Reviews Archive

Interview Archive

Hall Of Fame






    published in Canada, April 1998

    The last Scorn CD arrived in the form of a live recording Whine, as Mick Harris ends his dark dub-hop alter ego while disassociating himself from a contract with Belgium's KK Records. Whine was released by Invisible Records, for whom Mick has remixed Czechoslovakia's Transmissia and produced Italy's Matera. It seems he's quite down with Martin Atkins and the Invisible team, spreading his sound to the previously mentioned bands and to disc two of Pigface's A New High In Low. Invisible has also just released a two CD set of the dark hop and drum and bass singles released by Harris' Possible Records label, Sonics Everywhere. Harris plans to develop further compilations for release on Invisible.

    Whine is the sound of Scorn live, which we will finally experience in Canada during the Lowest Of The Low tour. The slow, eerie, bottom-heavy tracks he performed while on tour in Italy last May feature a new spaciness from the dark guitar atmospherics and industrial sounds courtesy of Eraldo Bernocchi (aka Simm on Harris' Possible Records label, who's great dark hop full-length release will be reissued by Invisible). As a bonus, Whine features four versions of a studio track called "Beat," which Harris prepared as a backing track for a rapper. The collaboration didn't happen, and it's probably just as well, because his blinding dark grooves don't need any verbal interference on top.

    PS: Actually the rapper is Khalil, son of Umar Bin Hassan from the Last Poets, who was rapping when his kid was napping (to quote the legend). The plan is for Harris to record an album with Bill Laswell and Khalil in the fall.

    published in Canada, 1996

    Mick Harris: Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark-Ambient

    When Brian Eno first presented "ambient" music, the idea was to have uneventful background sound shaped for a particular environment. His first "ambient" statement was Music For Airports, four pieces made from long, staggered loops meant to overlap in large, echoey public spaces. Earlier in the century the French composer Erik Satie had a similar idea of background chamber pieces he termed "furniture music".

    Throughout the 80's industrial experimenters used this idea of an atmospheric music free from programmatic sequences, as a kind of sensory deprivation combating the over-stimulation of the consumer society. Rather than the womb-like escapism of "new age" music, industrial-ambient amplified the urban backdrop of unspecified angst, expressing this social paralysis with unresolved dissonance and decaying textures.

    One of industrial-ambient's 90's disciples is Mick Harris, who thrashed his way into the music scene as the drummer of grindcore units Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror. Now his various projects (including the rhythm-based Scorn and the ambient Lull) are oriented around brooding atmospheres made from loops that test Eno's perception that "repetition is a form of change".

    "I like Eno's "On Land" album," says Mick from his Birmingham, England studio,"and on the classic "Apollo" there are pieces that have influenced me. For sure I do like that idea of how slow sounds seem to stretch time. The re-creation of sounds that I am certainly hearing every day, is what I'm trying to put across sonically. I tape natural sounds, refrigerator sounds, air conditioning sounds and slow them down within the sampler. So Lull is capturing those type of sounds and processing them in a machine."

    A sense of stasis is increasingly shared by Harris' disparate productions, whether it's his collaborations with Old's James Plotkin or contributions to Bill Laswell's Divination (the latest being Distill). His Lull experiments have (un)eased their way into the post-rock sound of Scorn, as melody is deconstructed to point of the emergency sirens on menacing tracks like "Hush" or the radar bleeps of "Six Hours One Week".

    "Really the creation of Lull was down to all the years of being a big fan of David Lynch's Eraserhead film and noticing how that soundtrack works. The sounds he's using to put across the mood all made sense. "Radiator music" is how I labelled it."

    In heaven everything may be fine, but in Scorn's dystopia everything isn't. On 1994's Evanescence album (Earache) Harris darkly re-defined dub by inverting the bass-y metaphors of Rastafarianism's utopian vision. His track "Exodus" had little to do with following the footsteps of Bob Marley and more to do with the somnambulist pace of a zombie film. When Harris applied the ultra-slow Scorn vibe to the break beats of hip hop, on the Gyral CD, his record company lost the plot and recently dropped their option for the rest of his contract.

    "At last I'm off Earache, which is something I wanted for the past three and a half years. It's finally happened, but it's fucked things up because a North American tour with Test Dept was set up and had to be cancelled. No one at Earache in America knew what to do with Scorn. They were never into releasing 12 inchers, and if I've got some ideas I want to put a record out. There are people out there interested and I like putting out vinyl. So now I've started a label of my own, called Possible Records, which will be released through Plastichead distribution. I'm not sure of the future of Scorn, to be quite honest, as far as which labels I will work with. I basically need a label who will support me financially. I want to work with cool people, I'm fed up with being dicked around."

    Harris' current contract with Earache will produce one last CD release before the fall, Logghi Barogghi, where the dark trip hop direction of Gyral is promised to continue.

    "It's moving on again. It's stripped down even more than Gyral. It's a bit more funky than Gyral. It's a Scorn record, what can I say. I like to keep a minimal backbone that I can play around with certain echoes etc. It's all about creating space for me. Just a nice solid bassline and then loops, using them as sound effects. And I guess that's what I liked about what people called the "dark side" of jungle."

    Yes, it seems that his work with hip hop break beats and dubby basslines has come under the influence of the rhythms of jungle. His release of Scorn remixes, Ellipsis, featured a jungle version by PCM, who now DJs at Harris' live shows.

    "Yeah there's a few drum and bass things in the pipeline. There's a few people I've been collaborating with and it's rubbed off on me. "Dark jungle" is probably the jungle that influences me the most. For me it's more about atmospheres. There is a certain amount of programming that works for me, but I don't want to go too crazy at the computer. There are certain things I like about the computer, and then other things I like to do on the mixing board."

    Lately Harris has been offered production work, having just recorded an album with the German industrial-rock band Sielwolf for KK, and even a Birmingham rap group for his own label.

    "I haven't got time to be just a producer, I just want to work on something I've got a feeling for. This hip hop act is 9 rappers called Asylum. Scorn is not "dark hop" compared to this! They were basically some guys who stormed my studio one day, when they were visiting a rap promotion office in this building. About six or seven of them came through the door while I was working on a track on Gyral and said "Woah, what the fuck's going on here?" They were all nodding their heads and calling it "dark hop". So they said: "When you've got time can you put together some beats for us?" It was a lot of hard work recording nine voices and a scratcher! I'm going to release it, there's a 12" inch, "The 9 Dwarves" ready to go out in October. Basically Possible Records will be break beat-oriented sounds, whether they're slow or fast, I don't really care. The first release will be my new drum and bass project, Quoit, then Gyral, and a single out in July/August. Also coming out is a Scorn 4 track EP, a two track PCM single, then a double pack and a PCM album/CD. And Plotkin is going to do something for me. There is even a couple of Sielwolf mixes I would like to release if KK doesn't use them."

    Other upcoming releases to feel the dark touch of Mick Harris will be Lull's "Continue" (on Release, who will also feature a new Lull track on their compilation "Release Your Mind"), the L'Inacheve CD on Sub Rosa (drum and bass released under his own name and previewed on the Underwood compilation), the "Collapse" CD done with James Plotkin (Asphodel), a soundtrack to a French film, a remix for Scanner's Trawl alter ego and new music from Italy's Sigillum S. If you're not afraid of the dark take a listen.

    Scorn page at Invisible

    1996 interview

    1997 interview