The Sandman Wears a Mask is a collaboration between Ghost and Alois Richter, two Slow Death label artists who craft their fear of sleep into harsh noise walls. On this release, six tracks of untitled walls feature field recordings shifted and sourced into static noise. Some sound more apparent than others, but the hour of walls on this disc are some of the most rewarding I’ve heard.
First is a windy track from the duo, which sounds sourced from various buffets of stormy winds. There’s a bass line of generic static crumbles that is punctuated with blasts of howling swirls that punch through the static at various and anti-rhythmic times. This track feels constantly changing, with each monstrous shriek of wind pointedly off-kilter and random. It’s a shorter length compared to some of the longer walls on the disc, but it’s one that hits the listener hard immediately.
Track two starts off with a fast-paced crunch of static, although the real draw of the track starts to kick in once the listener begins to hear the sputtering and spattering of a water-based bubble beneath the hardened static exterior. If the first track was wind, this one’s most certainly water, and the collusion of the boiling and the static makes for an intricate, textured listen. Again, The Sandman Wears a Mask are able to incorporate a sense of movement by using decidedly organic features of the wall’s sound.
A low end of static purrs out of the third cut, at first just a bit of white noise to juxtapose the earlier tracks’ intense connectability. Like the first, faint shards of rearing static can be heard underneath the main texture, although this one takes a more relaxed approach for its short track length. It’s somewhat fitting, too, that this comes in the middle of the disc; it’s a softer wall perfect for white noise, and it segues nicely into number four.
Four maintains the sort of pared back static of three, a sort of muffled rainstorm with the same sort of wind whipping back in and out of the pounding static. The source on this sounds deeper, with more rumble and less space between the crackles of static. In that sheet of rain-noise comes pulsations of sound from the depths, a monster’s roar or that of a jet engine cutting through the sky. As we see with most of the walls, the construction of the texture has a lot to do with sounds bubbling up from the depths, surprise visits from the sandman himself.
Untitled five picks up with some hi-fi, swiftly moving fuzz, not so much static anymore but an onslaught of flamethrower-like crunching that judders and dips along at a frenzied pace. Consistently changing in its approach, this almost resembles a harsh noise track with its clipping pace, and although it’s a fairly big change from the quadruple harsh noise walls of Untitled, the piece is finely honed and mammoth in its fuzz.
And then a fantastic transition to the last track, which picks up the sort of crunchy static wallers desire. Very standard in its approach, the final track brings the listener back to the roots of The Sandman Wears a Mask, where the sources aren’t as evident as the earlier tracks and the wall obliterates much of the background drama with an immense static eruption. There’s not a lot that tries to bubble up underneath this; instead, it’s a fairly straightforward wall that rages for almost twenty minutes. I’d argue that the length is a little too stretched here, giving far too great a value to the somewhat pedantic sound.
But this is a wonderful piece of work, with over an hour of high quality walls on display. Rich in textures and subtle undertones, but dense in its static underpinnings, The Sandman Wears a Mask effectively meld their sound sources with great walls, and like the last album on Slow Death, the artists are certainly invigorating the harsh noise wall genre.