Deeper Wells – Untitled (C20, Maniacal Hatred)

harsh noise, Noise, power electronics, Review

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Deeper Wells is a power electronics with a few releases under its belt. Untitled, a C20 on Maniacal Hatred, has all of the seething rage of an aggressive noise track, with yelled vocals that lie underneath the noise because of their muffled nature, as though delivered through a loudspeaker covered in dust.

This tape offers up two untitled tracks, side-long. Side A features a repetitive track of surging and rhythmic high-pitched feedback, occasionally changing pitch. Behind it is an almost ambient loop that continues throughout the track, a light rushing sound that carries the track forward. The feedback is the most important piece of this track, as it is the one thing that differentiates the sound. The dark loop provides a stable structure for Deeper Wells to work with while single textures shift randomly, the vocals spiraling inside the sound.

The second side has a track full of shimmering static, which makes up the background of the track. There’s a rhythm going on in this “Untitled” output – muffled tones of noise churning transform into a feedback-laced forest full where Deeper Wells puts his vocal delivery. There’s a couple of heavy chords thrown in as well, and much like the other side, this one’s repetitive without feeling like it lacks depth.

The only thing that seems to be problematic about Untitled is that there never seems to be a climax in either of these tracks; side B does swell, but the swirling textures seem to stew rather than explode. These tracks are still good, but Side A could have advanced towards a clash of sounds rather than just straight repetition.

But overall Deeper Wells offers up two grimy tracks of power electronics that explore interesting textures. Straight feedback is emphasized over direct vocal delivery, but the textures that hold the tracks together are forceful and creative.

White Gimp Mask – Untitled (C30, WGM Tapes & Vinyl)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

wgm untitled

You know what to expect from White Gimp Mask, AKA Robert Newsome – totally drenched sonics, often disrupting any sense of peace. That changes a little bit on this untitled cassette, however, since WGM limits its output with a few electronics and a microphone recorded in a hunting tower. There’s nothing here that allows for the kind of manipulation and wall-like sounds WGM normally does, and this really expands the output on this recording.

The first untitled side is much harsher than the second, featuring a lot of miked feedback, occasional rumbles, and the scratchiness of closely-recorded static. This carries on for much of the side, with WGM switching on and off between the rumbles and crackles of a wall to a piercing segment in which high doses of feedback are offset by minimal static. It’s an effective side, abrasive yet totally focused.

It’s on side B where the limits of the microphone/minimal electronics usage is shown. The track starts off with occasional rumbles of bass and a straight-forward whistle, at times opening up for crunch but maintaining a fairly placid sound. After a while, a blast of electronics fills the track – the whistle drops out, the bass is torched, and everything becomes much thicker. WGM continues the patterns throughout the track, and it makes for one great listen.

The minimal touches on Untitled don’t create the thickest or most abrasive of harsh noise, but the imposed limitations for the artist force the tracks to find clever ways to get around this obstacle. Often, minimalism is an area that harsh noise overlooks, but here White Gimp Mask uses sparse soundscapes to conjure up big sounds.

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White Gimp Mask/Frustrated Dissector – Untitled (C30, WGM Tapes & Vinyl)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

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White Gimp Mask and Frustrated Dissector are both Houston harsh noise projects. Robert Newsome is WGM, also the owner and operator of WGM Tapes & Vinyl, while Frustrated Dissector is a lesser known project with Richard Ramirez and the two members of Illicit Relationship. White Gimp Mask’s noise project should be most familiar, while Frustrated Dissector has only released a couple of tapes here and there.

On this split, both projects offer up two 15 minute long sides of blistering harsh noise. White Gimp Mask gives us a churning maelstrom throughout, with chaotic blasts of static and bass-driven fuzz, along with moments of screeching but not high-pitched feedback that comes and goes occasionally. There’s not much here that I can explain in detail because WGM switches from soundscape to soundscape so fast that once you’ve heard a sound, it’s assured you probably won’t hear it again. Entirely brutal, and endlessly moving.

