Mannequins – False Smiles False Lives (C32, Worthless Recordings)

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Mannequins’ artwork for False Smiles False Lives looks a lot like something that Wolf Eyes or Aaron Dilloway would have for their layout, and so it’s easy to expect some drone freak-out akin to that style of rhythmic noise. Instead, False Smiles False Lives dwells within the horrors of harsh noise wall, two side-long tracks of static surges that never remain rooted and instead oscillate within their defined borders.

The first cut offers up some mid-paced walls with mid-pitched static, nothing too out of the ordinary or unheard of. The static often remains chunky and shuddering, and the multiple layerings twist in and out, often churning back and forth before switching to different tones. Somewhere along the middle the static changes from the initial mid-paced shudder to a deeper, more reverberated noise, often a sonic associated with jet planes taking off and landing. I enjoy the shifts within layers, that Mannequin finds a groove but doesn’t lock things down. But the change in sound happens a bit too fast, and it would have been nice to stick with the first bit of static a little longer.

Over on side two is another thick wall, a little bit more jarring than the other side with a nice bit of bass underneath a juddering layer of higher static. The static often feels barely held together, like it will fall apart at just the turn of a knob; it’s that crunchy sound that makes harsh noise wall so hypnotic, and Mannequins is able to capture a wall that, when listened to closely, also retains a bit of background echo that sounds like a synth drone. There are small changes in texture, like a quick cut-out in the middle of the track for crackly static lines, but overall this piece from Mannequins is rather unchanging.

False Smiles False Lives is a nice entry point in the genre for Mannequins, with two raging tracks ranging from shifting harsh noise to mostly rigid harsh noise walls. The tape is well worth a listen, and I’m definitely waiting to hear Mannequins in the near future as some of the stuff on here reminds of Werewolf Jerusalem and other Ramirez-related output.

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