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The Separation of Church & Hate
CD Album 2003 | Silber 023
9 tracks, 48 minutes
$12 ($18 international, $5 download (256 kbps, ~85 megs))
: Listen to the track Amazing Disgrace
: More info
Clang Quartet is the project name used by North Carolina drummer and sound artist Scotty Irving, who I'd first heard collaborating on one of Bret Hart's Duets series discs (he's also played with Eugene Chadbourne among others). On the Silbermedia web site Clang Quartet is described as "a performance-art piece based on the life of Christ." Irving's live performances are mostly improvisational percussion/performance-art shows ("based metaphorically on the life of Jesus Christ"), though on The Separation Of Church & Hate he uses all manner of object manipulation, electronics, guitar, and field recordings. Tracks like "Under God" showcase the variety of object manipulation heard across the album, and in this case it conjured up images in my mind of a sound-art take on the metal god guitar solo combined with an acid jam. Irving wrenches some cool sounds from whatever he's assaulting and the effect is harsh but not brain blistering, allowing the listening to tune in to everything that's happening. Along similar lines is "Companions", a combination of whimsical melody, scraping and scratching, and someone making loving cooing noises to their cat. Irving does a good job of blending aggression and atmospherics, and, once again, the listener is at all times able to dissect the layers and hear the variety of individual sounds. Among the other standout tracks is the cosmic noise freakout and chaotic carnival atmosphere of "The Winds And The Sea Obey Him". And on "Amazing Disgrace" Irving slowly builds a monster symphony, starting off with lo-fi dissonant acoustic guitar strumming, soon joined by dancey beats. Next comes electric guitar doing the same styled strum as the acoustic. Synths come in next, followed by a brain bashing noise assault, alien synths and power rock drumming. I really liked this one.
Irving also reveals his views on Christianity with various samples. He attacks the racism and hypocrisy he sees in the church on the title track. "The Infidel Within" is a diatribe against Proctor and Gamble that has something to do with the company being associated with a satanic church. It could just be Irving's sense of humor but given the warped nature of religious groups I suspect these are from genuine television and/or radio shows. So we hear a string of these news reports backed by Irving's rock drumming and later some electronics. It's pretty wild and even hilarious at times, though it got a little old by the end of its 11 minute length. On "Hadephobia" we really get into quirky techno dancing, which also includes a discussion of the nature and existence of hell. And I laughed like.... errrrr... hell... when the track opened with the line, "Marines don't die, they just go to hell to regroup." A varied experience for sound-art, free-improv and noise-art fans that will require multiple listens for proper digestion.
~ Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations

Clang Quartet is Scotty Irving, a weirdly inventive and disturbing noisemaker that excels in found sounds and creating unsettling, experimental lo-fi music. In the name of the Lord, no less. And while the incessant preaching of tracks like "Hadephobia" and the title track are musically unimpressive, theologically banal and overlong, there is more than enough good stuff on here to make this a worthwhile and engaging listen.
Irving's thing is rhythm: he plays loads of instruments on here, most notably "The Crutch" -- apparently "a work-in-progress that features a variety of sound sources on a crutch" -- but they are all used to create different tonalities and layers of rhythm and skips. Not in a Stomp sort of way, thank God, but with a dark, disturbed Captain Beefheart-goes-to-Christian-art-school sort of approach.
Sometimes too unmotivated to ever matter beyond the first curious listen, Irving also has problems knowing when to stop -- far too often the songs drag on for too long. But tracks like "Amazing Disgrace," "The Winds & the Sea Obey Him," and the disturbingly loopy "Companions" drive home the point: While this is a potentially over-the-top, sanctimonious affair, The Separation of Church & Hate eventually proves to be well worth revisiting and closer inspections.
~ Stein Haukland, Ink 19

