I can’t find too much information about Bone Pillar. I know it’s a project from France, and I know as of right now this self-titled tape is about the only thing that has been released. This one comes from back in 2013; it’s a single-sided series of harsh noise walls, lasting about 25 minutes despite the much longer tape length. Three tracks make up the tape in total: “First Tower,” “Marble Gallery,” and “Of Bone and Pillar.”
The three tracks are bass-heavy rumbles. “First Tower” features a nice crunchy dynamic to it, a juddering static sound overtop of voluminous lower tones. It’s a nice short wall with minimal changes, but lots to focus on within.
“Marble Gallery” has a very similar setup – the same types of bass-driven tones – but this time it sounds as though this wall has been slowed down. We get a very reverb-laden element almost like the sound a helicopter’s rotors make chopping through wind. It’s quite hypnotic, but it doesn’t last long enough.
Lastly “Of Bone and Pillar” continues the bass onslaught, this time at a lurching rumble with a more continuous crackling effect that almost feels martial in its rhythms. This one tends to shift a bit as various elements come and go – sometimes leaving just the dark ambience of the bass tones.
Three solid harsh noise/ambient noise wall tracks for your enjoyment with a Castlevania slant.
Tetsuo is yet another project from prolific noise artist Julien Skrobek, in addition to many of his other harsh noise wall monikers. On Eternal Respect, Skrobek experiments less with overwhelming wall textures than with subtle static tones accompanied by familiar electronic outputs: a white noise generator, a sine wave generator, and a drum machine.
The three cuts that make up this 37-minute release all feature an interesting dynamic – chiefly, the way that Tetsuo locks into a specific groove, using the drum beats and sine loops as focal points in the wall with the white noise mixed quite low. This forces the listener to actively engage with the track, to listen “through” the elements to get to that nugget of static.
Still, the opener “Access” remains a difficult listen for another reason – it’s got an ever-present sine feedback tone that becomes quite piercing over its runtime. “Levels” is similar but the grating tone is pared back a bit, with a different type of drum track that sounds like a 2D side-scrolling video game. I would argue that Eternal Respect‘s only misstep is that “Access” and final track “Eternal Respect” are a bit too similar, with the same type of composition and subtle changes to the tones. But Eternal Respect is a considerably compelling release circumventing the usual harsh noise wall standard. This won’t appeal to everyone, but Tetsuo certainly invites the listener to actively engage in this minimal work.
Oscuro is an interesting wall noise project from Julien Skrobek, right now comprised of just two releases simply titled I and II. Both were released on the Textural Nightmares label, which, after four releases, now appears to be defunct. On I, Oscuro offers one stoic untitled track that clocks in just under twenty minutes.
“Untitled” is what many would call an ambient noise wall, comprised of an overwhelming airy tone at the forefront of the wall that is actually quite difficult to withstand for the 19:12 length of time. The tone is tough to describe, but for me it’s something akin to the blurry noise that a car window makes when opened slightly at high speeds. That is paired with low volume crackling static that is at times barely audible beneath the whirr, adding crunchy texture to this piece.
It’s interesting to hear how Oscuro manages to craft something so minute and also searing, a wall that doesn’t have much heft but also makes for a rather engaging and difficult listen. One complaint is that I wish the static crackle was just a tad bit louder, enough to overcome some of the droning whirlwind of the airy forefront of the wall. With its lower tone, it’s easy to miss the nuance in that droning, something that one has to focus intently on anyway.
Otherwise, Oscuro’s I is an interesting and quick listen, one solidly built ambient piece that showcases Oscuro’s more minimal approach to the craft while not overextending its welcome. Unless you managed to grab this when it released, it looks like you’re out of luck hearing it – it’s not even up on Julien Skrobek’s Bandcamp page (though Oscuro’s II is).
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.
Tales of the Bloody Bloody Killer is a project from Scott Kindberg, also the man behind the Petite Soles label, She Walks Crooked, and half of Ginger Cortes. The Six Six Sixers sound is primarily harsh noise wall, but its two tracks consist of so many shifts and transitions that the wall tendencies ebb and flow as the soundscape develops.
