Here we have a lengthy tape from French experimental waller Trou titled Mallevs Maleficorvm. The two tracks on both sides of this tape are really just parts of the same whole, which basically makes up the entirety of a 70 minute slab of static walls and heavily modulated vocal effects.
The first half of the tape employs a pretty crunchy static pattern and those aforementioned deep, warbled vocals to maximum effect, relatively droning without a whole lot of change or variation in the mix until later into the track. That leaves side B to do a bit more alternation; you’ll hear the static patterns churn differently, more often interrupting the vocal background effects. Trou also changes the sound texture of those vocal effects too, something that sounds akin to a highly malfunctioning television set.
Mallevs Maleficorvm is an interesting use of harsh noise styles paired with more wall-like textures. The vocal warbling tends to sound somewhat similar to the fast alterations of sound utilized by cut-up artists, while the static remains pretty stoic throughout for wall elements. The result is a hypnotic, constantly shifting 70 minutes for the listener.
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.
I confess I’m probably not the intended audience for this release from Trou and Rotkappchen, which seemingly has references that I don’t quite understand due to its French connection. This quick C10 titled Miss Bolbec features a series of bulldozers on its cover and yet its actual content seems taken from the 2014 Miss Bolbec pageant. What we get are a series of short bursts of noise and tracks full of French speaking directly from that pageant. What they say, I can’t surmise – I did take some French but not enough to understand these tracks unfortunately.
However, both Trou and Rottkappchen give about 3 minutes of full noise blasts that are akin to harsh noise wall. Trou’s is a raucous stuttering affair that I like quite a bit, with enough bass shuddering to keep it interesting even through the found sound pauses.
Rottkapchen’s track is an uncut five minutes that features a young girl singing until a static blast of harsh noise wall cuts in overtop of an audience’s clapping. Short and to the point, it’s a solid piece of work that is quite the opposite of HNW’s routine.
While I don’t quite understand the intent of Miss Bolbec, the two really quick noise cuts are quite good though they’re not expanded on. For French listeners, this tape might reveal something more than what’s apparent to my strictly English ears.
I confess that it has taken me a while to review the things I was sent in the past, including many Ciel Bleu et Petits Oiseaux tapes. So when I popped Fosse’s Le Traître Magnétique into my player I did not realize that it was yet another project of Julien Skrobek, one that looks to have had limited use over the past few years. This C90, but a single-sided 40 minutes, was released in 2015, and it features four tracks of fairly traditional harsh noise walls from the prolific artist.
Each are cut into neat 10 minute lengths, making for easy starts and stops to these walls. The first is “Les Tarifs du Bourreau,” one that at first seemed to be an incredibly simple texture with a very condensed line of static. But listening closer, one reveals some dynamics at play in this wall: there’s a rollicking bass tone rumbling in the back, and the up-front, trebly static licks away throughout the track, rarely changing but always churning slowly.
“La Rose et l’Ordre” transitions smoothly, keeping a similar bass tone but changing the static line to something a bit more prominent and crackly. The bass background seems to morph into more of a drone without dips or pops, but the static takes full center-stage. These crackles make for mesmerizing listening. “Géométrie Mitterrandienne” drops the overwhelming static crackles for a much more subdued and less voluminous static line, allowing a similar bass backdrop more room with a mid-to-fast-rumble. This one is one of my favorites on the release, minimal but crackling. Finally, “Le Plan du Temple, Tracé Par Dieu Lui-Même” rounds out this tape with a gyrating, in-your-face static line and a menacing bass line behind it that reminds me of a muffled metal band somewhere in the distance. The static is penetrative and extremely rough, making for a nice harsh listen, and it occasionally seems to get even more crunchy at times.
Overall this is a nice experiment from Skrobek with Fosse; his usually more long-form walls have been truncated to 10-minute affairs that, across a single-sided tape, blend in with each other to form a longer wall full of variation. Definitely check this tape out if you come across it.
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.
Maussade is a project of NSN’s owner putting out harsh noise and harsh noise wall projects; various releases were or are still available, the most recent being in 2016 as far as I can tell. Trouver La Paix, a C55 from 2011, sees the artist performing the latter.
A punishing wall of static sound, this just-under-30 minute track (included on both sides) features searing bass tones and staccato swirls of crunchy textures, with the inclusion of a screechy feedback/trainhorn sound that I find seems to cut through the central area of the soundscape. Lots of background bass, foreground crackles, and that aforementioned pitched tone that continually ebbs and flows. This is a great track from Maussade that sounds quite full, and the nice thing about Trouver La Paix is that the listener can simply flip the tape to continue the onslaught.
Unsustainable Social Condition has been reviewed here before, so you know the drill: harsh noise bordering on power electronics project from Matt Purse, often supremely devastating. He returns with another release of two tracks for Phage Tapes on Pleasure Seeking Pacifists, offering about 17 minutes of electronics debasement.
The first side is “Many Were Terrified of Their Saviors,” a pummeling track that in many ways resembles a wall of harsh noise as electronic static and bass elements abrasively destroy the viewer’s ears. In the background is modulation that at times resembles yelling or screaming, a fluctuation that adds a lot of nuance to the otherwise stoic track. It’s a heavy and deafening experience.
