Dialing In is Suquamish, Washington’s Reita Piecuch, who has carved out an interesting little niche for herself with a succession of albums culled from field recordings made during extensive travels in south Asia.. “Islamic Bomb” is (I believe) her third album and it focuses specifically on material gathered in Pakistan then manipulated into “dense, static-barbed walls of drone,” which sounded fairly enticing to me. Lamentably, actually hearing the album was largely an exasperating disappointment (though I would certainly classify this album more as “an ambitious failure” than “bad”).
The problem lies largely in how Piecuch tweaks her source material: while chattering street boys, prayer calls, and other exotic sounds are certainly discernible, they are stretched and overloaded until they become a shrill and murky cacophony. Of course, that may be exactly what Reita is setting out to do, but it is not especially enjoyable to listen to in an album-sized dose. Matters are often not helped by the accompanying instrumentation, which usually does very little to enhance the dense, crackling audio mud that forms the album’s backbone (the maddeningly repetitious two-chord harmonium progression in “We Burn Our Stillborns” was particularly unwelcome). That said, there is one fairly stunning track here (“Brought Down to This”) that hints at what could’ve been, as a howling male voice snakes and twines around a mournful woman amidst harsh feedback to truly chilling effect. The other six pieces, sadly, are not at all on the same level.
The line between “eerie and enigmatic” and “just ruined” is certainly a blurry one, but I think Reita ended up on the wrong side most of the time with this effort. I feel like there has to be some fascinating process-oriented concept behind it all, but the album’s description merely states that Piecuch’s methods are both “arcane” and “archaic.” While it basically sounds like a badly worn and possibly water-damaged tape of Islamic music being played through a dying walkman, I would probably revise my opinion of this album a bit if I were to learn that Reita had passed all her tapes through the digestive tract of a goat or something.
(On a more positive note, Reita’s unusual circular photographs, several of which adorn the album sleeve, are quite beautiful and unique.) 5/10 -- Anthony D'Amico (28 October, 2009)