Frustrated Dissector’s take on harsh noise is less active than WGM’s, beginning with a fixed loop of crunchy static and moving into a wall-like sound of very bass-driven, lo-fi fuzz with low-pitched feedback overtop. Frustrated Dissector move in waves – they aren’t constantly changing the set so much as carefully placing more textures into it, and it’s interesting to compare this to WGM’s side where his noise travels. Neither is better, but they do have different styles.

Anything with these projects is certainly worth your time, and I haven’t encountered a WGM Tapes & Vinyl release yet that has rubbed me wrong. It’s a label focused on the crunchy, static-filled noise, and both WGM and Frustrated Dissector deliver with huge tracks of sonic slaughter.

Vomir – Untitled (C30, Forever Escaping Boredom)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

vomir

You know if you like Vomir or not – most of his harsh noise walls don’t change too drastically from release to release. Here he’s working with all untitled stuff – the tape, the tracks, and even the relatively standard cover art. There’s nothing here to distinguish from anything else, and that’s exactly Vomir’s MO.

The first untitled track (both run at around 15 minutes) is a shuddering wall of swift-moving static. The static is jumpy and jittery; the bass behind it is rumbling, and they come together to form a track that feels like it is all over the place at the same time. Very swirly tones come together, with everything juddering around it. It’s all very heavy and locked in place, and there’s really no movement throughout this track despite the feeling that things are coming and going throughout the middle of the wall.

The second track is ultimately very similar to the first track, so much so that I actually questioned whether it was different at all. They do have different run times, I’ll give them that much. What I think that Vomir has done here with this Untitled cassette is craft a long-running wall split into two tracks; the second is not so much a different wall but a continuation of the first with perhaps a couple of minute differences to the setup, the tone, or whatever else he felt like toying with.

That might feel like Vomir giving up the same track twice. But it also sits well with his stance on harsh noise wall. Whether you can pick out a difference or not is not the issue – it is supposed to be indistinguishable, simply blocking out the world. And when listening in tape format, the transition from side to side – the simple flip of the tape – kind of cancels out the listener’s memory of the nuances of the first. It’s when one listens back to back (or, like me, at the same time) that one finds an almost unnerving similarity.

At first, I was a little frustrated, both with my listening skills and with Vomir for throwing us two ridiculously similar tracks. And at the same time, I’m pleased with him for adhering to the qualities he began with his work. The second untitled track does seem to have some minor minute differences – less bass and more open static, for example – but to detect them requires intense listening, tuning out everything else. It’s what Vomir wants you to do, and at that point the question of repetition is thrown out the window.

Vile Plumage – Untitled (C90, Not On Label)

Drone, harsh noise, Industrial, Noise, Review

Like Darren Wyngarde’s other recent project as Urdwyg the Golderr, this Vile Plumage C90 is only available from the man himself. You can get it by dropping him an email asking for it, although he’s got to “feel the pull of the universe” before he sends it to you. You should talk about omens and spiritual animals (hint hint).

Also like that other tape, Untitled is very strange and almost improvisational in quality. The tape is simply all over the place, with loops and collages, whirring and poor dubbing quality, all laid into 45 minute sidelong tracks. The feel of both is the same, but the amount of noise and whackiness is different for each side. You might find some screaming women on side A; side B has a looping vocal pattern, scrapes of sound, and some organ that drones on.

Unlike Urdwyg the Golderr, this tape sounds a lot more focused, and it’s not as ridiculous in nature since it’s not portraying making noise just for the sake of noise. There aren’t any random fart sounds or weird yelling; these are more compositional and flowing, and out of the two, Vile Plumage is the one that I would listen to more.

It’s good to just throw on Untitled and let it take you where it will; it’s difficult to expect anything from it, and so that’s a good thing when the listener simply tunes in and out at will. These tracks are easy to get lost in, in both senses of the word. And since all you have to do to obtain this release is send an email, it’s worth the effort.

Alisa-Yhtye – Untitled (C46, Phage Tapes)

harsh noise, Noise, power electronics, Review

Untitled is actually an older release from noise act Alisa-Yhtye, which was originally self-released back in 2007. Phage Tapes picked up this release, putting it out on the label on a C46 with some great artwork. This tape features six tracks, three per side, of totally unrelenting harsh noise from the moniker.

