Small Hours is the experimental harsh noise wall project of James Killick, often known to have strong themes running throughout the project’s works. Rhapsody in Wall is a harsh noise wall framed by George Gershwin’s classical piece “Rhapsody in Blue,” featuring the actual score of that music that is centered around a wall that pulsates throughout.
The thirty minute wall begins with simply the classical “Rhapsody in Blue,” a piece that is in itself timeless and unchanged despite many variations of orchestra. The violins, piano, and strings continue unchanged until a couple of minutes, where a swiftly moving bass tone along with a slight crackle of static begins to mar the otherwise beautiful composition. Minutes later, as the bass begins to take center stage overtop of the other instruments, “Rhasody in Blue” fades out to become a raging cacophony of static wall, first characterized by the bass and then expanded to involve a sticky static tone.
Small Hours ensures that the wall moves quite thoroughly throughout its movement; swells of static, rhythmic bursts, all come and go without a hitch. After a chaos of wall, Small Hours turns the volume down – although for me, a bit too early – before the rest of “Rhapsody in Blue” returns to conclude the piece.
Killick’s motif is interesting but ultimately somewhat unclear. Is it that noise and music are consistently jockeying for position, that there is not one without the other? Or is it that harsh noise walls can eclipse the classical score, but only for a moment before the noise is ousted? It’s not defined. Nor is it necessary, however; Small Hours allows the listener to put meaning to this wonderfully nuanced release, making it more personal even in the wall’s distance.