The Killer Came from the Bronx – Purgatoried Torso (CD-R, Ink Runs Recordings)

ambient noise wall, harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

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.

recommended

La Goccia D’Acqua – Tradere (3″ CD-R, Ink Runs Recordings)

ambient noise wall, harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

la goccia d'acqua traderYet 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.

Sadistic Fall – The Ruined Castle (CD-R, Ink Runs Recordings)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

sadistic fall ruined castle

Sadistic Fall is yet another project from Ink Runs Recordings’ Julien Skrobek. This one is another harsh noise wall release in the vein of some of Skrobek’s earlier output as Ghost and Ruine. Sadistic Fall has had a couple of different albums now; this one features a 20-odd minute track that rarely changes from its staccato pulse.

The Ruined Castle is made up of a couple different textures. There’s a roiling bass background that moves forward steadily, somewhat faster than middling speed. On top of that is a crunchy crackle of static, somewhere between the spitting of a fire and the crushing of leaves.

The pairing is quite effective as a wall, with a lot to focus on in both foreground and background. The minimal layering is similar to other HNW output, but there’s a tendency for The Ruined Castle‘s generally stoic sound to change the static patterning, at least in some small part. There are some surges of crackle, some portions that seem a bit less spaced out – that’s where the draw lies.

As stated before, this project release feels more akin to Skrobek’s earlier projects than his latest output with other monikers. This is rather unchanging and predictable, yet subtle movements keep the sound lurching forward throughout the runtime. For fans of his work, this is a rewarding listen from yet another Skrobek project.

recommended

Velfaerd – Alt Er Vel (CD-R, Ink Runs Recordings)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

velfaerd

Velfaerd is a static noise project from Denmark; the project’s name means “welfare” in Danish. Alt Er Vel is the first release from this sonic noisician, and it is one long thirty minute track of rhythmic wall that does not change from structure.

The texture of Alt Er Vel, however, consistently varies, from a wash of static to a wave and back again. It’s clear that Velfaerd does not change the way the track moves; it is clearly rhythmic, with a push and pull to it defined by a surging in the loop’s latter portion.

The change occurs in the static that muffles the piece. Different emphasis on crunch makes up the only variation. While Velfaerd is offering up a wall in some way, the loop makes it difficult to really tuck into this track – the hypnotism of the layering is broken by the constant sing-songy loop.

As a project, Velfaerd is young and probably just finding the theme of its noise output. Alt Er Vel is a good start, although the elongated portions of the sole track tend to focus too much on the loop by trading one fuzzy texture for another. Still, it’s an artist to look out for – also available is a split with Robert Ridley-Shackleton called Wind Damage.

Flesh Clocks – Columns of Blood (For Adriana Varejão) (CD-R, Ink Runs Recordings)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

flesh clocks

Flesh Clocks is the duo of Julien Skrobek and Charlotte Skrobek, husband-and-wife team of harsh noise wallers that offers up a wall of high and low end sound. Columns of Blood‘s sub-title, the dedication to Adriana Varejão, indicates the artistic bent of Flesh Clocks, while still maintaining the dedication to the same ideals that Skrobek has worked with in the past.

Here, the wall is composed primarily of two different sounds. Charlotte comes in first with a low muffled bass that runs alone for five minutes; Julien then opens up with a torrent of crunchy static sounds. After that, the track allows the wall to run onward without much change for the duration of the sound.

It’s an interesting idea for a piece, especially a married couple. The two sounds interlock into one wall, allowing for the metaphor of relationship and marriage and so on. But it also shows how two sound samples can equally give and take for a track, and this is primarily the draw of Columns of Blood. The wall itself is not expansive, nor is it harsh – there’s a muffled texturing here that simply allows this to be a soothing, ambient-like track.

But it’s well worth a listen, and a fascinating look into the intimate lives of two artists coming together to form one wall.

Serpent Sex – Abased & Sloughing (CD-R, Ink Runs Recordings)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

serpent sex

Serpent Sex is another project from Julien Skrobek of Ghost/Ruine/various other releases, and this time he offers up one nearly 20-minute wall of sound called Abased & Sloughing. The release’s description simply states it is “processed white noise.”

That it is; the title track starts out with a quiet crackle of fuzz that intermittently features a sharp feedback burst, trading these off quite willingly throughout the opening few minutes of the piece. It is the most hypnotic of the twenty minutes, offering a loose, comfortably-paced bit of static that plays with expectations with its soft hush.

A little while in, it adds a couple of layers of static and bass to create an airy texture; that crackle is still in there, but there’s more emphasis on a background hum. There’s all good textures, but once this shift occurs the wall becomes more akin to standard HNW. It’s not a bad thing, but it does tend to blend together a bit more than the ambient textures of the opening. Eventually it all cuts out to head back to the static that began the track.

Serpent Sex is another interesting project from Skrobek, and Abased & Sloughing has some unique textures within it. An emphasis on the ambient and quieter portions of this wall is the most compelling feature of the release.

The Girl with the Stanley Knife – Cradle of Blades (CD-R, Ink Runs Recordings)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

cradle of blades

Ink Runs Recordings is the new label from Julien Skrobek of Ruine, Ghost, and many other harsh noise wall projects, as well as the previous label Slow Death Records. In much the same fashion as that previous label, Ink Runs Recordings releases small sets of CD-Rs with plastic sleeves and a more abstract approach to artwork. The Girl with the Stanley Knife is Skrobek’s significant other Charlotte Skrobek, a HNW project that puts out one 20 minute wall on this release Cradle of Blades.

The track is punctuated by a heavy bass wall without any openings that fills the background of the track, a fast-moving wave that stays put throughout. The forefront features a static crackle that alternates thanks to what appears to be Skrobek’s manipulation of a contact mic. There are a few changes within the sound, with a mid-range static sizzle opening up after the five minute mark, a quiet crackle towards the middle, and a quiet retreat from the dense background wall at the end.

The contact mic crackle at the beginning of this track is the most interesting, calm and clean and yet hypnotic in its alterations. The more pronounced static in the proceeding minutes is familiar to the genre, but still an excellent pairing with the impenetrable background. The Girl with the Stanley Knife’s debut work is a substantial release with a good wall, effectively combining multiple textures and variations throughout.