While I confess that I’m not the most well-versed reviewer when it comes to dance/electronica music, I will say that I find Faster Detail’s Phase Lock to be my new entry point into those subgenres. Faster Detail is the project of producer Alex Chesney, also of Gam Spun. On Phase Lock, the first and last tracks of this C52 tend towards harsh noise with electronic manipulations of sound, the “Phase” and “Lock” of the title, while the rest of both sides include bass-heavy beat-laden dance music with tons of modulations, distorted vocal samples, and a bevy of catchy samples.
The beats really don’t stop after the wallop of “Phase,” with Faster Detail sticking to a mid-fast tempo throughout with similar but often slightly varied drum tracks. Vocal manipulations and clear sound samples are interspersed throughout, with the artist often mixing in genre ideas like dubstep drops, drum ‘n bass rhythms, and even some breakcore into the mix. All of these combine to make for a swift-moving and immensely danceable record.
It’s even appreciated when Faster Detail slows things down a bit like on the digi-pop “Slug Windows,” hitting some downright emotional tones along with its video game-like beeps and boops.
Overall, Phase Lock is an intriguing listen, a catchy and fast-paced dance album sandwiched between two harsher electronic tracks. Check it out on No Rent Records’ Bandcamp page and have a dance-off.
The first thing that you’ll notice about Tetrad Veil’s debut (only?) cassette Solar Sequence is that its font is nearly inscrutable. Seriously, I first did some research to see if I was simply bad at reading or if the writing was in Cyrillic. Alas, no it was not – I happened to figure out that the label was Involition, and then from there I got the rest of my information. So the thing that stood out most popping this tape in was that Tetrad Veil wanted to make it as hard as possible for me to actually figure out their name and title.
Yet maybe that’s the point, because after the opening sounds of “DWR” begin I was hooked on the death ambient ritualistic tones that Tetrad Veil were putting forth. Though one might expect low production values from this blackened tape, the noises here are actually fully formed and unhallowed. The group offers up ten-or-so minute excursions into electronic darkness, with rhythmic looping bass and very atmospheric patterns.
Over top of it all is the echoing screeches of Tetrad Veil’s vocalist, set back far enough to not be obstructive but harrowing enough to reach into the soul. The lofi nature of those screams work really well just above the churning bleakness of the electronics.
Solar Sequence shows good variety here, and Tetrad Veil are loosely stepping around subgenres like martial industrial, black metal, power electronics, and death industrial to create a very compelling sound that is also strangely catchy. “Wake the Dormant” on the second side features deep bass tones and a ringing tone along with chanted vocals that help induce heavy trance states.
The tape is a great release from Tetrad Veil, both disturbing and hypnotic. The simple looping rhythms don’t stray far from their initial patterns but Solar Sequence manages to be a tight listen all the way through. You can still check out this release on their Bandcamp page.
I confess I’m probably not the intended audience for this release from Trou and Rotkappchen, which seemingly has references that I don’t quite understand due to its French connection. This quick C10 titled Miss Bolbec features a series of bulldozers on its cover and yet its actual content seems taken from the 2014 Miss Bolbec pageant. What we get are a series of short bursts of noise and tracks full of French speaking directly from that pageant. What they say, I can’t surmise – I did take some French but not enough to understand these tracks unfortunately.
However, both Trou and Rottkappchen give about 3 minutes of full noise blasts that are akin to harsh noise wall. Trou’s is a raucous stuttering affair that I like quite a bit, with enough bass shuddering to keep it interesting even through the found sound pauses.
Rottkapchen’s track is an uncut five minutes that features a young girl singing until a static blast of harsh noise wall cuts in overtop of an audience’s clapping. Short and to the point, it’s a solid piece of work that is quite the opposite of HNW’s routine.
While I don’t quite understand the intent of Miss Bolbec, the two really quick noise cuts are quite good though they’re not expanded on. For French listeners, this tape might reveal something more than what’s apparent to my strictly English ears.
It’s really hard to find any information about Church Slut, and searching Google is best done at your own risk for this specific phrase. However, I do know that Church Slut is Brian Harvey of Earthmover Records and I’ve reviewed another release of his in the past (the Church Slut/Naked Pyramid split). What we get on this C45 is two sides from the project, split into seven tracks without much space or discernment between each segment.
