Aaron Dilloway - Biography



In short, Aaron Dilloway is a lynchpin in the New Noise Underground and the New Cassette Underground. He runs the record shop and label, Hanson Records, originally out of Brighton, MI, then Ann Arbor, now Oberlin, OH. He is best known as a member of the ensemble Wolf Eyes. And then… things get murky. Whether that’s by choice or default is subject to debate. Noise music — that’s an oxmoron. Noise? Recorded noise? Sound art? Post-electro-acoustic, sine-wave manipulation? Aural extremism? Anyway, it’s a subculture that adheres to a certain aesthetic, and a certain credo. It’s DIY taken to the nth degree, then drop-kicked out of the field of play. It’s also worth noting that before there was a New Cassette Underground there was an Old Cassette Underground, and there’s a pernicious Old Noise Underground that won’t seem to go away. But let’s not quibble. Besides, it’s too loud in here to argue. And how exactly did this Wolf Eyes stuff get on SubPop?

Wolf Eyes was essentially Nate Young’s solo project in the late 1990s. A friend of Young’s, Dilloway began releasing Wolf Eyes’ material on Hanson Records, and soon enough, he was in the band as a multi-instrumentalist. In traditional terms, that would imply that he was technically dexterous on a variety of instruments; in this context, it means he indiscriminately brutalized a variety of instruments, objects, appliances, and anything else from which a wounded yelp could be coaxed. Thanks in part to Dilloway’s contributions, Wolf Eyes are sonically indebted to everyone from Negative Approach to Whitehouse to Merzbow to King Tubby. Or is that King Diamond? Anyway, subscribing to the New Noise credo — Record, Record, Record — Wolf Eyes, went beyond the call of duty by recording not only on tape; they have over a hundred releases in their discography, splayed across a variety of formats, including CDRs, LPs, and lathe-cut LPs.

By 2003, Dilloway’s own limited-edition discography was starting to sprawl, including appearances with Chicago wunderkind Kevin Drumm, John Olsen and Nate Young, and Dead Machines. Meanwhile Wolf Eyes were going big-time, signing for a series of releases with SubPop, starting with Burned Mind (2004 Sub Pop). Fair enough; Wolf Eyes certainly qualify as Grunge. “Stabbed in the Face” sets the tone, as hardcore cracked electronics throb rhythmically and vie with distorto-shriek vocals for white-noise supremacy. Sure, it wasn’t going to fool any of the geezers who were around for Factrix, but most of those guys are in nursing homes anyways. For the kids, Dilloway and Wolf Eyes were their portal into deafening realms of patch-cord esoterica.

In 2005, Dilloway left the band and followed his girlfriend to Nepal for a year, where he wasted no time getting to work. Beggar Master (2005 Hanson Records) is comprised of field recordings made in Kathmandu, hammered on anvils of feedback and tape skronk. Another item from Dilloway’s time in Nepal is Chain Shot (2005 Hanson Records), a collaboration with Greh Holger from Hive Mind. Dilloway takes Holger’s organ-based drones and expertly adds grimy touches of tape manipulation (it’s worth seeking out for the exquisite silk-screened vinyl). In 2006, Dilloway undertook and even more strident pairing with Burning Star Core’s C. Spencer Yeh. The Squid (2006 Hanson Records), is a surprisingly nuanced affair, one of Dilloway’s most subtle to date. Yeh plays his trademark violin, while Dilloway turns knobs, stretches tape, and adds instrumentation. The results are — gasp — downright psychedelic. Dilloway also gets boatloads of credit for keeping his ears open while in Nepal. Nath Family: Sounds of the Indian Snake Charmer (2007 Hanson Records) is self explanatory, but it’s also a really engaging chunk of curbside vérité.

Ultimately, what Aaron Dilloway and the new guard of noise cassette enthusiasts share with the old-school dudes (think: Ron Lassard, RRR Records, et cetera), is an unwavering insistence in complete quality control, and a leap-into-the-void mentality that has more in common with the mindset of European free improvisation that it does with the staid rigors of industrial music, and the original purveyors of noise. Dilloway has hundreds of records in his discography, but many are accessible from Hanson, so noiseniks, consider a pilgrimage to the shop — or at least send an S.A.S.E. to the label. After all, Thurston Moore claims that he only listens to cassettes these days. “Meet the New Boss…”

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