Clang Quartet is the one-man project of drummer Scott Irving, and The Separation of Church & Hate is a recorded version of Irving's now-infamous live show and performance art piece that merges the disparate worlds of experimental noise and true-blue Christianity. Irving plays his home-designed percussion megalith called "the Crutch" (a jumble of saw blade, broken cymbal, office stapler, and various other noisemakers) while hopping around in spiritual rapture and, all the while, drawing directly on events in the life of Christ.
This could be a genuinely fascinating, groundbreaking mix of influences, and the best tracks on The Separation of Church & Hate prove that religious conviction and the experiments of Irving's heroes (Throbbing Gristle, This Heat) can coexist with surprising fluidity. "The Winds & the Sea Obey Him" is a dynamic explosion of rapturous-sounding white noise and industrial clatter; "Amazing Grace" adds acoustic guitar and various synth layers until it reaches a searing climax; "Under God" and "Companions" exude dynamic chatter between staticky vocal samples and rhythmic noises from "the Crutch" that sounds like a spiritually heated conversation. Unfortunately, the rest of The Separation of Church & Hate takes continuous vocal samples from a southern Baptist convention and strings them across minimal backgrounds of percussion and crunchy ambience -- all sounding like a mediocre, white-trashy sermon filtered through an AM radio receiver or two.
Even with these few missteps, Irving has at least succeeded in transcending the myopic rules of a majority of his religious brethren, crafting an occasionally intense, consistently experimental album. The Separation of Church & State is an anomaly -- a genuine headtrip for believers and unbelievers alike.
~ Matt Pierce, Splendid

Silber records is not a label that attracts the mass media and you only need to hear one of their artists style to understand that. There roster consists of beyond left field artists such as the Clang Quartet. There is one man behind this project and his name is Scotty Irving. The Separation of Church and Hate is his sophomore release diving into the field of religion. I don't know how to break it down, but the best description I can give to you is layers of rhythms close to a poorman's techno. Majority of the tracks have spoken messages that are done up like speeches or a newscast reports over the abstract music. Tracks like "The Infidel Within" wages through the controversy of the rumor that Satan is in business with the company Proctor and Gamble. This rumor actually still exists today. It was something that started by a rival that said profits of Proctor and Gamble go to the Church of Satan. It also speaks that Christians are easily mislead due to their lack of thinking for themselves. I don't think Scotty gives his stand on this, but throws both sides into the ring for the listener to decide. Other topics that he dives into are racial prejudices, and decay of society. This is a cd not for your average listener, but the oddball thinkers are ones who are exhausted of any sort of melody. There are splashes of guitar, keyboards, bass that appear, but don't really stand out as they take a backseat to the beats and some whacked out effects.
Not my cup of tea, but I know this would go down easy for the one or two of you out there.
~ Kristian Anderson, Reader Weekly

Scotty Irving embraces controversy and his second solo album as the Clang Quartet is as disturbing and uncomfortable as can be. Both leftfield music fans and Christians will agree. His sound constructions include drum machines, percussion (after all, he is a percussionist and most of the music is rhythmic in essence), noise generated on a self-made instrument called "The Crutch," occasional rhythm guitars and one-finger keyboard melodies. Tracks like "Companions" and "Under God" pair harsh noise and free improvisation. The avant-garde music fan will find them interesting, especially "The Winds & The Sea Obey Him," which throws together two different performances in the left and right speaker -- it sounds like a battle of the bands between two incarnations of the Nihilist Spasm Band. Elsewhere one thinks of Monty Cantsin (megaphone Industrial poet extraordinaire) jamming with Helgoland. But what strikes most about Clang Quartet is Irving¹s televangelist-inspired rants. An affirmed Christian, he tackles religious issues like: the rumors that the company Proctor & Gamble had ties to satanism ("The Infidel Within"), the existence of Hell ("Hadephobia"), racism and peer pressure ("The Separation of Church & Hate"). Hearing these topics in the context of so-called experimental music is very unusual and disturbing. Again, this reviewer doesn¹t think religion can¹t have a place in avant-garde music, but one is tempted to interpret Irving¹s speeches as satire (in the vein of Rhythm Activism) or hoax. And the way he weaves excerpts from a news feature on one of his concerts into "Two or More Gathered in HIS Name Part 2" pushes self-indulgence to a new limit. Be warned.
~ François Couture, All-Music Guide