The first side starts out with a lot of looping with “Tiny Tim’s Lucid Dream,” an atmospheric ambient track that sees a vocal sample cut up and stretched out along with rhythmic dreamy noise in the background. As Cubicles Are Bad For Your Health moves along, it runs the gamut between near harsh noise walls with heavy static to power electronics with Harvey providing shouted, muffled vocals over churning maelstroms of noise. Later tracks again retain some of the looping effects like an electronic klaxon sound set to harsh noise blasts and megaphone-amplified screams.
This is a pretty good tape from Church Slut, though I will say that some of the tracks – specifically the last, “A Cascade of Failures,” run a little long without having enough dynamism to keep them memorable. For fans of harsh noise and power electronics, this is an interesting tape to check out – if you can find it.
I confess that it has taken me a while to review the things I was sent in the past, including many Ciel Bleu et Petits Oiseaux tapes. So when I popped Fosse’s Le Traître Magnétique into my player I did not realize that it was yet another project of Julien Skrobek, one that looks to have had limited use over the past few years. This C90, but a single-sided 40 minutes, was released in 2015, and it features four tracks of fairly traditional harsh noise walls from the prolific artist.
Each are cut into neat 10 minute lengths, making for easy starts and stops to these walls. The first is “Les Tarifs du Bourreau,” one that at first seemed to be an incredibly simple texture with a very condensed line of static. But listening closer, one reveals some dynamics at play in this wall: there’s a rollicking bass tone rumbling in the back, and the up-front, trebly static licks away throughout the track, rarely changing but always churning slowly.
“La Rose et l’Ordre” transitions smoothly, keeping a similar bass tone but changing the static line to something a bit more prominent and crackly. The bass background seems to morph into more of a drone without dips or pops, but the static takes full center-stage. These crackles make for mesmerizing listening. “Géométrie Mitterrandienne” drops the overwhelming static crackles for a much more subdued and less voluminous static line, allowing a similar bass backdrop more room with a mid-to-fast-rumble. This one is one of my favorites on the release, minimal but crackling. Finally, “Le Plan du Temple, Tracé Par Dieu Lui-Même” rounds out this tape with a gyrating, in-your-face static line and a menacing bass line behind it that reminds me of a muffled metal band somewhere in the distance. The static is penetrative and extremely rough, making for a nice harsh listen, and it occasionally seems to get even more crunchy at times.
Overall this is a nice experiment from Skrobek with Fosse; his usually more long-form walls have been truncated to 10-minute affairs that, across a single-sided tape, blend in with each other to form a longer wall full of variation. Definitely check this tape out if you come across it.
Tetsuo is yet another project from prolific noise artist Julien Skrobek, in addition to many of his other harsh noise wall monikers. On Eternal Respect, Skrobek experiments less with overwhelming wall textures than with subtle static tones accompanied by familiar electronic outputs: a white noise generator, a sine wave generator, and a drum machine.
The three cuts that make up this 37-minute release all feature an interesting dynamic – chiefly, the way that Tetsuo locks into a specific groove, using the drum beats and sine loops as focal points in the wall with the white noise mixed quite low. This forces the listener to actively engage with the track, to listen “through” the elements to get to that nugget of static.
Still, the opener “Access” remains a difficult listen for another reason – it’s got an ever-present sine feedback tone that becomes quite piercing over its runtime. “Levels” is similar but the grating tone is pared back a bit, with a different type of drum track that sounds like a 2D side-scrolling video game. I would argue that Eternal Respect‘s only misstep is that “Access” and final track “Eternal Respect” are a bit too similar, with the same type of composition and subtle changes to the tones. But Eternal Respect is a considerably compelling release circumventing the usual harsh noise wall standard. This won’t appeal to everyone, but Tetsuo certainly invites the listener to actively engage in this minimal work.
Rainy Tritium 1 is the first part in a series of releases from the insanely prolific K2. I’m a little behind on his discography, but since Rainy Tritium 1‘s release in 2017 he’s gone on to release 32 new albums, some of them releases of old works; that kind of output is hard to keep up with. However, Oxen’s release of Rainy Tritium 1 does seem like an appropriate place to pick up on K2’s new output; this three track album finds the harsh noise artist migrating away from his cut-up sound to a much more droning and almost rhythmic approach to noise, incorporating whole synth melodies into his soundscapes.
Each track runs on average 20 minutes, give or take a couple. The ideas at play on Rainy Tritium 1 range from synth-based warbles and siren sounds to a recurring rhythmic motif that, while the same in composition, differs in the actual pitch and timbre each time it makes its way to the forefront of K2’s triple threat.
