Cruel Nature Cassette Reviews February 2023 – One Key Magic – Katie Gerardine O’Neill – Austin Cash – HALALCHEMISTS – Ddrome

Cruel Nature Recordings are a Northumberland based DIY label specialising in limited edition cassettes for eclectic tastes. They release new tapes and downloads every week, this is the latest batch. These go from music recorded and influenced by the Fylingdales on the edge of the North York Moors to unsettling drones and music to very dark Americana, manipulated live noise performances and a drone led drummer’s second solo release.

One Key Magic

One Key Magic

Cruel Nature

We used to camp in North Yorkshire when we were kids, on the edge of the moors. Dad would drive up into the heather and we would explore the stone crosses. The dips and furrows and paddle in the streams. Play for hours outside pubs as Mum and Dad sat inside. One of the most striking sights on the moors was man made, the giant golf ball structures that Dad explained were the Fylingdales, an early warning system for nuclear attack. We were young but at that point in time everyone knew about nuclear war. We all knew we were going to perish in one and it wasn’t just a matter of if, it was a matter of when. When I was older we walked the Lyke Wake walk across the moors and had to skirt the perimeter of the installation. It was immense. 

This music then, sounds that come from that place, is tied to my childhood and teenage memories and as such means an awful lot to me. The place was bad enough when it was functional, it was alien and strange, lurking on the edge of the purple heather. Now that the golf balls are gone and it’s just the crumbling cement foundations of the site left I don’t want to think about what ghosts haunt the shadowed spaces.

The music drones and speculates as it finds hidden corners and lost rooms. Added sounds of guitar and electronics focus your mind towards them but underneath the spirits of the moors are circling. I mean, it’s good that such a place doesn’t exist anymore. A constant reminder of a death by fire. But on the other hand, could such a place that provides inspiration for something this beautiful not have contained a little goodness somewhere deep inside.

Katie Gerardine O’Neill

Into The Beyond

Cruel Nature

This is an emotionally charged album, although you’re not always sure what emotions are being triggered or reflected at any one time. It’s built over the top of drones, they rise and fall, rumble like broken radios and throb like cables caught in a storm. They worry and grind at the edges of your brain and let in the other sounds through the tears they cause. The other sounds range from a violin, acoustic guitar, beats and echoes. Rumbles in the darkness and enormous swathes of head rushing synths. There’s a broken torch singer hidden deep inside these sounds, singing on and on in a low lovely voice in darkness. Sometimes swallowed by the music and sometimes whispering in a room just too far away to escape into the sound. It’s a challenging album but it’s an effort that leads to immense reward.

Austin Cash


Cruel Nature

Look, really, this is Americana, it says so there on the Bandcamp page. I know it’s built on drones and feels so creepy you keep glancing over your shoulder but it’s definitely Americana. It’s split into three tracks and at about half way through the second twenty seven minutes long piece you realise that the drone has dropped away and you are listening to something else possibly a guitar but possibly the sound of the lights going out, everywhere. It then switches slowly and incredibly subtly to a beautiful rising and falling and a conversation over the top, it is both peaceful and calm. But then… you knew I was going to say that didn’t you, well, it’s back to tiny unsettling noises over a light static drone with hidden sounds that emerge as a violin, then guitar and a distorted chorus of voices that slide over you soothing the pain and hurt. The last track is delicate and cold. melting slowly away into the mist.

 Recorded over a period of months in a room with a chair and a lamp this both generates so much unease that a fly landing next to you would make you jump and makes you feel relaxed and almost asleep.



Cruel Nature

This is noise formed and layered with drones and static. It’s two performances in Newcastle manipulated by Halalchemists both by them and The New Blockaders. Both tracks are over ten minutes and both have no music, just sound and are absorbing and all encompassing as only a noise performance can be.


Power City

Cruel Nature

Jamie Davis is the drummer with Dublin improv group Zeropunkt. This is his second album as DDrome. These tracks are the melding of drones of fluctuating sound with Jamie’s drumming worked into the sound. It’s ethereal and wide open sound make it refreshingly different to my ears and works excellently.

Cruel Nature Records has a Bandcamp page, are on Instagram, Facebook and Tweet as @cruel nature.

All words by Adrian Bloxham

Adrian Bloxham

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