House of Bats is the project of Andreas Brandal and Robert Meldrum; both often do their own harsh noise projects themed around horror and eerie soundscapes, but together they offer up four tracks of moody and atmospheric harsh noise that effectively fits the gothic artwork of the self-titled tape’s artwork. Each track runs around 10 minutes for a collective 40 minutes of spooky haunted house sounds.
“For the Flies” starts out with what sounds like the aftermath of a broken tape deck, the distorted sounds of a very whirring and bent tape trying to play whatever it can from its audio. Along with it is the hum and drone of electronics, slowly paving the way for a chance encounter with a denizen of the night. The second track on the A-side, “The Forest Edge”, continues the churning textures with a somewhat bland track; it doesn’t have the creepy sounds of “For the Flies,” and the subsequent track “The House of Bats” is a significantly better cut.
That track is, for me, the focal point of this collaboration between Brandal and Meldrum. If side A is set up for moody atmosphere, “The House of Bats” swoops in for jarring effect. It’s got the distorted tape destruction, lingering tones of high-pitched loops, and a heavy bass rumble akin to the harsh noise walls that both artists delve into with their solo projects. A static crumble plays lightly over the top – there’s nothing too overly harsh about the track itself, but the feeling that it evokes is disturbing and tense. Final track “Tunneling” offers a similarly laid-back bass-driven tone, wind-swept and equally suspenseful with a sustained synth tone.
Overall, House of Bats is an excellent release full of foreboding textures, each nicely nuanced without a lot of heavy electronics or feedback. It’s a tape that most horror aficionados could even get behind without grimacing from the noisiness of it all – accessible and still gothic.