For quite some time I have scavenged sites like ebay and discogs just looking at releases I would like to own. It was just recently when I finally felt that I had the money and the possibility to actualize my dream of owning some of these releases and so I settled on two Grunt lp's. Buying items second-hand on internet is always quite a sketchy business but as my luck would have it, I received the vinyls swiftly after my initial payment and they both came in great condition. Some stains and scratches on the vinyls but those did not cause any clicks or pops when played. On this review I focus on one of the vinyls, "Last Grip to Sanity", which was first released as cd-r in 2003 and re-released in 2005 as vinyl.
The packaging for the 'Last Grip to Sanity' is quite elaborate one. Aspa has decided to eschew the traditional presentation of a vinyl. The cover is simply black with a round hole cut in to the front from which one can see the insert which works as the cover artwork. The vinyl is held in a traditional jacket inside the covers. On the vinyl itself the side A is marked with a marker along with the number of the copy and the total number of copies. It is extremely pleasing to see something different being done with the covers and artwork, especially as it looks as good at it does and fits the record itself.
On the record every sound is clearly distuingshable from each other while the production is still rough and fairly lo-fi. While the music was recorded live without audience onto an analogue tape it doesn't suffer from being blown out into a constant wall of distortion. Instead one can hear the dynamics of the songs.
The atmosphere of the music is dark, raw and honest. It never feels to be recorded just because, but that it exists for a reason. Side A is more noisy affair with almost constant synth drones and metal banging going on. It never falls into an indistinguishable mess or into a so called 'heavy wall of noise' which is usually something that causes only listener-fatique and offers very little enjoyment. While the pieces aren't rhythmic or melodic in the slightest there is a sense of composition throughout, even if the composition is a bit lacking. The songs also feel somewhat unfocused and hollow. There is little to no atmosphere or feeling of mental anguish, something I expect from a record on the subject of the matter.
Side B is more droning and dark ambientish offering with a single synthline following most of the side. The mood is even darker than on side A and feels more claustrophobic and personal. For some reason side B brings to my mind images of cramped, long, badly lit brick corridors where you cannot see into the end. While the side is more atmospheric it's minimalism requires almost constant attention and isn't as suited for casual listening as side A.
As a somekind of bottomline I would say that while the material presented here is good, especially on normal power electronics standards, it is nowhere near the best of Grunt. While this might be relevant to fans who want to hear and own everything from the artist, I cannot recommend this to those who are either new or casual listeners of Grunt. While it has good atmosphere it feels somewhat unfocused and hollow.