Completely ‘Walled-In’ [2019-09-25]HNW( Harsh noise Wall) is the most intense, and at times hypnotic of sound genres- and one of the most influential, prolific and unflinching brutal projects in the scene is Vomir. Since 2005 this project ,of Frenchman Romain Perrot, has released a steady-to-rapid flow of releases, and at present Discogs list around 304 release- but this probably doesn’t include ever Vomir release, as the project often releases on tiny labels, so I’m guessing the truly total must be moving towards 350. I first became aware of Vomir, and the wider walled noise scene, around 2007- and since I’ve followed the project fairly closely- to date we’ve reviewed 90 Vomir releases on M[m], and 12 years later the project's releases still remain as searing, crude, and oddly hypnotic as they always were- with one of the more recent and larger releases been a six-CD box set on Italian noise label Urashima. I caught up with Romain for his fourth interview with the site.
M[m]: You have now released hundreds of releases under the Vomir banner- how do you still manage to feel inspired to create noise?. And do you feel your focus and themes for the project have ever altered over the projects fourteen or so years existence?
Romain I made a promise to myself, that is to ever do noise. I keep my promise and keep ongoing. But more than a promise, it’s a day to day therapeutic process to keep off pressure, a balance to be at ease with myself. It’s also a deep reminder about who I am, and what I do. And I mean ‘DO’. Something I make, I create. It’s my craft.
The focus and themes are still the same. Withdrawal, seclusion, refusal.
M[m]: You call noise your daily therapeutic release- when do you normally create each day, is it in the morning/ evening? And do you do anything else to relax/ let stream off?
Romain The thing is I don’t necessarily have to process noise physically. Just to focus for it within my mind and it works. So it’s a kind of mental process. I have purchased very recently the Soma ‘Ether’, a little device that works like an antenna to capture electromagnetic frequencies. Just walking in the street with it and headphones is a great to have a noise session… I had learned in the past sophrology and Erickson hypnosis, and those are also great ways to create an ‘epoche’, to disconnect.
But make no mistake. I do not consider HNW as a new age meditation program. it is a therapeutic mean for me, but to withdraw, to nourish my repudiation of modern mass world, not feeling one with the universe
M[m]: It’s interesting to hear you mention listening to noise while walking the streets- as I’ve always found this quite fascinating experience myself- are there any personal favorite releases you like doing this with, or do you ever playback your own walls in such a setting?
Romain I do not use releases but direct noise. I use the SOMA Ether, a small receptor that captures frequencies. I just plug earphones on it and walk my way
M[m]: I believe you use numerous chains of pedals to create the projects extreme thick and crude sound- do you constantly have these set up ready to go, or do you arrange them as & when you create noise?
Romain True, I use several chains to produce the noise. The setup is ready to go. I stopped several years ago to play around with the effects. Sometimes I just add another line, that’s it. Sometimes I may have to change a bit because some effects or machines are aging and do not work properly anymore, but I like the decay of it and the fact that I have to get along with it.
M[m]: You mention that some of the pedals/ effects are aging/ decay- have you ever considered just creating a ‘wall’ from these elements?
Romain Not a wall, because it is not the raw sound I fancy for HNW, but those decay frequencies were used in some Trou Aux Rats tracks for background ambiance
M[m]: Has your set-up altered or changed over the years, and are you still recording/ mastering your walls in the same manner?
Romain My setup hasn’t altered much those past years. The basic lines haven’t changed for about 5 or 6 years now. I just added more lines. But the core is in place for years. I record in the same manner using a 2 tracks digital stereo recorder from the mix-table + small eq and sometimes an old compression box. It is a false stereo though. Mono on 2 tracks. The wave file is then copied on my computer to be sent to labels. I may use Audacity to edit length when necessary.
M[m]: You’ve discussed your set-up, but where do you work on/ recording your ‘wall’s?And has this remained the same for all your recordings? or have you experimented recording in different settings/ environments?
Romain Nowadays, my VOMIR gear is set in a house in the countryside.
There I spend hours and hours recording my walls, for planned and future releases. The set-up is always plugged, so I just switch power.
My gear was always quite close to me. For a lot of years, it was just by the side of my bed...
But I did not really experiment on different environments for HNW recording... The gear is my everything, so the process is pretty rigid.
I use different settings for my other projects though.
M[m]: What about the source material for wall-making- have these ever altered/changed?
Romain The source material is basically the same. Some noise generators, a modified drone box, and that are it.
M[m]: Last time I was lucky enough to see Vomir (un)live was at Winchester School of Art Minimalism: Location Aspect Moment event in late 2016- this was certainly a more arty and highbrow setting for the project- is this side of the projects appeal something you’d like to develop more in the future?