The first cut features an extremely chaotic looping of noise, industrial-driven with a pulsating pattern that slowly adds new ideas and textures to the mix. Despite seeming straight-forward at first, Alisa-Yhtye expands on the concepts of harsh noise by adding an almost power electronics anger to the sound, and it results in punishing explosions of sound and surprising stop-starts that change the dynamic of the rhythm. Track two is just a white-wash of sound, really harsh grating windbursts of noise that tend to singe the ears while in the background, feedback and quick bursts of sound add undertones to the searing assault. The third track is the polar opposite, focusing on the feedback with the static underneath rather than vice versa. As it stands, these tracks are a bit too similar, and the third track is rather familiar fare for harsh noise.

Over on side B, the first untitled track falls into the same style of noise, with rhythmic walls of sound often seeming to rage just underneath the surface of the cacophony. This time, though, Alisa-Yhtye adds a roaring scream, perhaps sourced from some sort of revving engine or even vocal growls, that adds a niche to this track. The second track blends with the first, maintaining that area of revving electronics yet dropping the harsher areas of the previous track, and this cut drones more with a lower bass rumble beneath. Unfortunately, after the intensity of the the previous track, this sort of loses the momentum that Alisa-Yhtye had built, and the stagnant rumbles don’t do much for me here. But it’s made up for by a schizophrenic final track, combining elements of eclectic harsh noise twiddles and low manipulated samples for a juddering, stuttering finale.

There’s a lot to like about Untitled, and Alisa-Yhtye adds a lot of flavor to the harsh noise tracks on display on this cassette. They often fall into a rhythm, except that rhythm is very blistering with some incredibly pummeling noise that takes high-pitched electronics and throws it at the listener with full force. It’s a loud 46 minutes for the most part, and that’s what matters.

 

Nocturnal – Untitled (CD-R, Slow Death Records)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

Nocturnal is an elusive ambient wall noise act (ANW), a classification I’m somewhat hesitant to provide but which best describes Nocturnal’s static churnings. Much like the other releases on Slow Death Records, this CD-R is presented with red-shaded, tribal artwork on a white CD-R with four tracks of lengthy, relatively unchanging walls. Nocturnal sounds very similar to the stylings of Slow Death Records’ artist Ghost, although I cannot confirm that the artists are the same.

The first untitled track features a fuzzy brand of static which sounds fairly digital; there’s an initial undertone of wall rumbling from a layer of static, and on top of that is a single layer of fluctuating strands of static that strike and release, allowing the track to alternate and judder throughout its twenty minute runtime. It’s ambient and yet still mesmerizing because of this single line of static, which cuts in and out at unequal times and seems fairly random.

Untitled two retains that same digital fuzz, and this time the wall mimics what a harsh noise wall might do – a low rumble that is quite similar to the first track, with a minimal strand of static that rages right alongside it. There’s a good transition, and this track is what I would say would be most similar to something you might hear from Ghost’s harsher walls, with a similar set-up and different sound. Likewise, track three rolls right into a wall pretty identical to the second, although this is harsher, with a blown-out static movement along with rolling bass beneath it, something you might find less ambient than the other tracks on this Nocturnal disc. And finally, track four features the same rumbling textures but with a little extra audibility. The static seems strangely pared back but also more encompassing, an odd but hypnotizing sound that ends the disc.

There’s a strange fuzzy quality to Nocturnal that I love, something drenched in the mesmerizing sounds that can really fray the brain and fry the ears. There’s nothing on Untitled that might blow those listeners of HNW or ANW away, but it remains a significantly strong foray into that world regardless.

Alois Richter – Untitled (CD-R, Slow Death Records)

harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

Alois Richter is one-half of the HNW project The Sandman Wears a Mask, and a friend of Slow Death Records labelhead Ghost. In an interview with Roger Batty at Musique Machine, Ghost mentions that Richter has “never pushed to get anything of his released,” and goes on to say that Richter was coerced into helping with The Sandman Wears a Mask. But on Richter’s solo work Untitled, we get to see a blend of interesting harsh noise walls that really showcase Richter’s offering to that previous group.

