Welby – Faceless (3″ CD-R, Pigdurt Productions)

One short and one long track on this 3″ CD-R from Welby, a harsh noise artist from Texas. The release comes in a small plastic sleeve with printed artwork, a wrap-around portrait of five blurry blue doll-like figures who all lack faces, as the name suggests. Though the printing is a little difficult to read because of the background color, the tracks are titled “Faceless” and “Nameless,” effectively setting the listener up for an isolating experience.

The lengthy track “Faceless” is a bundle of harsh noises tied together, alternating between grumbling masses of bass and escalating into screams of electronics that amp up the pitch and then drop back down again into swirling fits of windy gusts. There’s a lot to like on this track, from the high-pitched feedback shards that sometimes take forefront to the blown-out screeches of noise that sound like human yelps. Crispy bass static will pepper the sound until more feedback laces the sound with arsenic. But it’s the ending of the track that really captures my interest – with so many high feedback-oriented noise releases, the electronic wails and whistling change the direction of the piece and grab my attention.

“Nameless,” at four minutes, starts out with a screaming spasm of sound, a chaos squall that incorporates vocal samples and music before the track cuts out only 11 seconds in. The rest of the three minutes is complete silence, a very awkward choice for the cut and one that left me wondering whether if the CD-R was ripped impromperly. However, I was assured that the long silence was intentional. Unfortunately, I don’t really see the merit in the short track; the opening really caught me off guard, as it was a different sound from “Faceless,” but the very short length and unnecessary continuation of the track was off-putting.

Though Faceless features some quality noise, especially on the title track’s finale, I couldn’t help but find the feedback manipulations slightly generic in scope. “Nameless” helped to dispel that idea at first, but with the track lasting a mere 11 seconds, the effect was minimal at best, and so Faceless tends to blend in with many other harsh noise releases.

Edit: After seeing my review of Faceless, Mark of Welby sent me a message explaining the mistake of the short track “Nameless.” He granted me access to the full four-minute version of the track, and I thought I’d add an updated review of it here. I’ll leave the CD-R review of “Nameless” up as well, as it’s an accurate description of what you’ll get on the release, but here’s a look at the version that was meant to be heard.

The full track continues the same squall of higher-pitched noise in the first 11 seconds, with pitch manipulations that make the track fluctuate all over the place in sound. The track has a really great grinding pulse to it, and there’s a lot going on: a loop of a soft hum in the background along with the heavily-cranked noises in the forefront, highly malleable with different noises on both sides of the balance. The end of the track kicks into a crunchy bass rumble along with a patter of squealing sounds, sometimes interspersed with heavily distorted sound samples. Just as I thought from the 11 seconds I heard of this track on the CD-R, “Nameless” grabs my attention moreso than “Faceless” because of its original sound and chaotic changes.

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