Toxic Toys Zone – Atropine (MP3, 17 Sons Records)

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Toxic Toys Zone is a noise moniker that has released much of their output on the now-defunct 17 Sons online record label. Atropine, their third downloadable release, is billed as four tracks of wall-like harsh noise with subtle variations. I hate to be nit-picky, but I would only minimally classify Atropine as wallish; it has walls of sound, but they are nothing like harsh noise walls – instead, they take on more drone-like qualities, often ambiently moving through shifts of sound while maintaining an ethereal quality.

The first track “Narcosis” features a lengthy drone of shimmering electronica, subtle lines of reverb-like static, and small shifts in sound throughout the 11 minute track. The synth tones tend to weave in and out, and the buzzy static often pulsates, finding footing and then backing out again. It’s a good drone, and while it does have moments of wallish tendencies, it’s more of a soothing piece to listen to, easy to zone out with. I quite like the reverberation of sounds, how they blend together – it’s texturally a rich piece.

It’s followed up by “Syncope,” one of the weakest tracks on this album, which combines an annoyingly grating feedback buzz with slow chord progressions. This one’s mastered at a higher volume than the others, too; but what might have been a very harsh track is beleaguered by the boring pace of its movement.

“Sedation” is another of those longish drones, similar to “Narcosis” with its shimmering synth background but also surprisingly flexible with the very low-volumed static that runs underneath. Like its title, this track is another excellent piece of hypnotizing work from Toxic Toys Zone, an ambient wall that works well because of its atmosphere and regard to subtle dynamism.

We end with “Micturition,” more akin to a HNW piece with a background swelling of mid-pitch feedback, slow static warbles, and a very light texturing of dispersed electronics. It’s minimal and slow-moving, but it’s well worth the ten minutes it takes to get from beginning to end. The way the droning of the feedback guides the static is masterful. If one enjoys harsh noise walls or ambient noise walls, this is the track to flip to.

Atropine is extremely promising, a nice blend of the grey area between drone and harsh noise wall. These aren’t exactly tracks that will scour you with sound, but they’re illusory enough to suck the listener in. The turn towards minimalism in “Micturition” hints at finesse froom Toxic Toys Zone, but “Syncope” proves that this artist can also create more chaotic spurts of noise.

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