Four tracks here make up about an hour of walls; each track runs for give or take twenty minutes (except track three, which clocks in around ten minutes). Slow Death provides the release with the signature red-tinged artwork of a stoical voodoo statue, with no information on artist, title, or songs included. The packaging is both lavish in design and devoid of any personal touch, perfect for the forthcoming walls.

The first track is twenty minutes of hissing static, paired with a rolling bass pattern behind it that creates a sort of electronic whir. The bass is nicely nuanced, providing a lot of subtle transitions to note behind the mostly unchanging static. Like most of the Slow Death Records releases, Alois Richter focuses on textures that are both rigid in structure but also seem endlessly changing because of the variability of the pairing of sounds. “Untitled” one does so with its bass, which tends to shift and judder even when it’s apparent this is not the case.

“Untitled” two has a unique sound to it, of a very shimmery crumble with a fuzz of static lightly misting the track with a digital noise that sounds somewhat like scraping Styrofoam together. Compared to the previous track, this is a little more reserved, and if you think of the noises in the wall as arcing rays of sound, there’s no sound that sticks out moreso than the others, and instead they collude with a really compact wall of crumbling bass. This simple wall might be stretched a little thin at the twenty minute mark, as it doesn’t have the same tantalizing effect as the other walls on the disc, but Richter’s fuzzy wall is oddly fascinating all the same.

The third track finds Richter moving to a different kind of sound, a ten minute piece that takes the minimal wall of the second track and drops it down a few more notches. A very sparse sound of static patterings are coupled with bassy strikes, as though someone is smacking a wall that echoes. One can get lost in this simple sound following the bass strikes; however, I was starting to get fed up with the sound until Richter ended it with perfect timing. This is certainly a track that can’t continue in an extended wall like the others on this disc, but Alois Richter senses this and moves on just as the listener feels like they can’t take any more.

An excellent transition with a surprising blast of guitar-warped noise and bass end this disc, with a very harsh sound of spiraling whirls of noise. There’s some static blast in the background, but for the most part this is a whirling dervish of bass and noise. The central tone of the higher-pitched noise tends to fluctuate and that’s where the spin of “Untitled” four comes in, but subtle expulsions of static tones also bring the listener a taste of non-harsh noise wall material.

Untitled is an impressive release from Alois Richter, and it sets him apart from his counterpart Ghost in The Sandman Wears a Mask. Original walls combine with more standard sounds on this lengthy disc, and here’s hoping that Slow Death can coerce Richter into releasing more of his material.

The Sandman Wears a Mask – Untitled (CD-R, Slow Death Records)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

The Sandman Wears a Mask is a collaboration between Ghost and Alois Richter, two Slow Death label artists who craft their fear of sleep into harsh noise walls. On this release, six tracks of untitled walls feature field recordings shifted and sourced into static noise. Some sound more apparent than others, but the hour of walls on this disc are some of the most rewarding I’ve heard.

First is a windy track from the duo, which sounds sourced from various buffets of stormy winds. There’s a bass line of generic  static crumbles that is punctuated with blasts of howling swirls that punch through the static at various and anti-rhythmic times. This track feels constantly changing, with each monstrous shriek of wind pointedly off-kilter and random. It’s a shorter length compared to some of the longer walls on the disc, but it’s one that hits the listener hard immediately.

Track two starts off with a fast-paced crunch of static, although the real draw of the track starts to kick in once the listener begins to hear the sputtering and spattering of a water-based bubble beneath the hardened static exterior. If the first track was wind, this one’s most certainly water, and the collusion of the boiling and the static makes for an intricate, textured listen. Again, The Sandman Wears a Mask are able to incorporate a sense of movement by using decidedly organic features of the wall’s sound.

A low end of static purrs out of the third cut, at first just a bit of white noise to juxtapose the earlier tracks’ intense connectability. Like the first, faint shards of rearing static can be heard underneath the main texture, although this one takes a more relaxed approach for its short track length. It’s somewhat fitting, too, that this comes in the middle of the disc; it’s a softer wall perfect for white noise, and it segues nicely into number four.

