Europe’s most fortified border lies in North Africa. Separating the contested autonomous city Melilla from Morocco, the Spanish imposed border fence, with it’s motion sensors and watchtowers, has, along with the Calais Jungle, come to symbolise the human catastrophe and moral failure that is the migration crisis. When the fair comes to town every September, unaccompanied minors try to stow away in the disassembled attractions, hoping to escape in the cover of night. They call it ‘making risky’.
Harrga (meaning ‘a burn’ in the Darija tongue) comprises of Bristol sound artists Miguel Prado and Dali De Saint Paul from Nzʉmbe and EP/64 respectively. Initially conceived as a project free of any particular political agenda, the drama unfolding across the Mediterranean grew too great to ignore, and the need to pay tribute to ‘those who burn the borders’ and face hostility from the west which build walls and turn backs.
Héroïques Animaux de la Misère, the third release from cryptic sonic provocateurs Avon Terror Corps, takes a meditative yet visceral approach to the refugee plight with uncompromising soundscapes and collages, hearkening to the experimental roots of British industrial like Nurse With Wound or Throbbing Gristle. The cacophonous wail of human desperation that opens the album on ‘Melilla’ seizes your jugular, declaring it’s moral and political position with the forced witness of the claustrophobic horror of border repression. The volatility bleeds into second track ‘Artaud’, drums of war and metallic shards of dissonance scrape and grate against De Saint Paul’s vocal bile, reaching Anneliese Michel levels of inhuman seethe.
Sonic violence is interrupted with moments of eerie harmony. ‘Phone Recording’ is an impressive showcase of De Saint Paul’s commanding and powerful vocals, with Prado’s hypnotic keys giving an air of incantation, whereas ‘War’ briefly detours into the more cavernous and murky end of Autechre, merciless beats drill with pounding ferocity.
In a world growing coarser and pitiless, Harrga tell us with furious compassion that human life, liberty, and opportunity does indeed have value, and must be fought for. Héroïques Animaux de la Misère is a searing and defiant statement of solidarity and utmost humanity.