I recently heard someone describe the burgeoning “noise rock” explosion as everything that was ever pretentious and pompous about the hardcore scene fully realized in its own genre. I wouldn’t go to that extent, but the statement has some merit. In its debut full-length, Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Air Conditioning does a decent job of incorporating just enough musicality to the mix of almost-tribal beats and rhythms; overdriven, distorted-to-shit bass; and weird vocal effects to break into the realm of near-listenable.
I have some bones to pick with the recording quality (despite how raw and gain-y and abrasive the band wants it, the sound needs more low end in order to make it sound unlike bad radio reception), but the album has something that’s hard to grasp during the first listen. The first three or four minutes of Weakness — a forty-minute album broken into three songs, one of which is less than a minute — are the most difficult, but by the fifth minute something happens: You’re no longer fighting to keep listening. Shrill shrieks meld into borderline-disturbing bass lines, and the drumming becomes almost hypnotic — rhythms die out only to sneak up again fully reformed.
Whenever something is abstract enough to be called “noise rock,” the main focus is to get you thinking. On Weakness, Air Conditioning crawls inside your mind and asks a few important questions about what you can handle and what you cannot.