Alois Richter – Untitled (CD-R, Slow Death Records)

Alois Richter is one-half of the HNW project The Sandman Wears a Mask, and a friend of Slow Death Records labelhead Ghost. In an interview with Roger Batty at Musique Machine, Ghost mentions that Richter has “never pushed to get anything of his released,” and goes on to say that Richter was coerced into helping with The Sandman Wears a Mask. But on Richter’s solo work Untitled, we get to see a blend of interesting harsh noise walls that really showcase Richter’s offering to that previous group.

Four tracks here make up about an hour of walls; each track runs for give or take twenty minutes (except track three, which clocks in around ten minutes). Slow Death provides the release with the signature red-tinged artwork of a stoical voodoo statue, with no information on artist, title, or songs included. The packaging is both lavish in design and devoid of any personal touch, perfect for the forthcoming walls.

The first track is twenty minutes of hissing static, paired with a rolling bass pattern behind it that creates a sort of electronic whir. The bass is nicely nuanced, providing a lot of subtle transitions to note behind the mostly unchanging static. Like most of the Slow Death Records releases, Alois Richter focuses on textures that are both rigid in structure but also seem endlessly changing because of the variability of the pairing of sounds. “Untitled” one does so with its bass, which tends to shift and judder even when it’s apparent this is not the case.

“Untitled” two has a unique sound to it, of a very shimmery crumble with a fuzz of static lightly misting the track with a digital noise that sounds somewhat like scraping Styrofoam together. Compared to the previous track, this is a little more reserved, and if you think of the noises in the wall as arcing rays of sound, there’s no sound that sticks out moreso than the others, and instead they collude with a really compact wall of crumbling bass. This simple wall might be stretched a little thin at the twenty minute mark, as it doesn’t have the same tantalizing effect as the other walls on the disc, but Richter’s fuzzy wall is oddly fascinating all the same.

The third track finds Richter moving to a different kind of sound, a ten minute piece that takes the minimal wall of the second track and drops it down a few more notches. A very sparse sound of static patterings are coupled with bassy strikes, as though someone is smacking a wall that echoes. One can get lost in this simple sound following the bass strikes; however, I was starting to get fed up with the sound until Richter ended it with perfect timing. This is certainly a track that can’t continue in an extended wall like the others on this disc, but Alois Richter senses this and moves on just as the listener feels like they can’t take any more.

An excellent transition with a surprising blast of guitar-warped noise and bass end this disc, with a very harsh sound of spiraling whirls of noise. There’s some static blast in the background, but for the most part this is a whirling dervish of bass and noise. The central tone of the higher-pitched noise tends to fluctuate and that’s where the spin of “Untitled” four comes in, but subtle expulsions of static tones also bring the listener a taste of non-harsh noise wall material.

Untitled is an impressive release from Alois Richter, and it sets him apart from his counterpart Ghost in The Sandman Wears a Mask. Original walls combine with more standard sounds on this lengthy disc, and here’s hoping that Slow Death can coerce Richter into releasing more of his material.

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