Glass Torn and War Shortage: The Purposeful Poisoning of a Shardless Society
Mike IX Williams
16:37 min • Auris Apothecary • December 1, 2011
Walter Beck reviews
One of the most notorious artists in the American underground, Mike IX Williams has plied his craft in numerous underground metal bands including Outlaw Order, Arson Anthem, and the legendary Eyehategod. But his solo work annihilates even the most nihilistic of his musical outputs. In 2011, he released his second solo spoken word record, Glass Torn and War Shortage: The Purposeful Poisoning of a Shardless Society.
The album itself is a tape consisting of harsh industrial noise mixed with Williams’ poetry. The music itself is enough to blow anyone away, alternating amongst the screeching feedback of southern-fried sludge, the flickering roaring wall of sound of noise artists such as Boyd Rice and Monte Cazazza, and blips of dirty blues riffs seeping through the mix. This doesn’t sound like the clean feedback of computer audio trickery; this is the grimy organic sounds of life in hell.
Just the music alone is enough to create a brutal vision of reality, but Williams’ words cut through the mix like a box razor. Coming in and out between the cracks in the sound, Williams presents a stark view of his life, seemingly straining his vocal chords to the point of physically splitting them in half. While his first solo release featured simply a stark vision presented in a relatively clean tone of voice, here nothing is clean. His voice sounds just as dirty and grisly as the noise that accompanies it. In terms of subject matter and the actual words he uses on the tape, it’s what we’ve come to expect from Mike IX: visions of an apocalyptic wasteland, devoid of beauty and living as we know it, where merely surviving another day is beating the odds.
Beyond the noise and vocals, the medium itself plays a part in Mike IX’s apocalyptic vision. The tape is what the label has termed an “anti-cassette”. It’s packaged in a clear plastic flip case, wax coated, and covered in shards of broken glass. As it reads on the label, “The enclosed cassette holds the potential to harm the purchaser physically, mentally and spiritually. It has been sealed shut for protection to guarantee that the only blood shed is that of the interacting listener.” If you want to experience Mike IX’s harsh vision, you’ll have to pay for it physically.
This release is a total package, everything from the music accompanying it to Williams’ bloodied words to the glass coated cassette itself. In a world where everything is pre-screened and pre-packed to be 100% safe, it’s great to see an artist release something that has the potential to be dangerous on a physical level. This certainly isn’t a release for the faint of heart, but if you’ve got a taste for the extreme ends of American avant-garde art, Mike IX’s anti-cassette is right up your alley.