††† Released in 2002 by Manifold Records, Aube's Howling Obsession is one of the more menacing recordings to come from Akifumi Nakajima's long-running experimental noise project. Like most Aube releases, this focuses on a single sound source that Nakajima proceeds to manipulate and expand into a wider array of sounds, here crafting a black soundworld using only a small speaker to generate his noises, the black cone of his speaker transformed into a gateway into a dark chromium universe. The four main studio tracks that make up Howling Obsession were originally intended for a cassette release on an ill-fated US label that never materialized, and were revised and re-mastered for this proper release through Manifold, supplemented by a sprawling live track.
††† Nakajima produces some stunning droneworks on Howling Obsession using just that single speaker; the title track is an intense piece of deadzone soundscapery, an eighteen minute sprawl that starts out with just the muted buzz of an electrical current, a deep, almost subliminal pulse felt more than heard as it slowly fades into view. It slowly expands into a mesmeric static tone-prayer, gradually joined by layers of piercing high-frequency feedback that swell in volume, somewhat comparable to the minimalist nihilistic noise experiments of Italian artist N., but more meditative, focusing on the soft fluttering movement of the speakerbuzz as he gently manipulates his sound across the length of the track. It's disrupted by Nakajima's volleys of scrapes and rattling noises, created by running the speaker noise through a variety of effects processing, drawing back to the sound of distant thunder before surging back into a storm of chittering distortion, an insectile swarm of crackling noise that proceeds to spread out into a textural field of black static somewhat akin to some of The Rita's more subdued recordings. The other three studio tracks that follow range from brief feedback mantras that stretch rhythmic noises across a black void ("Replicate") and surreal soundscapes populated with malformed mechanical loops, spurts of acrid distortion and searingly abrasive locustblast electronics that reach Bastard Noise-style levels of sonic violence ("M.O.L."), to the ghostly, over-modulated chrome-wet drones and asthmatic industrial throb that dominates "Ex-Terminal". All in all, it's some of the bleakest material I've heard from Aube, and rather captivating.
††† You can hear some elements of the previous tracks in his live performance of "Howling Obsession" from 1997 that closes the disc. At first this twenty-four minute performance goes much darker and creepier, a hushed dronescape of delicate feedback streaks burning out against the black aural backdrop, deep speaker rumblings rising and falling across the length of the track, punctuated by some seriously tinnitus-inducing high end feedback. But later on, the set develops into a more pugilistic din of harsh noise, erupting into blasts of garbled 8-bit chipviolence. An intense enough experience just listening to this track on the album, I can only imagine what it was like to be there in the flesh as Nakajima coaxed these monstrous sounds from his equipment.