Skullcaster – Cognitive Infiltration (C32, Ratskin Records)

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Harsh noise is often cut-up and glitchy, but Skullcaster takes it to another level with the two tracks on Cognitive Infiltration – these are jumpy, chaotic, and often more digital-sounding than analog. This C32 tape features two 16 minute tracks across both sides, with the A-track a bit more caustic than the B-side.

Both tracks are untitled, and they’re relatively similar in terms of content – bleeps, bloops, whirrs, all rather glitched-out and sampled in different areas of the tracks. Side A is certainly a harsher track, although the sounds Skullcaster creates aren’t technically difficult to listen to. Their edges seem rounded, if you will – they’re not sharp blasts of noise, but they’re still confrontational all the same.

The thing is, Cognitive Infiltration never hits the same areas twice, although both tracks seem corralled into an overall theme. The sounds are all over the place, and that’s a good thing – you’re not going to hear Skullcaster reiterate the same sounds, or at least not in the same ways. There are certain samples that stick, others that don’t, but that’s the way it is with the hectic harsh noise of Skullcaster and you either like it or you don’t.

The second side is slightly less noisy, with a focus on controlled bursts and blasts. There are moments of relative calm, only to be tainted by heavy hits of sound. Both tracks work well, and at the medium length 16-minute mark, you don’t have to spend a lot of time getting into murkier territory.

Cognitive Infiltration is worth a pick-up if you like harsh noise, and occasionally Skullcaster reminds of Merzbow in his digital era – unrelenting noise swirled with all sorts of samples.

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