On Side B we have the title track “Pleasure Seeking Pacifists,” which again borders on harsh noise wall territory with a heavy bass rumble and some intermittent alterations in a trickling static element at the forefront – this almost seems like radio chatter or like someone repeatedly messing with the dial. It’s a lot more dynamic that “Many Were Terrified of Their Saviors” about halfway through the bass rumbles become more pervasive, the static swirls more consistent.
Pleasure Seeking Pacifists is another great offering from Unsustainable Social Condition, short but abrasive enough for all harsh noise fans. And you’re in luck: it’s still available on Phage Tapes.
Pig Shrapnel is the harsh noise wall project of Joe Stache(less), also the owner of Hair On My Food Tapes & Records and Busey Teeth CDr. He’s been making all kinds of noise for years under different names (Hoggle, Extreme Chafing), but on Boar’d to Death he returns to something of a strange obsession – pig stuff. Everything on this disc is a pig pun or reference except maybe the walls themselves, and it’s always interesting to see what new pig reference the project can come up with next.
This disc features three walls over about forty minutes, each track lasting around the same length of time plus or minus a couple minutes. First wall is titled “Boarn Angry,” which features a bombastic, fast-paced bass judder underneath a crackling mid-toned static churning. The track remains relatively the same throughout except for what seems like a minor change to the wall minutes in, and Pig Shrapnel keeps the listener locked in the groove with a nice crunchy static texture.
The dynamic remains fairly similar as the wall transitions into “I Am the Ultimate Omnivore,” which seems to keep the rigid bass shudder in the background for more nuanced static. There’s an exterior sheet of static that is unmoving, just a slight hissing that adds one extra texture. Also found in the mix is more of that oscillating crackling static, though it’s somewhat softer than the first track with more controlled movement.
Again, track three – “Severely Lacerated by Razor Sharp Tusks,” a title that explains much of the CD-R artwork – moves seamlessly into place from the second track, continuing that bass-driven backdrop while removing the less-voluminous static for sharp, crackling, staccato textures. It’s also a stoic track, only punctuated by the random alterations of the static and bass and relatively unchanged throughout besides a few tweaks to the front maelstrom of static to make it a bit thicker.
Interestingly, Boar’d to Death is so interconnected that it could be a 40-minute track in itself, with three areas of change. Pig Shrapnel keeps that bass locked in a groove to make the transitions, and it’s an element that I like about this release – there’s a clear definition why the three tracks are on this release rather than another, giving it a defining quality that listeners should appreciate. This is a solid CD-R offering from Pig Shrapnel, and harsh noise wall fans will enjoy the onslaught of pig-related sonic textures.
Commingled Containers is the noise project of Paul Gremare and Romain Hebert, one the founder of label Autistic Campaign and the other the founder of Ikebukuro-Dada – both of which have been reviewed here in various forms. August Voyeurism is a lengthy excursion in improvisation, junk noise, and guitar squalls, an interesting mixture of ideas from the two musicians that finds the duo crafting six freeform noise tracks across the A and B side of this tape.
The juncture between the two artists is guitar noise – these tracks often feature some unveiled twangs and plucks of guitar strings before exploding into raging cacophony, as both “Welcome” and “August Voyeurism” quickly detail – a lot of feedback, scratchy electronics writhing, and occasionally the recognizable guitar drone and warble from Hebert. The duo create impressive and seemingly improvisational noise, often drifting from straight harsh noise into drone territory as the two lock into a groove between feedback and electronics.
Side B’s “U-Turn” launches into a sprawling crackle of decaying electronics, blustery static, and an overwhelming feedback tone that finds the duo working in excellent harmony – blending the electronics and guitars into a amalgamation where the result is a thoughtful, well-directed cacophony. “Aire nord de Vironvay (Côte Byzance)” similarly creates something of a harsh noise wall wherein heavy bass shudders combine with guitar histrionics.
Overall, this is a solid performance from Commingled Containers that offers up some great noise around an hour in length. The improvisational nature of these cuts makes them a delight to get lost in, to find the areas where the two artists merge and then break free of their interlocked sound.
Here’s an interesting collaboration between two harsh noise wall masters. Julien Skrobek, owner of Hallucination Tapes, teams up with Richard Ramirez (now Richard Ramirez-Matzus, congratulations) for a 22-minute wall that, on this tape, is split into two parts but otherwise seems to exist as a whole track on the Bandcamp page.
For this review I’ll break the release down into the two tracks because that’s how the tape is structured. The opening of “Part 1” fiddles a bit with its wall textures, starting with a dense bass rumble and static crackle before opening up into an airier, somewhat squealing squall. This doesn’t last long unfortunately (as I quite like this wall setup) before feedback signals a change to a heavy bass rumble with slight static crackle in the foreground. The static texture becomes this listener’s main focus, with the loose tendrils weaving some interesting layering.
Perhaps my previous listen to Skrobek’s Sumbru release Sublunary Visions with similar rumbling walls has something to do with it, but “Part 1″‘s bassy texture doesn’t interest me as much as “Part 2” does. The tape flip continues with “Part 1″‘s rumbles for a minute or two before another feedback swell signals a change to the wall. This one features more of the background rumble but includes a heavier static tone that sizzles, a texture that’s easy to get caught up in. It’s my favorite part of this release, with a loud and harsh collaboration that’s a tight wall we’ve come to expect from these two artists.
Doriana Bridge is a great release, although it’s a shame we don’t get anything longer from Ramirez & Skrobek! While I believe the tape itself is sold out, you can listen to the full track on the Hallucination Tapes Bandcamp page.