Be" cranks back up the clattering metal percussion, with warbling noises and a few sustained tones, but for the most part remains a consistently flowing river of violent racket.
"Destroyed" represents the closest this disc gets to a rhythm, but it still makes Test Dept. and SPK sound quaint in comparison.  Above that, it's a jumpy mix, with feedback-drenched echoes jumpily edited together to provide a raw, dynamic experience.  The metal elements of "Vivian" are almost industrial in their overt presentation, but are overshadowed by the roar of a jet engine blasting along, with only slight variations in pitch, so it sort of flirts with the Harsh Noise Walls subgenre but with the variations that occur keep it a bit more varied.  There is an almost jarring cut to what must be a recording in a bathroom that segues into a torrent of black metal before going back to do the noise thing, which makes for an interesting irony…it's the more conventional sounds that are shocking within this context.
The closer "Satan Edge" actually constitutes about half of the disc, making it a substantial piece of work.  Beginning with a worn vinyl rendition of a black mass, it goes quickly into sharp, waxy noise and layered feedback, with an emphasis on the high-end frequencies.  Surprisingly, it's not quite AS pummeling as the other tracks, letting a bit more of the layers show through, but I'm speaking in relative terms here.  There are a few oddities, such as some almost glitch-type sounds and more sampled thrash guitar, but on the whole it stays a long, heavy track of varied sounds.
Because of its strict adherence to an old school noise mentality, there's not a lot of surprise or innovation to be found, but not that there needs to be.  It sounds as if it could be from the mid '90s, or, as I think of it, the Golden Age of Noise, hand-dubbed onto a cassette tape out of necessity, not because of it being "cool."  My only complaint, which is probably showing my age more than I should, is that it's just a bit too loud.  It reminds me of those noise releases Relapse put out, where it is intentionally mastered at a painfully high level.  It ends up requiring too much fine tuning on the volume knob to find that sweet spot of loudness, but not so much that everything is obscured (or deafness begins to set in).  It's a small complaint though, and the positives definitely outweigh that single negative.
As a Polish wife and husband pairing, MAAAA would receive some leeway for these qualities were they to attempt anything incoherent with the harsh noise genre they so clearly adore. Yet by the grace of the self-effacing sport and total sonic saturation, excuses are not needed as competencies are high where aspirations are shunned. Best thought of as a three-part release, ‘Decay and Demoralization’ re-presents two former cassette releases and an original track which outlasts these prior tracks combined. From a split with Torturing Nurse (who will be providing the next release for Mind Flare Media, all-told their third following this one), the four tracks “Karelia”, “Must”, “Be”, “Destroyed” add up to under 15 minutes and succeed by the diligent chore of editing which the subsequent 20- and 40-minute tracks do not. This is not to suggest there is much internal logic which the four pieces share and these latter tracks do not. Making their music just of pedals and metals, MAAAA create a classic sonic violence in bright detail. Masochistic and impulsive, each track a blistering, tweetered, searing noise arrives with little logic, arrhythmic punches and tweaks jutting regularly, exhausting description and allowing only vague shrugs toward the masters of Japanese abnegation, Merzbow, Masonna, you get the idea. Fifth track “Vivian” and sixth “Satan Edge” do benefit somewhat by their duration, as the obscene lengths smuggle a black comment of their own, with the former revealing recorded sounds beneath the tumult and the latter threading coarse red threads throughout its excess which color-shifts handsomely into a loan doom riff which wrenches the last staticky bits from the ledger. Pro CD in jewel case.
Noise can be kind of like black metal.  It's either really bad or really good.  It's probably because it's so "easy" to create.  Get some pedals, samples, distort them to hell, throw a microphone around and make an album.  This is the usual and the worst, mainly because so many keep doing it to the point where I just want to turn on an empty TV station and scream over it myself to cash in.  The bulk of good noise has been screeching out of Japan for over three decades now, but other areas, like Eastern Europe, are still relatively under the surface.  So far, from what I've heard, the vast majority of such acts from this part of the world are pretty damn good.
