This collaboration between Francisco Meirino (f.k.a. Phroq) and Bob Bellerue—and especially the first track, "Lausanne, 2006"—is required headphone listening. As "Brut" is a noise record through and through, that might be obvious, but not just any headphones quite make the experience. I tried listening to the disc on both regular speakers as well as open-ended cans, and it sounded like what you'd expect from a noise record with lots of drones, nerve-tickling static, acoustic-electronic textures, etc. In this genre, it's easy to catch yourself getting lost trying to figure out what computers/tapes/instruments are actually producing what's being heard, which is a challenge unless you see the performance or it's noted somewhere in the production credits (this CD-r is vague in this regard). But what Meirino and Bellerue accomplish here transcends the sum of its various components, essentially dismissing the question altogether. More interesting is how the duo make use of stereo space, so if you can, find some noise-canceling earbuds, and plug this thing in as close to your brain as possible for maximum effect.
At first blush, "Lausanne, 2006" (Meirino's re-edit of a Bellerue composition), might come off as a little boring, consisting of a limited palate of sounds that wallow slowly and build over time. But a closer listen reveals the piece as a stunning example of two channels, left and right, performing together in concert—likely an element added with Meirino's mixing in post. The track consistently causes my head to actually cock at an angle as the left ear sounds concave with sunken effects that dip into billowing depths with low, ominous grumbles, almost pushing inward. The right channel, meanwhile, concentrates higher frequencies to oppositely pull out as a grouping of tones slowly cluster in a discordant mess, gradually picking up volume and intensity before the clamorous climax of a finish. The track's production helps transform what might be a more simply constructed noise composition into a physically intensive mind-fuck of a listen.
"Brooklyn, 2009" (Bellerue's re-edit of Meirino's track) is a much more sonically balanced and direct effort. It's also a much busier work, claustrophobic at times, hiccupping with screeching tones that dive-bomb in and out of the folds, even incorporating brief flashes of open space. Unlike its predecessor, "Brooklyn" is more nervous and unsettled, never satisfied with a solid mix and constantly fluctuating. The piece works itself into a terrifying roar at its apex with a disturbing, demonic-sounding vocal that bobs its ugly head from the underworld in desperation, the whole effect of which is reminiscent of digital hell-raiser Kevin Drumm.
This feels like a classic pairing of two composers at the height of their creative abilities, showcasing unique but aligned sensibilities through a trading-off of performance and production roles. Though it’s fairly clear that Meirino shines a little more brightly (mixing-wise on the first cut, performance-wise on the second), "Brut" as a whole is an economically devised CD-r that, at its relatively short length (25 minutes total run-time), is a surprisingly easy thing to enjoy with repeated spins, especially so for a noise record. Just enough to get your teeth grinding, never too much to risk losing a filling over. 9/10 -- Crawford Philleo (4 August, 2010)