This mammoth four-disc collection from Richard Ramirez’s high signal feedback project Crash At Every Speed is intentionally demanding. Each disc features on harsh noise wall at nearly an hour in length, and Head On Collision is a tour de force of high-pitched static wails. Ramirez is known for his excellent textures from around forty different projects, but this release is significantly different from the output I’ve heard from him.
The first disc, simply titled “Crash Victim 1”, features a very thin line of high-pitched static that sounds produced from a very whiny tape deck. The whole track is based around this “wall,” though to call it that is a little bit of a misstep since the feedback never overtakes the listener. It simply lingers, a headache-inducing static whir that features a slightly pronounced bit of bass along with it. The whole thing never technically changes, but it does seem to loop. In the background, one can find and outlying sound of a couple of whirs (again giving the impression that this is a badly damaged tape deck) and a surge in the static towards the end of the loop where Crash At Every Speed seems to lighten the high-pitched sounds for a more encompassing wall.
The second disc, “Crash Victim 2”, is a similar high-pitched track. In the front of the wall is a searing line of static that goes on and on throughout the 48 minute runtime, never ceasing. Behind it is a whispy layer of static, and then in the background there’s a crunchy, more bass-driven static that drives the wall – it’s the only real significant feeling of change in the track, constantly shifting around although even that seems to loop continuously. It’s a fantastically hypnotizing wall.
“Crash Victim 3” is the longest of this set at just over an hour, and this time it features two different textures. For about 50 minutes, the track spits crackles of high-signal static, a low-volumed swirl that nonetheless is quite painful to the ears. Along with that, in the forefront of the wall, are pops of bass static (as though quick bursts of sound from a poorly tuned radio) that alternate between left and right side of the balance. It’s mesmerizing for a while, but the 50 minutes lasts a bit too long. For the last ten minutes, Crash At Every Speed changes the texture to a low hissing that feels like an odd choice here, since the other tracks rarely switch so suddenly.
Lastly, we have “Crash Victim 4” and the fourth disc of Head On Collision. Like the others, it features a long-running track at just over the 50 minute mark with a very piercing feedback tone at the forefront and random crumbles of static throughout. Crash At Every Speed doesn’t let up throughout; around the last ten minutes, the track shifts into a quieter mode that still features random bursts of static, but for the most part, this is a super-harsh track for its long haul.
Overall I’d say that Head On Collision is an important experiment in Crash At Every Speed’s discography, but it often stretches its tracks too far. Most of these could be cut down to the 30 minute mark easily, and unless one really enjoys lengthy walls, they might not make it all the way through these discs.