Various Artists – Short Noise Wall (CD-R/MP3, Social Drift)

short noise wall

Short noise walls are a bit unconventional. Generally speaking, walls are often unmoving, massive, and long, a mesmerizing affair meant to leave the listener in a trance that continues until the wall stops. Short walls can be just as effective, however, and they don’t necessarily need to be an hour long to generate the same effect. On this compilation, nineteen artists offer up their idea of what a short wall can be. Here, I will give a brief review and synopsis of each track, treating them as their own separate release.

“The Lawn Mower”, Social Drift – Crumbling wall of distorted static, fairly unmoving with mostly just static coils and little bass to center the wall. There’s a sound underneath it all, a humming that makes the track a little more hypnotic. The swirls of feedback dispersed among the track don’t do much besides break up the texturing.

“The Burning Time”, Thewhitehorse – A nice, laid-back fuzz tone of crackling static that seems to battle between right and left balance at all times, along with a background droning texture that pairs very nicely. It’s not an overwhelming track in any sense, serene and lulling.

“Cicadas Bursting Out of a Rotting Testicle”, Aedeagus – A less dense sound from this artist, one that focuses on a repetitive distorted loop of crackling static. The drone effect remains in the background of this wall as the static takes center stage. Overall not an immersive sound because of its lack of multiple textures.

“Immersion,” Brutalest – Rollicking but quieter bass is the backend in this track, and up front is a swiftly moving static trickle that features just the hint of feedback within, a squeaking sound that only appears occasionally. The din of a sustained drone in the background captures most of the listener’s interest around the halfway mark.

“Unsettling Images”, The Man With the Icy Eyes – A very dulled texture, barely a line of deeper static that opens up about a minute in to give me the sense of an amp being distilled through a bongo drum. It sounds like the patter of rain on a jug, and despite the simple texturing, gives a trance-like effect throughout the short run.

“Worms Inside Me”, Carrion Black Pit – An ambient noise wall that takes a muffled bass texture and pairs with a crackling bass-like crunch. It feels as though this track was done underwater, capturing the sound of waves and creatures as they launch through the sea. It lasts a little too long, though.

“Orion”, Raven – Raven hits with a white-washing effect after the quiet “Worms Inside Me.” There’s a semblance here of a rhythm – the track occasionally has quick pops in the wall, but for the most part the track is a searing blend of unending static and a very quiet rumble underneath. Though it’s heavy, it’s not a particularly memorable wall.

“It’s Bleedin’ Damp”, Distant Trains – A droning texture of distorted synth is morphed into a wall here – the synth sound is still present, but it’s also combined with a very low static crunch that forms the majority of the wall theme. This track’s quiet nature is unimposing to the listener.

“Frank O’Collins RIR-111124”, Authority – Another somewhat ambient wall with a squeaky crackle of static. It’s similar to Brutalest’s sound except this time the squeak is a huge factor in the wall – along with it is a deeper static staccato that serves as a bass line for the track. Hypnotic and appealing all around, and the squeak adds an aggressive texture.

“Pest”, Nundata – Blown-out textures are the name of the game here, with a fuzzy background mixing with the forefront of the wall’s sparse crackle. It’s a fairly traditional wall compared to some of the others on this release, but it breaks up the ambient tracks with a dose of harshness.

“The Absolute Flaw of I”, Wayne Mason – A very short track of echoing buzz tones, some sizzling crackles, and various sound effects, “The Absolute Flaw of I” very rarely feels like a wall track at all. It’s not bad for harsh noise, but it is the most unrelated track on this compilation.

“You Can See Where the Nail Went In! Ouch!”, Bonehole – Ambient static crackles are overshadowed by a single tone of high-pitched feedback. It’s a good thing this track’s only a minute long.

“Prise En Charge”, Ecoute La Merde – An interesting drone oscillates between high and low pitches, accompanied by a buzzy fizzy static texture. It’s a bit too wavering for my taste, and also feels too focused on random knob changes.

“Nothing But Teeth,” Inanition – This track basically sounds like a distorted sample of a subway train in a tunnel running on the rails – in short, a successful harsh wall. It starts out soft and then slowly expands to incorporate an open, hollow texture. Then it does it again. It’s one of the longest tracks on the release, but it holds the listener’s attention just the same.

“Noise Bleed”, GDMHZ80YRZO – A distorted static crackle low in the mix sounds like a vocal sample gone wrong, and around it spirals an echoing drone loop. Interesting use of texture makes this a successful, if loosely categorized, wall.

“Untitled”, Striations – A half-minute burst of a standard wall takes “short” to the extreme. A good but uneventful offering.

“Nackig übern Rügendamm”, To-Bo – A vibrating track of buzzing static with a rhythmic loop underneath it. Fairly static throughout, but could have used a bit of fluctuation within the wall.

“The Lake of Fire Pt. 1”, FASX – An amalgamation of feedback, harsh electronics manipulation, and gobbledygook along with a narrative of Revelation 20:10. Again, I wouldn’t consider it a wall of sorts, and it also feels more focused on featuring the biblical reading rather than its noise.

“Withering Root”, Faker – A loud blast of rumbling bass, searing higher-pitched static, and a feedback wail to deliver an all-consuming ending to the compilation. Despite the harshness of the feedback, it’s a rather pleasing listen, especially focusing on the center of the wall where the bass and static combine.

Short Noise Wall is widely varied, and that’s an interesting concept in itself because of the multiple artists who contributed. The release feels front-loaded, though, as some of the later tracks don’t fit as well in the noise wall territory. Still, this free compilation is worth a listen because of experiment alone – some tracks work, others don’t, but the wide variety of ideas here is refreshing.

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