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.
Sumbru is a new project from Julien Skrobek, who also runs Hallucination Tapes and has been a prolific artist in the harsh noise wall genre under various monikers. Sumbru adds a new release to his belt with Sublunary Visions, a two-track forty minute excursion into wall noise based on lunar imagery and astrology. Both tracks clock in around twenty minutes, featuring a similar style of wall.
The first track is “Closed Eyes of the Frozen Moon,” a wall that features a heavy bass wollop that remains pretty mid-paced throughout this cut. Muffled rumbles pair with a crumbly static texture deep in the wall, allowing the bass line to take hold and shape the sound more so than the static. There’s not much change throughout this texture, a heavy twenty minutes that increasingly seems to create a droning tone in the middle of the wall, intentional or just a by-product of the tones.
Track two, “Emerging From the Astral Salt,” maintains a very similar structure, except now both the bass and static tones seem a bit less muffled in the mix. The bass texture features a fast churning rumble, while the static crackle sits within the middle of the track to create a nice even tone throughout. Again, the rumbling bass will be the focal point, but the static texture’s shuddering draws the listener into this hypnotic sound.
It’s nice to see Sumbru working within a textual theme here, because both tracks on Sublunary Visions sound closely reminiscent despite some differences in the texturing. Better, though, is the seamless transition between the two tracks, with no silence between the two. This ensures that the listener’s trance will be unbroken between the two walls. It’s another great release from Skrobek, this time under the name Sumbru, and any listener who has experienced his walls before will know what to expect from this album.
Big Hole has released some excellent harsh noise walls over the years, and Gertie, a 21-minute slab of crunch and static, is no exception. The project doesn’t interpret walls as stoic, unchanging monoliths that force the listener to sit through forty minutes of the same texture looping over and over; while there are projects that do this kind of wall well, that kind of wall noise is often lost in the overwhelming sameness of the genre. Here, the sole track “Gertie” features some textures that never change but also those that intermittently add variation to the tone, a truly enjoyable offering.
The track starts with a real sound clip, an interview with Ricky Hobbs; the release itself is based on the murder of Sylvia Likens, a brutal story of torture and abuse perpetrated by Gertrude Baniszewski and Hobbs that ended with a life imprisonment sentence for Gertie. Horrific murder and abuse plays heavily into this track as Big Hole sets up a damaging static crackle that continues throughout the work while chaotic, arhythmic crackles – in this listener’s opinion, the metaphorical stand-in for torment – continually alters the wall. This is an exceptionally intriguing wall, with the crackling textures becoming a kind of hypnotism and imprisonment for the listener.
Ultimately Gertie‘s running time feels the perfect length, with the wall never ceasing to lose its energy. Big Hole manages to evoke the same tonality as the murder case that he references on this release, and it showcases how harsh noise wall can generate a feeling even when noise itself is emotionless.
Big Hole’s Overwhelming & Collective Murder is a 20-minute disc featuring one wall, and it starts out with a sound bite from Burden of Dreams, a documentary on the making of Werner Herzog’s film Fitzcarraldo. I’ll confess to knowing very little about either of those two things, but one thing I do know is that this sound clip is perfectly in tune to Big Hole’s oppressive ripping wall spanning the course of this album.
“Overwhelming & Collective Murder” begins with a subtler crackling static before the full wall takes effect, and it’s a nice way to showcase the focal tone before moving into the wall’s more atmospheric layering. When the full wall starts, it’s part of that crunchy crackle – which is nicely raucous and rather fast-paced, wriggling endlessly throughout the 20 minutes – along with a somewhat denser static tone that combines quite nicely, plus a higher-pitched texture that makes up all three areas of the wall.
It’s very easy to get lost in this wall despite its harshness, and I’ll confess to getting absorbed in it despite my attempts to keep attentive to its shiftings – after a while, all three of the textures blend so well together that I forgot where they began, and it’s a hypnotic and, as the title states, overwhelming listen that leaves the ears ringing. Big Hole’s release says to listen loudly, and that’s a dangerous request: it’s rewarding and also quite damaging, and that’s probably the point.
Naughty and Sloth get together for a strange mix of harsh noise walls on this split C20, a quick one-and-done for each artist. Naughty is the harsh noise wall project of Charlotte Duchene, a project devoted eroticism and beauty; Sloth is a bit more of a mystery, with the project’s Bandcamp page featuring a slew of releases with crazy titles and often perverse imagery. Here, the two offer two side-long walls, with Naughty’s being a bit more rigid to the HNW format and Sloth morphing a song into a wall.
Naughty is on the first side with the track “Join At In the Bottom of the Swimming Pool”; clearly, there’s some kind of typo with that title, although since I don’t want to assume anything I won’t correct it and will use the title as written on the case (clarification from Naughty: it’s “Join Me At the Bottom of the Swimming Pool”). This is a ten-minute track heavy on the bass, with a low-end rumble throughout and deep crumbling static textures. It’s more ambient than harsh, actually, and it’s quite easy to fall into the rhythms of the static throughout; since this a deeper, more sonorous track, the textures crumble into each other, with little space within the static crackle. It’s good work, one that fans of nuanced HNW will enjoy.
The second side features Sloth (here just Sloth instead of his dual monikers Sloth of Gulf Coast Florida or Sloth of Northeast Ohio), and the track begins with a homemade song that he’s created. It’s a blurry, bleary eulogy to death metal, as one might expect from the title “Death-Metal Died”; there’s a very subtle melody that’s pretty indecipherable, along with singing and some barking lyrics; this gives way to the wall quite quickly, which almost feels like a Paulstretched version the original song. Ultimately, this creates a strange guitar-like drone that’s paired with a lot of crackling static and even some background textures that repeat over the track’s ten minutes. It’s not a traditional wall with static and bass rumbles, but it’s an interesting track for sure that contains a lot of areas for listeners to lock into.
The two tracks on this split are completely different from the other, but that’s kind of what you’d like to see based on two artists doing their own separate works. Both projects offer up good walls, and the major differences with these two harsh noise wall artists provides an eclectic twenty minutes.
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.