Circuit Wound has had a number of releases dating back to at least 2003, and this C20 from Oxen is a live two-part recording from a set played at The Blue Lodge. Despite its relatively uniform 20 minutes, the full track is split across both sides of the tape.
The untitled offering finds Circuit Wound working through traditional harsh noise output, a smattering of crunchy static interspersed with lots of varying oscillating tones. Overall, it’s not overwhelmingly abrasive but it does run through a variety of tones with a high degree of variability throughout the 20 minutes, and as a (presumably) improvisational live work, it shows Circuit Wound as a master manipulator in his trade.
The one downside to this recording is that I would have rather seen the full track released as a sidelong piece, presented as either a one-sided tape or duplicated for both sides to preserve continuity. Other than that, this is particularly effective piece of harsh noise from Mr. Howard.
Mason is another moniker for harsh noise cutup artist Thirteen Fingers, and we’ve reviewed a couple releases from that project previously. This cassette released on Oxen’s label finds Mason practicing some more cutup-style noise altercations across two 10 minute sides.
The first side’s two tracks, “Reflection of the Eye” and “Blood in the Wiring,” are the longer of those on this release, and are also not as frenetic. Mason gives the sporadic twiddling a rest in favor of allowing some of the sound elements to resonate in interesting drones. The ending of the first track fades out rather than smashing into cacophony, a nice respite from the usual cutup onslaught that ensues on the second half.
As one would expect, there’s a lot of churning, juddering, stuttering, and other adjectives often used to describe this style of harsh noise, and it’s all of good quality. Concrete Mirror is never too uniform in its sound, nor does any one track sound disconnected from the rest. And its focus on layering cutup with ambient interludes makes for a well-spent 20 minutes.
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.
It’s really hard to find any information about Church Slut, and searching Google is best done at your own risk for this specific phrase. However, I do know that Church Slut is Brian Harvey of Earthmover Records and I’ve reviewed another release of his in the past (the Church Slut/Naked Pyramid split). What we get on this C45 is two sides from the project, split into seven tracks without much space or discernment between each segment.
The first side starts out with a lot of looping with “Tiny Tim’s Lucid Dream,” an atmospheric ambient track that sees a vocal sample cut up and stretched out along with rhythmic dreamy noise in the background. As Cubicles Are Bad For Your Health moves along, it runs the gamut between near harsh noise walls with heavy static to power electronics with Harvey providing shouted, muffled vocals over churning maelstroms of noise. Later tracks again retain some of the looping effects like an electronic klaxon sound set to harsh noise blasts and megaphone-amplified screams.
This is a pretty good tape from Church Slut, though I will say that some of the tracks – specifically the last, “A Cascade of Failures,” run a little long without having enough dynamism to keep them memorable. For fans of harsh noise and power electronics, this is an interesting tape to check out – if you can find it.
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.
Rainy Tritium 1 is the first part in a series of releases from the insanely prolific K2. I’m a little behind on his discography, but since Rainy Tritium 1‘s release in 2017 he’s gone on to release 32 new albums, some of them releases of old works; that kind of output is hard to keep up with. However, Oxen’s release of Rainy Tritium 1 does seem like an appropriate place to pick up on K2’s new output; this three track album finds the harsh noise artist migrating away from his cut-up sound to a much more droning and almost rhythmic approach to noise, incorporating whole synth melodies into his soundscapes.
Each track runs on average 20 minutes, give or take a couple. The ideas at play on Rainy Tritium 1 range from synth-based warbles and siren sounds to a recurring rhythmic motif that, while the same in composition, differs in the actual pitch and timbre each time it makes its way to the forefront of K2’s triple threat.
But those worried K2 has lost some intensity in his transition to less in-your-face chaos should rest assured that Rainy Tritium 1 is still a dizzying listen, just in a different way; instead of lambasting listeners with constant texture switches, K2 allows those ideas to linger, and this is some of his best work that I’ve heard. It’s still loud and abrasive, but with a rhythmic, ambient side that showcases K2’s dexterity.
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.