Zaft 015   CAT / Stolen Light   Split

Track Listing:

  1. CAT: A Journey Backstage
    a. Keep a Weather Eye
    b. We Wants the Redhead
    c. Remain in your Bobsled
  2. Stolen Light: I Take the Midnight Subway Train

CAT is best known as Ben Arp, the man behind the amazing label Crunch Pod Media. His music is like no other. The best comparison that can be given is Autechre meets Throbbing Gristle. If you like noisy, beat driven music, then CAT will definitely appeal to you. Stolen Light supplies the harsh wall of noise that he is known for. This track is an experiment in repetition and is almost soothing. Bonus points if you can figure out the hidden super secret sound sources on each track.

Here's what Nicolas at Recycle Your Ears had to say:

This CDR is the first release in a series founded by Zaftig Research and based on a simple but efficient concept: two or three bands are asked to provide long tracks for split CDR, released under a very simple packaging and limited to 50 copies. No need to say the participating acts come mostly from the rising, bubbling and incestuous young North Californian noise scene I'm currently so fond of. So, let's examinate this first offering of the series. Cat (the band of Crunch Pod Media's mainman Ben Arp, recently renamed C/A/T) plays a track that lasts almost half an hour and is divided into three distinct parts. Compared to the other, much shorter, songs I know from this project, "A journey backstage" is weirder and less straight-forward. The heavy, lo-fi beats that seems to be this band's sigil are still present, but other elements, like much more complex drum patterns, some background synthetic tunes, or samples, are added. All in all, this is very long for a rhythmic track, but Cat manages not to bore the listener, its track evolving fast. Maybe not as efficient as this band's participation to "Infinity Paradox" or "Battery Sentinel 2", but still enjoyable, most of all the "remain in your bobsled" part). The second participant to this first split CDR is Stolen Light (aka Brett Lunceford, Zaftig head researcher). His track is a dense, intense and very repetitive huge wall of noise stretched over exactly 30 minutes. This track is just a monstrous and ultra noisy sounds repeated all over while some samples are played in the background. I wasn't expecting this from this act, but a lot of power electronics acts (think Slogun or Genocide Organ) might very well ask Stolen Light to contribute to their music with such a wall of noise. In contrast, it doesn't have vocals at all, and so lacks the aggressivity of normal power electronics. But this is almost palpable noise. Not absolutely satisfactory "music"-wise, but quite a tour de force. Small item and tracks that are rather good and fit very well the style these bands represent, this first split CDR is a good way to start with an interesting series of releases. Let's see what the other ones bring.

Here's what Ben Didier at Grinding Into Emptiness had to say:

This disc is the first installment in a series of straightforward split releases from Zaftig Research, through which Zaftig head, Brett Lunceford, under the umbrella of his two projects, Stolen Light (his fierce noise outlet) and Goose (the milder alter ego), takes on a variety of noisy collaborators. Limited to 50 copies a piece, with basic formulaic cover art, these CD-Rs are designed to let the noise speak for itself. CAT opens up the dialogue with the three part "Journey Backstage," a half-hour of percussive, noisy, sample based experimentation. The solo project of Crunch Pod Media founder Ben Arp, CAT has been around for a couple years now, primarily sharpening his sound on a variety of compilation appearances. The samples used here are entertaining, and sound like they're mainly drawn from television and movie sources. Basic programmed rhythms provide the floor boards for the track, somewhat mixed up and manipulated but for the most part pounding away with repetitive determination. Some melodic interludes break up the beats, but a layer of crude sampling remains a constant throughout. Stolen Light continues with "I Take the Midnight Subway Train," a dense, concrete excursion into the entirely textural, static infused realm of pure white noise. To the average listener this will sound like a 30 minute recording of the coarse audio detritus of an untuned radio station, fragments of surrounding stations barely audible below the suffocating sheets of noise. Comparing this to past Stolen Light material, I consider it pretty bland. There's a lot of it, but not much to it.

Here's a review from PTR at Re:mote Induction:

This is the first of Zaftig Research's split series featuring two bands with about a half hour of sound each. First is CAT, which is Ben Arp of Crunch Pod Media and he offers A Journey Backstage. Which is followed by I Take The Midnight Subway Home by Zaftig's label owner Brett Lunceford's noise project Stolen Light. Like each of the releases in this series to date this release is limited to a run of 50 CD-Rs and comes with the consistent minimal art style.

A Journey Backstage starts with a chunky grind and squeal ensemble - short sounds building towards a constant loop. Thudding bass punctuated by dull thumps mark this loop. Within it other sounds build so that this becomes layered. A banjo perhaps picks out a slow melody, while a group of monkeys voices some concern. Words can be heard amongst solid triggered beats and light streaks. In some ways one gets the impressions that CAT has constructed a collection of traditional pieces - found himself to be bored with them and decided to find out what happens when they are played at once. Rhythms play with beats, that mix with electronics and the flow of layers continues. At times the layers will strip away, allowing the emphasis of certain elements - normally with an incongruous effect - fairground organ, marching band, cartoon antics. Percussive influence like all the elements seem to keep shifting - from clattering noise to jerking techno potential - at all times part of the whole. With the amount going on this will appeal to those that find high density material attractive - especially as CAT keeps the whole controlled where it would be so easy to let the whole become a mess.

Contrasting the constant shift of CAT, Stolen Light's piece gives much more the impression of a solid stream. I Take The Midnight Subway Home is a roaring strip of rushing sound, which with the title suggests standing in a claustrophobic tunnel as a long and rapidly moving train goes hurtling past. This is noise, the suggested tight space emphasizing the sheer intensity of sound. While there is the impression on casual listen that this is a solid sound, one soon senses the fluctuations and textures. Tight layers all heading in the same direction provide a sense of depth, the gaps and differences between the layers creating the shifts, which we become immersed in. The sound surrounds, becoming your environment - something you are most conscious of when listening to on headphones, but is certainly not limited to that. When conclusion brings silence it is something you are very aware of!