Black Matter Phantasm – Spiritual Retreat to the Holy Mountain (C80, Hallucination Tapes)

ambient noise wall, harsh noise wall, Review

Black Matter Phantasm is a harsh noise wall project from Joseph Szymkowiak from France, and though I haven’t reviewed many of his releases on this site, he is a notable artist in the noise subgenre. He’s amassed a number of releases over the years, both with Black Matter Phantasm and with his other aliases, and now he’s returned with a lengthy tape on Hallucination Tapes, a new label from Julien Skrobek. Spiritual Retreat to the Holy Mountain is an 80-minute release broken into two forty minute sides, and this is a heavy dose of more ambient-based noise walls.

The first “Untitled” track finds Black Matter Phantasm working with a few juddering textures. In the background is a fairly consistent blaring drone, and this pattern occasionally works its way to the forefront of the wall as the texture envelopes those around it. It’s one of the most consistently changing textures throughout this work, giving this track a lot of movement even when it’s not truly changing. Likewise, there’s a rumbling texture that carries “Untitled” throughout, not noticeably changing but just stoically plodding away to give bass to the wall. There’s also a very light static texture that crackles minutely, giving “Untitled” its secondary variations – the static shifts ever so slightly, ebbing and flowing as the drone overtakes it. Otherwise, though, Black Matter Phantasm remains locked in the same stylistic wall for the full 40 minutes.

The second “Untitled” track is presented on the white side of this zebra-colored black-and-white cassette, and this one is somewhat similar to the first although the texturing is not quite as heavy or overbearing. The background of this wall features a blown-out wall that’s not quite a bassy rumble; it’s more like standing a distance away from a plane’s jet engine, hearing all of the sound without the vibration. It’s quite nice to get lost in, and you can hear subtle variation in its sound by listening closely. At the forefront of the wall is a similar static texture to the first track except this one’s even more minute, a thin layer of crackle that is spaced apart in a way that emphasizes the delicacy of the texture. Again, this one sticks quite stolidly to its sound for the forty minutes, with subtle change within the wall but nothing immediately apparent.

This is a great release from Black Matter Phantasm and Hallucination Tapes that emphasizes the ambient nature of the project’s walls. I’m particularly partial to Side B’s wall, with a very intense attention to minute details. With this tape clocking in at 80 minutes, listeners will certainly get their money’s worth of wall from a master carpenter.

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