A View From Nihil/TFT Split (C70, Phage Tapes)

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A lengthy cassette from two harsh noise wall-ists, this split comes with a simple tape design of gray, standard text, a black background, and four green horizontal lines running through the middle of the j-card. Flip the card over andyou’ll find even more polarizing green stripes. It’s a simplistic setup and one that works well to compliment the mindset and stylistics of the harsh noise wall genre, and like the green lines, which seem neverending, the 35 minute slabs on this split seem to play on ad infinitum.

A View From Nihil starts out “Tesla” with some really crackly static, what one could compare to either a roaring fire popping and crackling from a distance or the jolt and hum of some highly-charged electricity. The latter would refer to the title of the piece, and AVFN does create a track themed around the exploits of the eponymous scientist. The crackling builds in volume, taking on a larger mass and enveloping the listener in its pop and crunch, as if the track will continue to expand and blow the eardrums of the audience. But it does halt its progress, continuing on in the same vein for quite a long time in an enjoyable and creative form of static noise. One can note slight shifts in the sound, but the overall thematic form of the track (the popping and spitting of the static) remains. A delightful bass rumble kicks in somewhere between the five to ten minute mark, upping the ante even more – and that somewhat defines “Tesla,” a track that continues to build from the stark sound of the opening to a large and open-ended wall. Somewhere in the middle of the wall, the static kicks out for a deep, monotonous rumble, an interesting and warranted change for the piece; however, it feels like it runs a bit too long, losing the scope of the build from the opening. When the shudders of static slowly make their way back into the rumbles, it’s a welcome release from the bass trap. There’s a welcome wind-down to some stripped-down static, which holds the wall in check with an ode back to the opening salvo, a refreshing, churning surge of electricity again hearkening to Nikolai Tesla. It is here where I find the most interest in the track, as the surge shifts and tenderizes my ears, and then shudders back into a heady wall of bass.

TFT’s untitled track starts with only rumbling bass, which buzzes and judders on its own, sometimes bursting into rhythmic flatlines as the rumble blows out. Very nicely pounding, the track is almost contrary to “Tesla,” as A View From Nihil was more interested in the static crunching of the wall rather than the mountainous bass. At some points, TFT includes short loops of bass, which make for an interesting and surprising change in the sound of the track; then, TFT jumps right back into the blown-out bass again. It’s easy to get lost in the flatlines (the only term I can think of to describe them), as the track continues to shrug off predictability for random rhythmic changes while keeping the same texture. To bring an end to the track, the bass rumbles stutter and chug, eventually losing all steam and cutting out entirely. An enjoyable and enduring track for sure, but listeners who find unchanging, lengthy walls tedious will not enjoy this track.

The split, though, is heavy and filled with stamina, as each piece breaks the 30-minute mark with ease for a lengthy helping of harsh noise walls. Both tracks are of the same mindset – to break the listener, to isolate, and to deliver an unending mound of callous sound.

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