Vital Cause – Zero Sum Game

7.27.21 by Jacob DeRaadt

“Zero Sum Game” is the first offering from the trio of Eddie Giles (Final Solution), Jay Howard (Circuit Wound), and John Grimaldi (Submersive Productions). The three have done some work together under the name Run for Omniphobia, though I’m not familiar with that output.

Side A has some toxic radio waves bubbling out from darkened drain pipes in a nightmarish realm of suffocating filth. There are some moments where electronics start evoking an acoustic industrial sounds like engines idling, washing machines in slow motion, cars on a bridge, puddles splashing in muddled rhythm… The title track, “Zero Sum Game,”  is an exercise in anti-musical drone, leaving me feeling trapped in a large concrete room full of malfunctioning vacuums unravelling dusty rugs through some searing fuzz effects. It’s machinery without a human presence. I like how there’s different tracks on here and not just one long jam session, concise editing of what I’m assuming was a mail collaboration.

Side B dives further into a mechanical, grinding world of unknown machinery. Hints of synthesizer churning out withered pulses provide the backdrop for some reverb’d feedback accents, almost post-mortem in feel. This is not high energy harsh noise. It is thoroughly corroded ear filth. I love the nasty hum that comes in and out of the mix halfway through the side. It reminds me of “Hole in the Heart” by Ramleh. Truly ominous without being overtly cinematic or rhythm oriented.Out of this maelstrom, we’re dropped into the center of a finely tuned wind tunnel where the fans oscillate at different pitches and speeds, simultaneously moments of tonal harmony and dissonance fused into a rising mass.