MAAAA is a Polish/Russian husband and wife duo that started in 2003.  Their focus is a "punk" ethic, so they purposely take a classic approach.  Generally, something like this is pretty unknown in the West, so it's nice to see a professional release, as opposed to the "cool" noise scene DIY ethic, which means burning a piece of shit CD-R on your computer and packaging it in metal to hide the fact that it's utter garbage, or rather showing that it is garbage so you know where to put it.  Decay and Demoralization is a collection of older, out-of-print tracks from extremely limited releases, including a split with China's Torturing Nurse.  Let's check it out.
First, the presentation.  Decay and Demoralization has crust punk-styled art; everything is black and white with a grainy, Xeroxed appearance featuring images pieced together a la Disrupt, but not simply all over the place, there's a system to it.  The cover is a swirl of dead fish and human bodies that indicates what to expect.  The dead sun in the middle with the double logo of the band is a cool look as well, kind of like a mouth.  Inside, you have a rotting fish-man floating among dead fish with track info in cut-out form, and on the back there's a series of fish with rotting human heads.  The track list also has a cut-out look and the CD art is a chaotic swirl of fish bones and human bones, sort of reiterating the front. So, good presentation.
Second, the content.  I have a big problem with re-releases of older music.  I understand this stuff was very limited, I just prefer a release to be original.  All of the songs in Decay and Demoralization were previously published.  If you happen to own any of it, there's no reason to purchase this album.  It may give the West a chance to access otherwise impossible to find material, but I'd rather listen to something new.
Third, the music.  Decay and Demoralization has one overall problem, the volume.  It seems silly to mention, but this shit is LOUD.  I mean really loud.  They should have turned this stuff down, it will blow your ears off as soon as you put it in.  I get it, it's noise, but let me turn it up myself.  I guess it goes with the in-your-face concept, but it bothered me a little.  Anyway, let's get to the songs.
Karelia opens with classic harshness, suddenly bringing out a combination of metal bashing and power electronics. Then the action breaks with a white noise thrust and goes back into the song proper.  Add some screaming for a moment, and then comes an assault of brutal sludge.  Nice opener, sets the mood for the rest of the album.
Next we have Must.  Good contrast.  It opens to a white noise landscape with random moans, almost like coughing.  It's a very disconcerting track overall, really tugs at your sanity, but not in a bad way.  Near the end they seem to reveal the source, it appears to be noise created using running water.  A nice movement from the first track.
Next up is Be.  This one pounds into your head again with harsh rumbles, mixed with vocalizations similar to Must.  Lots more banging metal, and some almost 50s-style sci-fi effects later on encased in warbling, rumbling earthquakes of noise.  Pretty standard, but it's mixed up with some distinct tweeting.
Destroyed is the fourth track.  Very similar to one and three, you could have almost cut the beginning and end, stitched it in the others and made one track.  Still some variety, but doing this stuff for too long can be redundant.  A little too similar to the others, and it's reaching the danger point of being too typical.
The next track is Vivian, from an ultra-rare split cassette release.  Now you're suddenly given a twenty-plus-minute assault, whereas the first four were generally short.  The length enables MAAAA to create more substance, and the addition of insane screaming is a plus.  There's a sudden break close to the end where it sounds like someone is going to the bathroom, and then there's a crust punk blast attack followed by more noise until the end with a little more crust to end it.  Good, random craziness.
Finally, you have Satan Edge.  Both this and the previous track were single-song releases.  This song was solo on CD-R, obviously because it's nearly forty minutes.  Again, the length is a benefit, it enables the band to more properly construct soundscapes.  Satan Edge opens with an Aleister Crowley sample, and one that's a bit too obvious.  I prefer to not know where samples are coming from, otherwise I'll assume some sort of typical direction.  Are we going to do the Satan thing now?  I hope not.  However, I must say it gets much better from there.  Starts out brutally harsh with more power electronics and metal clanging, goes for quite awhile, and around twenty minutes slowly melts into a more minimalist approach, which is a welcome change.  From this point is starts to do its own thing, providing good contrast.  Then, around thirty minutes, they break down into a lovely, deep doom riff coupled with high-pitched sine-wave style white noise with crackling.  It ends this way and the final riff rumbles out of existence slowly.  I really liked this part, it was a nice end.