But those worried K2 has lost some intensity in his transition to less in-your-face chaos should rest assured that Rainy Tritium 1 is still a dizzying listen, just in a different way; instead of lambasting listeners with constant texture switches, K2 allows those ideas to linger, and this is some of his best work that I’ve heard. It’s still loud and abrasive, but with a rhythmic, ambient side that showcases K2’s dexterity.
Maussade is a project of NSN’s owner putting out harsh noise and harsh noise wall projects; various releases were or are still available, the most recent being in 2016 as far as I can tell. Trouver La Paix, a C55 from 2011, sees the artist performing the latter.
A punishing wall of static sound, this just-under-30 minute track (included on both sides) features searing bass tones and staccato swirls of crunchy textures, with the inclusion of a screechy feedback/trainhorn sound that I find seems to cut through the central area of the soundscape. Lots of background bass, foreground crackles, and that aforementioned pitched tone that continually ebbs and flows. This is a great track from Maussade that sounds quite full, and the nice thing about Trouver La Paix is that the listener can simply flip the tape to continue the onslaught.
Unsustainable Social Condition has been reviewed here before, so you know the drill: harsh noise bordering on power electronics project from Matt Purse, often supremely devastating. He returns with another release of two tracks for Phage Tapes on Pleasure Seeking Pacifists, offering about 17 minutes of electronics debasement.
The first side is “Many Were Terrified of Their Saviors,” a pummeling track that in many ways resembles a wall of harsh noise as electronic static and bass elements abrasively destroy the viewer’s ears. In the background is modulation that at times resembles yelling or screaming, a fluctuation that adds a lot of nuance to the otherwise stoic track. It’s a heavy and deafening experience.
On Side B we have the title track “Pleasure Seeking Pacifists,” which again borders on harsh noise wall territory with a heavy bass rumble and some intermittent alterations in a trickling static element at the forefront – this almost seems like radio chatter or like someone repeatedly messing with the dial. It’s a lot more dynamic that “Many Were Terrified of Their Saviors” about halfway through the bass rumbles become more pervasive, the static swirls more consistent.
Pleasure Seeking Pacifists is another great offering from Unsustainable Social Condition, short but abrasive enough for all harsh noise fans. And you’re in luck: it’s still available on Phage Tapes.
Pig Shrapnel is the harsh noise wall project of Joe Stache(less), also the owner of Hair On My Food Tapes & Records and Busey Teeth CDr. He’s been making all kinds of noise for years under different names (Hoggle, Extreme Chafing), but on Boar’d to Death he returns to something of a strange obsession – pig stuff. Everything on this disc is a pig pun or reference except maybe the walls themselves, and it’s always interesting to see what new pig reference the project can come up with next.
This disc features three walls over about forty minutes, each track lasting around the same length of time plus or minus a couple minutes. First wall is titled “Boarn Angry,” which features a bombastic, fast-paced bass judder underneath a crackling mid-toned static churning. The track remains relatively the same throughout except for what seems like a minor change to the wall minutes in, and Pig Shrapnel keeps the listener locked in the groove with a nice crunchy static texture.
The dynamic remains fairly similar as the wall transitions into “I Am the Ultimate Omnivore,” which seems to keep the rigid bass shudder in the background for more nuanced static. There’s an exterior sheet of static that is unmoving, just a slight hissing that adds one extra texture. Also found in the mix is more of that oscillating crackling static, though it’s somewhat softer than the first track with more controlled movement.
Again, track three – “Severely Lacerated by Razor Sharp Tusks,” a title that explains much of the CD-R artwork – moves seamlessly into place from the second track, continuing that bass-driven backdrop while removing the less-voluminous static for sharp, crackling, staccato textures. It’s also a stoic track, only punctuated by the random alterations of the static and bass and relatively unchanged throughout besides a few tweaks to the front maelstrom of static to make it a bit thicker.
Interestingly, Boar’d to Death is so interconnected that it could be a 40-minute track in itself, with three areas of change. Pig Shrapnel keeps that bass locked in a groove to make the transitions, and it’s an element that I like about this release – there’s a clear definition why the three tracks are on this release rather than another, giving it a defining quality that listeners should appreciate. This is a solid CD-R offering from Pig Shrapnel, and harsh noise wall fans will enjoy the onslaught of pig-related sonic textures.