Pig Shrapnel – Boar’d to Death (CD-R, Busey Teeth CDr)

harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

boar'd to deathPig 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.

Black Sand Desert & Unsustainable Social Condition – Black Sand Desert & Unsustainable Social Condition (C20, OXEN)

harsh noise, Noise, Review

bsd uscBlack Sand Desert is the moniker of Greh Holger, probably more well-known for his work as Hive Mind and as the owner of the Chondritic Sound label. Matt Purse is sole member of Unsustainable Social Condition, one of his harsh noise projects – he also goes by Fenian, and he runs the OXEN label on which this tape was released. The two projects collaborate on this C20 cassette, with side A being a studio recording and side B a cut from a live performance at the Handbag Factory in August 2016.

The first track is a perfect encapsulation of both Black Sand Desert and Unsustainable Social Condition working as a team; there’s really no area to pinpoint where one artist ends and another begins, and the track offers up a heavy churning maelstrom of sounds – often enunciating the rhythmic stop-start elements of cut-up harsh noise (which Purse does so well) while also allowing for droning elements within the mix. This untitled offering finds solid ground with consistent slices of feedback and sharp edges puncturing the crumbled bass textures, and it’s an excellent experience.

Side B is a bit less dynamic due to the live recording, but what comes forth are bass-heavy elements of rumbling textures combined with squealing electronic feedback and, at times, some ambient atmospheric tones. The quality of the recording is probably what limits this track the most, since some of the more definable characteristics don’t shine through the overwhelming rumble; however, it’s still a good listen and documents the presumed raucous live performance the duo give.

Some collaborations tend to feel forced (Full of Hell x Merzbow?) but this short and sweet cassette from Black Sand Desert and Unsustainable Social Condition is a perfect blend of two talents. Any fans of either project will find this to be a rewarding experience across 20 minutes of analog.

Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo – Doropea (C30, Old Bicycle Records)

ambient, Drone, Noise, Review

Doropea is an homage to Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo’s hometown of Torino, in reference to that town’s fountains and in part the rivers that make up its geography. In true thematic fashion Doropea is split into two parts, just like the duality of the two rivers. Both span one side and about 15 minutes, and they document two different styles for this artist.

The first side is a hypnotic series of sustained feedback drone tones with occasional found sounds, like the clacking of a typewriter. The whole thing is held together by occasional piano plinking and organ work, creating an ambient soundscape that works very well to pull the listener in. It feels organic and thoughtful, almost bucolic, and it’s an enjoyable fifteen minutes.

The second part also incorporates found sounds, although this one tends focus more on droning electronic elements. A faint repetitive tone seems to be sourced from the track’s early snoring recording, and Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo allows the track to expand outward from its initial drones, even giving the track some humming every now and then. It even quiets down for a slow climax outro, a twinkling echoing synth line that ends the album.

Doropea is an interesting release and one that certainly captures the intricate essence of “home” for an outsider; the ideas here help tell the story of what Palumbo memorializes from Torino, and it’s a deeply pleasant motif.

Wilt – Nocturnal Requiem (CD-R, No Part of It)

dark ambient, Noise, Review

Wilt is the project of Dan Hall and James Keeler, also members of Astronomy and Hedorah. This noise duo focuses on the dark ambient and drone side of the genre, and Nocturnal Requiem is six tracks of somnambulant tones that cater more towards the sinister side of drone and dark ambient.

The first track is “Wandering Echo,” and much like its title suggests, this is a very meandering track full of sustained drones and repeating patterns. However, those intersecting elements also create what I would consider a boiler room cacophony – there’s the clanging of pipes to add a percussive element to the ideas, and that keeps the listener intrigued.

That’s the key to good dark ambient, too – that the tracks ensure the listener gets caught up in the soundscape rather than tuning out of it because of its repetition. Wilt captures that on Nocturnal Requiem. “Even the Most Ancient Things Lie in the Weeds of Present Time” is relatively short, but its bass clicks and churns suck the listener into the frolicking patterns.

“Moon Diver,” the album’s middle track, adds a heavy maelstrom in the background as synth notes call out from the depths. However, this one tends to go on a bit too long – it has some alterations as it reaches the double-digit length, but for the most part it remains stagnant in its call-and-response drones, although it would be the perfect fit for a horror film’s stalking moments.

“Over Waters Hidden Below” brings it back, though, with a churning drone in the background and a subtle hiss in the foreground. Synth notes break in here and there to add emphasis to the sound as listeners get pulled into the tones. “The Autobiography of Dreams” brings it back to the clanging of “Wandering Echo” while adding a swirling windstorm and oscillating synth notes; this one’s my favorite of the six because of its execution and complexity.