Overall, Decay and Demoralization is a successful release, but it depends what you're looking for.  If you're expecting something new in noise, don't bother, but if you're looking for something that does "classic" well, this is it.  There's no problem with a band taking a classic approach, just be aware that you're going to hear some Hijokaidan, maybe some Otomo Yoshihide, and then a little Graves at Sea for kicks.  It's not a bad thing to be classic, if you can do it right, which MAAAA has managed.  However, they rely a little too much on straight rawness.  There are plenty of interesting points to break up the action, but perhaps the first track, song two, and the last two would have been enough.  Songs three and four sound a little too similar to the rest.  Still, I can see where the band is going with this.  I'd be interested in hearing what they're planning to do and there's the potential here to take their music to the next level.  That is, doing something unique.  For example, mixing some of that doom riffing with harsh noise and this "punk" attitude with screaming could create a highly appealing mix.  The band should consider branching out instead of possibly relying too much on the safety of doing it the old way.  They do it well, and I definitely enjoyed it, but I'd like to see where they go from here.
The Polish noise duo MAAAA have released numerous albums on different labels since their inception in 2005. 'Decay and Demoralization' brings together the projects side of two separate short run splits. And the original splits were a CDr with Torturing Nurse, called "We are so fucking harsh! You are so fucking suck!" from 2007, and the split cassette with the act called Out of Focus, which came under the vivid title 'Blood and Shit' from 2008. This CD is a pressing of 500 copies, which makes sure more people hear the sonic chaos that is MAAAA.
The Xerox-quality looking artwork (printed on professional printers paper) of unidentified carnage can serve as a little warm up for what MAAAA are about to inflict upon your ears. 'Decay and Demoralization' is a highly chaotic and merciless album, taking noise to its explicit meaning. The mind melting, metallic shrieks that MAAAA uses on the six track of the album are restless and painful, and do not allow a single softer moment for the listeners to rest their ears. The first four tracks, each lasting about 3 minutes give or take, are all sharp, harsh and to the point, while the remaining two are much longer. The fifth track, "Vivian", is about 20 minutes long, followed by "Satan Edge" which is almost twice as long. These two tracks allow more artistic freedom for MAAAA and within these tracks we can find many interesting turns.
"Satan Edge" begins with the voices of a black mass ceremony. I don't think this satanic introduction can be treated as shocking or give the track any added value, but the track itself is wonderful and can stand proudly on its own without this satanic greeting. The beginning is dense and packed with electronic shrieks and distorted walls of noise, which grow even denser and harsher as time goes by. About 30 minutes into the track, silence comes for a brief, shocking moment. MAAAA then surprises us with the entrance of deep, heavy and slow guitar chords, which is a lovely addition, and makes this track even more interesting. As these guitar strokes fade away, this heavy, hostile and violent album ends with deathlike silence that lasts for a good few minutes, letting all the energy caught in the havoc of the six tracks dissipate. “Decay and Demoralization” is a well worthy album to those who know that pain is pleasure
Although having released more than 15 CDRs in the course of 5 years, “Decay and Demoralization” is the first official release by Polish harsh noise duo Maaaa, out on the US label Mind Flare Media. Pure noise is all you can expect from this release. From the opening track, “Karelia”, you get a full blast of energy, a dirty uproar of metallic sounds under the treatment of a number of fx. Grimy noises emerge from your speakers like blows from a sonic flamespurt in an all-out-attack style of action. “Must” is composed of quite different materials compared to the first track, its hissing sounds together with sounds of dripping water creating a more minuscule mass, while “Be” returns to familiar realms, sounding like a circuit-bent amplified mixer. Scattered, fucked-up beats make their appearance in “Destroyed” thus closing the first round of short-length tracks. Then comes “Vivian”, a twenty minute track where the unbearable loudness of the first ten minutes gives its way to sounds of malfunctioning equipment in a hellish worksite. The electronic and metal clamor calm down to reveal something that resembles to the sounds of someone taking a bath (or masturbating?). The forty minute closing track “Satan Edge” opens with a cheesy recording of a satanic rite. The electronic noise mayhem of the beginning give way to a heavy guitaristic doomoid tempo that ends the record in a low frequency hum…
Overall, “Decay and Demoralization” is the strict minimum you can expect from a decent noise group, it’s harsh sounds and power electronics seeming at times unstructured (but who’s talking about structures in noise anyway) and cheaply processed, sounding more like a recording of a rehearsal and less like a complete work. There’s the same in-your-face approach to sound throughout the record but still it seems to me that Maaaa are still in search of their own proper sound, trying to define a more stable aesthetic. But then again, hey, it’s noise, take it as it is and let your ears bleed…
By no means is this a release for the faint of heart. The first track, Karelia,” starts off with such blaring intensity, an indication of the harsh assault of noise you are about to encounter on the album. Every track contains shattering, raving-mad power electronics, electronic blips and whirrs pushed to the max and terrible sounds of grinding produced in the doctor’s office from hell grate upon every corpuscle in your body.