Four maintains the sort of pared back static of three, a sort of muffled rainstorm with the same sort of wind whipping back in and out of the pounding static. The source on this sounds deeper, with more rumble and less space between the crackles of static. In that sheet of rain-noise comes pulsations of sound from the depths, a monster’s roar or that of a jet engine cutting through the sky. As we see with most of the walls, the construction of the texture has a lot to do with sounds bubbling up from the depths, surprise visits from the sandman himself.

Untitled five picks up with some hi-fi, swiftly moving fuzz, not so much static anymore but an onslaught of flamethrower-like crunching that judders and dips along at a frenzied pace. Consistently changing in its approach, this almost resembles a harsh noise track with its clipping pace, and although it’s a fairly big change from the quadruple harsh noise walls of Untitled, the piece is finely honed and mammoth in its fuzz.

And then a fantastic transition to the last track, which picks up the sort of crunchy static wallers desire. Very standard in its approach, the final track brings the listener back to the roots of The Sandman Wears a Mask, where the sources aren’t as evident as the earlier tracks and the wall obliterates much of the background drama with an immense static eruption. There’s not a lot that tries to bubble up underneath this; instead, it’s a fairly straightforward wall that rages for almost twenty minutes. I’d argue that the length is a little too stretched here, giving far too great a value to the somewhat pedantic sound.

But this is a wonderful piece of work, with over an hour of high quality walls on display. Rich in textures and subtle undertones, but dense in its static underpinnings, The Sandman Wears a Mask effectively meld their sound sources with great walls, and like the last album on Slow Death, the artists are certainly invigorating the harsh noise wall genre.

Ghost – Untitled (CD-R, Slow Death Records)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

This mysterious CD-R lists no tracks, title, or artist; likewise, the disc is simply a white CD-R (just like the others on Slow Death Records). What stands out is the excellent harsh noise walls on display on this release from Ghost, and the spectacular design of the artwork – a tribal-esque idol figure with a creepy face holding an umbrella, filtered in red. With the lack of titling, it’s difficult to create expectations of what Ghost will sound like except perhaps crackling static whispers akin to the namesake, and that’s just what the listener gets here with four meaty tracks of static crackle and huge bass rumbles.

Track one starts out heavy and is fairly unchanging through its 20+ minute runtime. There’s a huge bass backdrop with a small amount of static trickling through. There’s also a feeling of the bass ebbing and flowing, breathing in and out with the length of the track. The single strand of static allows Ghost to manipulate that sound rather easily, and every so often the static will open up with expanding webs of sound. It leaves a lot of factors for the listener to focus on, and it’s incredibly easy to get lost in this first track.

Track two is melded right to track one, and it incorporates that huge bass of the first while cutting back on the static. Instead of having an outward, harsher static tendril, we get a really fuzzed and distant static crumble. It’s an excellent transition from the first track’s attitude, but the length of the track fails to engage as much as the first. This is mostly due to the second track’s muffled static; it’s less in-your-face, and though it’s hypnotic at first, the long run of the cut doesn’t bode well for me, as I feel that the distance of the crumbles makes it easy to tune out the track. However, there are certain surges that enhance the listening experience.

Track three barrels in with a loud and pounding static wave, a jarring switch from the quieter sounds of the previous wall. This is all crunch and bass; huge waves of static churn as a background rumble drones continuously with the same pitch and timbre. This is my favorite cut of the set, completely destructive but harnessing that static goodness so well. Turn it up loud and enjoy the abrasion of the heart attack bass and the explosion of static.

And with track four we’re back to a quieter, more reserved wall. Again, it’s not as interesting to me as Ghost’s harsher stuff on this disc, but it’s certainly unlike all the other tracks here. Instead, we’ve got a zipline of static, sort of like Velcro constantly being torn from its partner piece, and a churning of stable rumbles behind it. Occasionally a bass crackle will thud into the mix, giving the whole thing a random and off-kilter jive, but for the most part it’s just the subtle sounds of zipper static driving this wall.

Though the reserved walls are less enduring for me than the thick ones, this first release from Slow Death and Ghost is incredibly good HNW material. Packaging is a definite plus, but for me, the standard for walls has been set very high here, and the incredible bass sound is meant for loud listening. Absolutely recommended for wall fanatics, especially those that enjoy only subtle shifts in sound over long periods of time.