A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Harsh Noise Walls (henceforth HNW) are, literally and figuratively, one of the most impenetrable forms of underground noise. Its radio static white noise times a billion, devoid of any recognizable trademarks of music of any kind. This is pure noise, texture and tone – all harmonics happening at once; white noise, brown noise, pink… who knew there were so many ways to crumble frequency? This is transmission, devoid of signal. This is ambient air pressure of the V0ID, of the eternal present. It is full where its cousin, Dark Ambient, is empty.
HNW is immense, monolithic, it leaves Humanity in the dust. This is the sheer shuddering bassweight of infinity, pressing down. Most fear and hate it, collapse under the weight, gibber at their inconsequence. Some of us love it, and find the vacuum peaceful. The HNW doesn’t care, either way, it just rolls on and on.
HNW, more so than any other kind of ‘music’, defies criticism as it is hard to say objectively whether one release is better than another. It might seem, on the surface, that every release, every filthy moniker, is interchangeable, and it boils down to that most tired of cliches: either you like it or you don’t.
Our goal, the reason this blog exists, is to tread where other’s despair, non-commercial musicks of all shades and stripes, and report on our findings. This is done in the spirit of exposure for the artists, and in the spirit of scientific analysis, towards the goal of refining the gems of every movement, and crying bullshit when we see it. Which isn’t often, as we spend every waking moment digging out interesting sounds, and every artistic temperament has something they’re trying to say. There is a human buried beneath the noise.
I submit, for your pleasure, a triple cassette box set from Wisconsian Anthony Shaw, who makes vile noise under a slew of pseudonyms, but shows up here as Burial Ground. Burial Ground divides his affections between pure static HNW and a love of Video Nasties, Giallo, Slasher Films and other okkvlt pleasures that come in large plastic clam shells. The Burial Ground formula seems to be cues from classic Horror films, breaking up relentless barrages of furious white noise that mostly take up one side of a C60, the most beloved of noise formats. These transmissions, released across a wide array of subterranean labels, feature sick, sweet Horror packaging, frequently done by Anthony Shaw himself, and often sell out in a breath. The horror themes make this qualify for inclusion the Horrorscores series, and gives us a chance to check out some sweet HNW from a previously unheard artist.
I have heard plenty of black wind harsh noise in my day, but have never really attempted any kind of empirical analysis. I cannot say, definitively, whether this HNW is superior or inferior to another HNW, or whether this micro-transmissions are worthy of yr hard earned bucks. I would say, that if one is in love with small press, homemade harsh noise, which is its trve form and home, then you will probably fall instantly in love, especially if yr a horror movie fanatic. These blackened transmissions give you the feeling of being washed away in one of these classic gorefests, which is about as harrowing as it sounds, and it also gives the sensation of what it is to be obsessed with these things. Staying up all night, jacked up on coffee and coke, watching eyes get plucked out, hearts ripped from rib cages, drills trephined through temples. It is a strange drive to be obsessed with Horror, or anything really. You deluge in it, you drown in its frequencies. You let it change you, become you.
Burial Ground is the sound of a trve harsh noise/horror movie devotee, with all the pleasure and insanity that it brings. It gives the sensation of insomia, staring out dark windowpanes in the dead of night, far from the crowds. It is wrapped up in a cloak of solitude, and is holy for it. You can think, despite the omnivorous frequencies devouring yr senses. I call this sensation feral zen – peace through noise, another topic for another day.
The one thing i can say, definitively, is that whatever fractured gear this maelstrom was coaxed from sounds warm, lush and thick, lovingly laid to analog. This harsh noise is actually rather soothing, and can be a superior barrier against the cacophany and endless demands of the rigours of modern society. The white noise is a cocoon, putting you in another world, even as you walk amongst theirs.
The presence of film and music samples separates Burial Ground from pure HNW, which is completely static and nothing ever happens. The most antisocial and misanthropic of Noise-ists disdain such condescensions towards Humanity and The Mind, which flops around like a carp on a dock, as it tries to make sense of all the stimuli and figure out WHAT EXACTLY THE FUCK IS GOING ON. The titles, the samples, and the packaging give these recordings A CONTEXT, and thus give it a narrative. Noise fiends may consider it cheating, but i think it makes for superior ‘music’, which is to say Sound Art, and these three tapes conjure winged hordes of otherworldly visitations.
The Omen is a series of Horror films dealing with Damien, the Son of the Devil, otherwise known as The Anti-Christ. ‘It’s all for you, Damien!’ cries the day nurse, before hanging herself at the children’s party. Film dialogue and occasional musical samples give these walls a feeling of the gates of hell opening, with the infernal legions blasting through, like A Night On Bald Mountain, in Fantasia. Its mostly static, again literally and figuratively, for the 3 hours of the 3 tapes, and its quite a mesmerizing trip to take, surprisingly hypnotic and lulling, especially if yr like Carol Anne from Poltergeist and like to listen to voices in the white noise. Things continue on in this way until the last 10 minutes of Omen III, where things really kick into hyperdrive, the final seal is broken, and all hope is lost. All the octaves, all the frequencies are unleashed, and it is like listening to a mountain of televisions tuned to snow, playing at top volume. The analog source smooths off the harsh edges, and even at full throttle, this HNW remains soothing.
The Horrorscores series, and our sonic wandering across the wilderness of genre, makes for a wondrous Mobius loop. We watch horror movies to listen for samples to make noise music. We listen to noise music for guidance in how to make our own music, and it goes round and round. When there’s so much to get lost in, sometimes you need a signpost to point the way. Listening to The Omen, or any other of multitudes of Horror themed noiseworlds Anthony Shaw constructs can introduce you to the gems of the Horror underground, and appreciating these movies can give you a way to get into HNW, the least commercial and hospitable, and thus the pvrest, of the species of the Noise genus.
A recommended introduction, for all fans of blood and static.
These copies of 13 were gone before dawn, but the awesome Bleak Bliss blog has been kind enough to rip and share. Check ’em out, and give ’em some love.
more HNW reviews @ Memory Wave Transmission; home of Hearse Fetish – an excellent resource and introduction