When the epic twenty minute long track entitled “Vivian” (my personal favourite) reaches a climatic end you’ll find yourself gripping for dear life as the biting, high frequency machinery finishes off the last of the stereocilia you still have. The most beautiful thing about this track is the aural journey it takes you on. Yes, it is just as intense and assaulting. It brings long bouts of piercing noise that the other tracks have and incorporates temperamental static drones, extreme violence and jarring mechanic screams. “Vivian” does all this but builds to such an indescribable intensity juxtaposed with the suspicious sounds of a man in his bath (maybe). Creepy.
Listening to the entire album is moving and overpowering. Don’t be surprised when the stomach turns and the ears start begging for mercy. It’s well worth the time and patience. Every track brings a new structure of sound without letting up on the vigour.
Varied debut album of that Polish harsh noise duo. In contradiction to many others MAAA add an atmospheric component to their distorted sound and often proceed changes and turns, they speed ahead and slow down again. So this album without any computer-generated sound is, despite of all limitations of that genre never boring, though still a hard work to consume. The Polish MAAA don't need to hide behind other noise acts.
The material featured on this album has been out of print for years. It was originally released in extremely limited, 40-50 print CD-R editions in Russia. The first four titles come from a split CD-R with Torturing Nurse, the other two tracks, one 20,the other 39 (!) minutes long from other split releases on CD-R and tape respectively. My favorite track especially for it's Satanic sample is the maximum length one called "Satan Edge".
Nice harsh noise release for lovers of that sound.

Американский лейбл «Mind Flare Media» поскреб по сусекам Карельско-Польского дуэта «Maaaa», собрав на один диск ранние вещи, увидевшие свет такими мизерными тиражами, что не стоит и говорить об их доступности. Четырехтрековый императив «Karelia Must Be Destroyed» был реализован в 2007 году на сплите с «Torturing Nurse», носившем идеальное для харш нойза название «We are So Fucking Harsh! You are So Fucking Suck!», трек «Vivian» увидел свет годом позже на кассете «Blood & Shit», примерно в то же время «Satan Edge» был реализован на болванке.
     «Maaaa» делают, возможно, самый беспредельный нойз – нужно получить справку от психиатра, прежде чем слушать «Decay And Demoralization». При помощи своего стандартного набора (педали эффектов, металлические предметы, голос, «поливокс», различные сэмплы и прочее, что можно зачастую охарактеризовать как мусор) дуэт выстраивает постоянно движущуюся стену шума, олдскульный harsh, лишенный каких бы то ни было новомодных «наворотов», отчего и снискавший популярность у представителей мировой шумовой общественности, для которых главное, чтобы «noise» был «pure». Я подозреваю, что треки «Karelia Must Be Destroyed» были записаны в одной квартире, люди просто перемещались по комнатам (или, как в случае с «Must», заглядывали в ванную и записывали журчание воды по трубам) и шумели-гремели, задействуя акустические особенности помещения. «Karelia» - не очень быстрый трек, начавшийся с громыхания металлических предметов, подвергнутому максимальному дисторшену, едкий шум, высверливающий в голове микроотверстия и наполняющий их гнилой черной жижей. «Must» - упомянутая выше «ванная медитация», самая спокойная вещь на диске. «Be» - прерывистый агрессивный хрип, разжигающий ярость, перетекающую в «Destroyed», композицию, о которой говорит ее название. Это предел человеческого тела и разума, грохот и лязг, хаотичное мельтешение до кровавых мальчиков в глазах.