“The Starless Vault of Heaven” ends Nocturnal Requiem on almost an upbeat note, with more ethereal synth tones and a house electronica beat. It’s an experiment, and quite different from the brooding offerings before, but Wilt captures the feeling of coming out of the dark into a celestial sea, and it’s a great way to conclude the album.

Nocturnal Requiem is my first Wilt experience, but based on the dark ambient material offered here, I would love to check out more. This duo is able to conjure up eerie tones, but the album shows their range with a couple of dynamic tracks that sees Wilt stepping out of its comfort zone.

 

Commingled Containers – August Voyeurism (C60, Underground Pollution Records)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Uncategorized

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.

Fossils/Cathal Rodgers – Demons in the Architecture (C60, Sonic Drift)

Drone, harsh noise, Noise, Review

Fossils pairs with Cathal Rodgers for another one of Sonic Drift’s Demons in the Architecture cassette releases, and this one offers up an hour of weirdness from both artists. Fossils is in an improv noise unit that has amassed a huge number of releases for over ten years, while Cathal Rodgers varies his style and sound depending on the artists with whom he’s sharing cassette tape. This Demons in the Architecture release is surprisingly different from the previously reviewed split with RST, and that’s a solid compliment.

Fossils’ offering is a side-long track called “Histories of Time to Come,” and it’s a noisy compilation of sounds that slowly unfurls throughout its running time. The group starts off with a minimal series of scratches, crashes, and other junk banging, then builds to droning crescendoes, bubbling noises, and electronic haranguing that tends to conjure up hallucinatory visions. It’s a thirty-minute soundscape that will appeal to those with more minimalist taste, since Fossils rarely opens up the track and instead pushes forward with experimental hums and wonky bursts. It does run a tad long with some areas failing to capture attention perhaps due to its improvisational nature, but “Histories of Time to Come” is a unique listen with some intriguing sounds.

Cathal Rodgers’ side is subtitled “Rapture and Revelation,” and he gives up five tracks of droning harsh noise, almost bordering on power electronics at times. “Rapture,” a track that along with “Revelation” bookends the side, features reverberating drone lines and crumbling textures interspersed with sizzling attacks of sound that boil up rhythmically, a stand-out on this release. “Seven Heads and Ten Horns” features droning reverb and heavy guitar distortion mixing for great results, resulting in a feedback-driven wall to close out the track. “Revelation” is a crackling, almost wall-like track that finishes things strong: static shudders combine with an echoing background wail, slowly building up force throughout the eight-minute running time. It’s a heavy track, and another excellent cut in his Demons in the Architecure lineup.

This split release is a bit on the eclectic side with Fossils’ pairing, and the two sides seem a bit at odds with each other at times. Still, it’s an intriguing listen from both projects, and yet another quality release from Sonic Drift.

新宿二丁目 – Feedbacks & Hurlements (CD-R, Ikebukuro Dada)

Drone, harsh noise, Noise, Review

新宿二丁目 is the joint project between Rotkappchen and Chibre, both of whom have their own solo projects. This release, Feedbacks & Hurlements, finds the two coming together for a noisy display of electric guitar, electric bass, percussion, and electronic noise. Two of the tracks are performed by both members, and the middle offering is from Chibre singly. Over the course of thirty minutes, Feedbacks & Hurlements gives listeners a hefty dose of experimental noise using actual instruments from two capable musicians.

The album begins with “Feedbacks,” a fairly accurate title for this 18-minute track full of electric guitar swirls, biting noise feedback, and Chibre’s percussive elements. Rotkappchen’s guitar sound creates a cacophony in the background while feedback blasts the front end, smacks and hammerings adding nuance to the sound. This is a drony piece, although listeners will probably find it hard to get lost in the guitar distortion since there’s not a lot of variance besides a sustained searing tone. But it’s interesting to hear “Feedbacks” drift, with Chibre’s occasional noise bursts providing some nice alteration to the sound.

“Numb Your Mind” finds Chibre doing a solo noise piece, which works fairly well despite being somewhat muffled from a recording perspective. This feeds right into the collaborative piece “Hurlements,” which again finds Rotkappchen creating some swirling guitar feedbacks while Chibre employs some noise junk work. My biggest complaint with Feedbacks & Hurlements is that it at times feels too wholly similar, with none of the three tracks standing out from each other in variety.

However, it’s a solid half hour of noise experimentation, and Rotkappchen and Chibre pair well together with flowing works that seem to compliment in their drones. 新宿二丁目 is an interesting duo, and I look forward to seeing what they can put together next – perhaps something with just a tad more variability.

Richard Ramirez & Julien Skrobek – Doriana Bridge (C30, Hallucination Tapes)

harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

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 – Sublunary Visions (CD-R, Hallucination Tapes)

harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

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 – Gertie (3″ CD-R, Not On Label)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

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.