Birchville Cat Motel is one of the names that Kiwi musician Campbell Kneale operates under. Kneale is apparently a busy guy, with a number of projects going on at once, including Ming and his most recent, Our Love Will Destroy The World. He is also one of four members of New Zealand-based drone doom band, Black Boned Angel. Birchville Cat Motel is his primary stage name, under which he has released the majority of his music.

In the true tradition of other noise musicians, Kneale has kept up an astounding rate of output, and Birchville Cat Motel has nearly 40 full-length albums to its name. It's probably typical of noise artists to create so much because of the ethos of the pseudo-genre. Noise is about texture rather than rhythm or melody, and if a certain set of sounds appeal to an artist as something that could be explored and toyed with for an hour, then there's an album. I'm simplifying it, but that's the noise scene in a nutshell. Actual compositions can be (and usually are) much more complex, but the point is they don't have to be. Keeping that in mind, it's not hard to see how Kneale could end up with so many albums in less than 12 years and maintain a high quality of work throughout.

Birchville Cat Motel's album titles look like someone ran amok on a Mad Libs book, but they aren't as abstract as they appear. The wallpaper designs that he uses for cover art are similarly misleading, seeming to say "this is meant to be in the background, it means nothing". The 2003 album Summer's Seething Pulse really does sound like summer. There is a high whine throughout the second track that never fails to throw me back into my suburban backyard, as a child playing who knows what game in the 30°C heat, hearing the nearby power tools of unseen neighbours as they wailed. Summer's Seething Pulse has chirping insect sounds as well, though it's a far cry from one of those New Age "Sounds of the Forest" CDs they sell in pharmacies and tribal art shops.

Noise can come in many degrees of structure. On one end of the spectrum is the pure sound variety, where rhythm does not exist. The listener just considers the details of what they are hearing, without a feeling of motion or progress. On the other end is simply regular music, the pop and rock that everyone is familiar with, which can include elements of noise. Noise rock has been popular for decades because of Sonic Youth and continues to thrive today, thanks to the Rhode Island scene that spawned Lightning Bolt, Arab on Radar and Black Dice. Birchville Cat Motel isn't noise rock by any means, but there is the occasional surprise drum beat that appears, or perhaps a series of unobtrusive guitar chords, to make the music more listener-friendly. Because of these tendencies and the lack of harsh or unpleasant sounds, it can serve as a good introduction to noise music.


Birchville Cat Motel (1997)
untitled (Birchville Cat Motel/Eso Steel) (1998)
Siberian Earth Curve (1998)
Galleries 4-6 (Doe/Eso Steel/Birchville Cat Motel) (1999)
Lion of Eight Thousand Generations (1999)
Blankangelspace (2000)
Cranes Are Sleeping (2000)
Shapeshifter (2000)
Swarming Tamagotchi Plague (2001)
Jewelled Wings (2001)
We Count These Prayers... (2001)
Birchville Cat Motel vs. The Ecstacy Trio (2002)
Creeping Frost Onset (2002)
Crop Circle Empires (2002)
September (2002)
Vespertine (2002)
White Ground Elder (2002)
Zenkoji (2002)
split: Assholes of the World Unite and Hunt in Packs (Guilty Connector/Birchville Cat Motel) (2003)
Copenhagen (2003)
Home (2003)
Mighty Spine Catcher (2003)
Summer's Seething Pulse (2003)
Beautiful Speck Triumph (2004)
Chi Vampires (2004)
Nurse (2004)
With Maples Ablaze (2004)
30th December 2004 (with Lee Ranaldo) (2005)
Firepower Fragrant Cloud (2005)
Curved Surface Destroyer (2006)
Our Love Will Destroy the World (2006)
split: Birchville Cat Motel/Opaque (2006)
Cold Snow Fairy Forest (2006)
Her Anger Is Limitless (2006)
Birds Call Home Their Dead (2007)
Astro Catastrophes (2007)
Seventh Ruined Hex (2007)
Gunpowder Temple of Heaven (2008)
Four Freckle Constellation (2008)


Screamformelongbeach (2003)
Stellar Collapse (2005)
Bees & Wasps (2006)
Bird Sister Blasphemy (2007)

His work has been released by a number of indie labels on both CD and CD-R, and is probably impossible to find without ordering it directly or visiting the merch table at one of his shows. His most popular albums are Siberian Earth Curve, Beautiful Speck Triumphant, Chi Vampires, and Our Love Will Destroy the World, though popular is a relative term; "Birchville Cat Motel" isn't exactly a household name. Among noise enthusiasts however, quite a few people know about Kneale and his projects, and his music can be found online if you know where to look.

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