      «Vivian», начинаясь с постепенно рассыпающегося железного ритма, являет эталонный «Karelian noise». Завывающий ветер со всей злобой кидает в лицо ледяную пыль, срывая кожу и мясо с костей. Пронзительный свист на грани восприятия. При этом присутствует ощущение, что все тоже писалось в квартире в реальном времени – когда кому-то из участников захотелось сходить в ванную, он просто встал и ушел, не выключив микрофон, отчего в треке возникла непродолжительная «водная» пауза. Еще здесь есть несколько экстремально коротких black metal-сэмплов, мелькающих словно двадцать пятый кадр. «Satan Edge» начинается с черной мессы, на которой славят Сатану и прочих обитателей Ада, продолжается монотонным среднескоростным потоком, собранным из абразивного шелеста и писка и начиненным острыми высокочастотными колючками, а под занавес уходит в гнетущую тишину, в которой медленно тают рычащие гитарные риффы и затихают блуждающие по углам звуки.
     Рекомендовать «Decay And Demoralization» можно только упертым фанатам стиля – но уж эти люди наверняка назовут «Maaaa» «лучшими из лучших» и будут правы. Всем остальным подойдет в качестве пытки для домочадцев и соседей.       

Crawling out from the hinterlands of Poland and Russia, the husband and wife team of MAAAA have been dealing out punishing live shows across Eastern Europe for the last four years, attempting to take all of their sonic interests – power electronics, table noise, industrial, hardcore and grindcore punk – and combine them into a solid lump of metallic noise. Decay And Demoralization (MFM002) contains six tracks of tremendous fatalistic and negative noise, performed with seething energy and close attention to shocking dynamics. MAAAA compel us to pay attention to what they’re doing by dint of their sheer ferocity – it’s virtually impossible to ignore these continual waves of anger and hate. Tracks 1-4 are short and punchy examples of their brutal craft, and were originally released in 2007 as a split with Torturing Nurse. There’s also one half of a split tape from 2008, and an entire CDR release Satan Edge, the latter doling out a full 40 minutes of unstoppable heavy flow; it’s like being trapped between the teeth of heavy gears and being melted in a vat of acid at the same time. “No computer generated sounds”, is the proud emblem of quality for their work; instead everything is hand-knitted from a tabletop of FX pedals, pre-recorded tapes, and lumps of metal (hopefully gnarled, rusty and ugly mis-shapes from the factory floor). The sleeve is beset with numerous images of decaying animals (fish and/or men) reduced to a skeletal state. All the above elements may give you the impression that MAAAA are simply pressing all the buttons that have been pressed by many other harsh-noisers for the last 30 years, but this is a strong release which I recommend.
I experienced some sort of conflict as I heard this album for the firs time. For one, the tracks that amount to “Karelia Must Be Destroyed” feel like something of a prolonged intro to the pair of even longer pieces that practically dominate most of the work. I feel that this sentence-structured sequence should have been something all its own, but thats not to say that it doesn’t fit well among the two final entries, as the four tracks do include subtleties that make “Vivian” and “Satan Edge” forces to be reckoned with.
This 20 assault on your dome starts of like the tracks that proceeded it, lots of cacophony made up of walls of processed feedback, ultra fizzy distortions of many colors.. all the trademark components of what Harsh Noise can be, but with time comes progression and change. The changes in this track are very well blended into each other, and here’s the rub: Though this is a Noise album, the most exceptional and interesting sounds as well as hard ones are the ones that are not ear-bleeders. As was the case with MAAAA’s split with K2, we can hear some quality synth work woven into the twenty minute track.
This begins with a clip from a Satanic happening we’re all familiar with. Nice enough, and again we go into a storm of auditory blitzkrieg. Now, this motherfucker is about forty minutes long! This track also illustrates my point even better than “Vivian”. About halfway through the initial scorch, we get sounds that are not as aggressive, but are full of character, most are still pretty crunchy, but the scare factor sets in quite nicely. It is about here that I heard one of the finest bass-rumbles of my young life. I suggest you scope it out too…
There are 500 copies of this album out there. Thats an impressive number for a piece of this genre.