The first track is called “Fleischer Knife Co.”, and it’s the longer of the two tracks at around 18 minutes. TotBBK begins with a wall, blown-out and heavy with a lot of static crackle at the forefront with the hum of electronics in the background, and that continues well over five minutes before fading out to transition into the sound of sharpening knives. Truly, this is a disturbing interlude that is often difficult to listen to depending on how grating the sound of metal sliding across metal is to the individual listener; eventually, the knife-sharpening gains demented and warbly carnival music, with slide whistles and the whole nine yards. A wall begins yet again to end the track, this time extremely harsh with searing static blistering the listener.
“Fleischer Knife Co.” is an entertaining track, but structurally I find the use of the knife-sharpening in the middle of the wall somewhat thematically confusing. I’m not exactly sure why it was bookended by walls, and so I’m left wondering the significance of this choice.
The previous static leads directly into “Blackfire” with no warning, a fantastic transition that gets me every time I hear it – there’s nothing to indicate that this is a new track until the listener realizes that the harshness of “Fleischer Knife Co.”‘s ending has been replaced with a pleasant static crackle and subtle bass textures. This one’s more traditionally HNW (and, really, ANW), and it continues for about 7 minutes.
This is a short but expressive release from Tales from the Bloody Bloody Killer, and the two tracks offered here are quite enjoyable despite my own inability to decipher the context of the first cut.
The Killer Came from the Bronx is another project from Julien Skrobek featuring harsh noise walls that seem inspired by slasher/serial killer tropes. The project has a few releases under its belt including the more recent Ripper 1976 on Needle and Knife; Purgatoried Torso was released in 2014 on Skrobek’s own label Ink Runs Recordings.
This disc is similarly stylized to the other releases on Ink Runs as well as the early output of Skrobek’s older label Slow Death Records. It comes in a plastic sleeve with artwork resembling the skyscraper buildings of NYC, with an unmarked CD-R featuring two massive harsh noise walls that run about 45 minutes altogether.
The first track on this disc is “Kill Again,” the longer of the two at 25 minutes, and it features a solid bass line undertone that keeps a raging boil throughout the track. On top of that is a trembling static tone full of crackle and bass, a surging throughline that keeps the wall crumbling. At first this wall seems somewhat akin to an ambient din, but as the listener progresses through its full length, the static tone at the forefront becomes crushing and overwhelming, rarely changing explicitly but seemingly ebbing and flowing minutely. This is unique texturing that often feels enveloping.
But the second track, “Static on the Line,” is the real draw on Purgatoried Torso, a heavy cut that features a raging guitar-like tone with lots of distortion, looping over the twenty minutes of wall. The surge of this sound, like a heavy metal riff repeating over and over again, pairs well with a chaotic static texture, and both of them together create a cacophony that leaves the listener uncertain where to focus attention – in a good way. The wall feels like it is constantly going to fall apart, but it holds on for the full length.
Purgatoried Torso is a great release, and probably one of my favorites from Skrobek in recent memory. The two tracks are perfectly at odds with each other while remaining rooted in The Killer Came from the Bronx’s sound, and as an introduction to this project, it certainly makes me want to check out the other releases under the moniker. Maybe it’s the serial killer in me.
Yet another project in Julien Skrobek’s expanding ouvre, La Goccia D’Acqua is translated to The Drop of Water from Italian. On this release for his own Ink Runs Recordings, he’s influenced by Black Sabbath, the 1963 horror film starring Boris Karloff. On offer is a wall of nearly twenty minutes long that skirts the line between harsh noise wall and ambient noise wall.
The track first picks up with atmospheric sounds of movement in a house, then jumps into the wall territory with a few different textures. In the background is a quiet, unchallenged drone – not what I’d call a rumbling, but instead a steady whirr ambient whir that continues throughout the track. There’s also a slight hint of bass shuddering, but it’s quite distant and meant to be less noticeable. The static crackles in the forefront are the focus, a stream of alternating rhythms that pop like fire, or like heavy rainwater dripping from eaves onto a hard surface.
This is a fairly unchanging piece as well; if there are any alterations, it’s difficult to pick them out because they’re not pronounced. “Tradere” is a successful pairing of both styles of wall noise, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly where it fits in; the crackling qualities of the static are a bit harsh, but the ambient backdrop might lull listeners. Either way, it’s a good release.