The thing about Trustable is that you can’t trust it. And for the listener, that’s a really rewarding experience. Trustable is another moniker used by Bryan Tholl (most notably of HNW project IS), and this cassette is part of a series of releases and live performances by Tholl exploring various sides of his noise output. On Trustable, Tholl manipulates and challenges the listener by incorporating various sounds, a la a sort of mysterious collage, that limit and define the expectations of the audience – and then he dashes those expectations with the unexpected movement to new ideas, a hypocritical action that defines trustable as being inevitably distrustable.
The first side begins with some faint buzzing and static, very low in the mix and it blends in as part of tape fuzz at the opening. This carries on for a little while, and obviously the listener is perplexed by the low volume and proceeds to turn it up. But the fuzz slowly oscillates and builds in volume. with waves of feedback and rumbles getting steadily louder until Trustable hits a more normal register of sound. It almost sounds like a tune-up, and just as we think the track will explode into sound, it cuts out for a low sample of orchestral tuning before a concert. The use of this sample is jarring at first, but it makes sense when one considers the type of tuning Trustable just did with his electronics. The sample goes on a bit too long for my liking, as its purpose is already evident and it could have been cut down a tad. But the surprise onslaught of the wall that we get after the sample cuts out is fantastic, a deadly surge that holds steady for only a little while before continually shifting.
Side B begins with a sample from a French movie, and of course I don’t speak fluent French so I don’t know what it’s saying. But it’s coupled with some atmospheric sounds in the background which gives it a nicely disturbing tint, and even if you can’t decipher the meaning of the words, it sounds dark. Quickly we are pummeled by a wall which surges with an electrical current underneath, occasionally hitting upper sound registers as the wall screams into feedback. After the wall we move into very distorted guitar and screams, and it sounds like an incredibly out-of-tune, downtuned sludge or doom metal band being played through heavy distortion. This doesn’t hold, and we move into a juttering static with a tinny tone atop it. Another excellent wall, and it’s interesting how many shifts of sound Trustable moves through on just this side of the tape. This all patters away into a hovering low sound that oscillates and pulses at a very low volume, and then a brief outdoor sound sample. This is right before a very surprising unitone drone of buzz kicks in that may or may not scare the shit out of you, and the unwavering tenacity of the slightly annoying pitch becomes a force that leads us back to those French words and the final sample.
Side B is the more active listen of the two, and so may appeal to more listeners than the extended sound collage on Side A. But both harbor the theme of unexpected twists and turns in the sound, and the trust that comes from the artist moniker is slowly broken and rebuilt in time. And if you compare the subtleties and trustworthiness of the HNW and Tholl’s other projects, Trustable is so desirable because it breaks through those barriers into territory that is unexpected and surprising.