Romain It was indeed great to see you in Winchester. Really I don’t have any problem playing in a dirty club or in a highbrow setting. As long as I can display my noise in a good way, it’s good for me. I like these different aspects. I like theory, writings, new ideas or comments. Though it would never make change the noise I do. Good things about art places and festival is that you sleep in a bed, not on a dirty floor.
I had been part of several university research and talks, and I am always had been welcomed. It is very interesting to be able to reach a different audience.
M[m]: Through-out all of Vomir’s many releases most of the tracks have remained ‘untitled’- please discuss why you decided on this none naming policy, and when you do rarely name the track- what triggers this?
Romain As about the title tracks: I do not necessarily look for titles. Most of the time, when I 'force' myself to name a track, it is not so relevant, just a name, a title... on the other hand, sometimes a noun, a sentence, appears and I want to use it, and so this title would have more meaning to me.
Untilted is also a kind of continuity in the work. A long never-ending mass of noise...
M[m]: One Vomir’s larger and more recent releases has been the untitled six-CD boxset on Urashima- could you tell us a little bit about how this release came about.
Romain Cristiano from Urashima (whom I finally met in Milano, Italy) proposed me this boxset about a year ago. We talked about how we could release it and Cristiano took care about the producing aspect. We decided to make a 6 CD set, and I recorded hours then to select different tracks. Cristiano desires was not to have the same wall over 6 discs, but different textures of wall. I then wrote sleeve notes, and when we both agreed on the final draft, the box went into production. I am grateful to Cristiano, as Urashima is an amazing label, to continue to support my work.
M[m]: what do you see as the Urashima boxes key focus, and how do you see your texts lead into these themes?
Romain The Urashima box key focus is noise and seclusion. Pure static noise wall without any fanciness. I don’t look forward to releasing the most powerful or the most crushing noise. On the contrary. Real noise should be boring, unengaging, difficult to get into so it is something of an echo of nothing (to cite John Cage). The text is a poetic guide to seclusion, inspired by al old catholic text to lead women into complete withdrawal from society into walled rooms built in cemeteries or outside churches. They lived there for years, in their shit. They were willing to do so. I am not catholic, but I was raised close to this religion, which is really the best for all sex and death imagery, and seclusion of course
M[m]: Talking of larger releases is there any update on the 16 tape set that French wall noise label AnarchoFreaksProduction was due to be putting out?
Romain Yes, there is. There has been a problem on two cassettes I recorded (on 4 track tape recorder) so I have to finalize those and then hopefully the label can start duplicate…
M[m]: I know some years back you released a Vomir wall built around a guitar- have you ever considered do something like this again, or experimenting with your sound more in other ways?
Romain Yes, it was a wall made on a prepared 12 strings guitar, and I practiced for days to achieve a good session. The plectrum was attached to my fingers with bandages… In ‘Monde Mort’ (with Greg Henrion and Seb Borgo) I created a wall using an old kitchen device to press potatoes. It’s a metal plate turning around and crushing potatoes. I contact miced it and it was a good effect. But for Vomir, as always, I stick to the basic direction
M[m]: Vomir still remains one of the most influential, known and respected projects with-in the wall noise genre. Why do you think this is, and do you ever get annoyed when you see acts blatantly ripping off the themes and sound of the project?
Romain Noise scenes change quickly. Some people are involved (as labels or artists) several months, several years and then are gone. Some are in the noise scene to get an underground ‘past’ or recognition, some may think they’ll get special attention, some are into noise just for fun. And HNW may be the easiest one, as you take a radio and a distortion effect and you can go. Or even easier, two tracks of noise a music software can create and you are on Bandcamp. The thing is – and I will get pretentious here – that I am 45 and over 25 listening to noise. So I have a certain ‘retreat’, a remoteness about new acts, etc… but no hate or disdain. It’s good to have new blood (but don’t ask for name dropping, I don’t do this). As for me, well, I am dedicated, always active, still releasing, still doing live sets. My sustainability is why I am still known.
About influence and respect, it’s difficult to talk about this without being more pretentious or sounding like a guru. And ‘no master’ is my philosophy…
Some people may completely follow my themes, even names are quite close to what I do, etc…, but it’s ok with me, as in the end, it always goes back to my work.
Romain About being ripped off, yes I am concerned about this. When someone created a full Vomir Bandcamp, without authorization, and not to be an archive but to make money out of it, I reacted, prosecuted and terminated it. I got back my name. My work is mine. It’s not really about copyright, I would never end a video on youtube or sharing past albums, but when it is theft (name, sound, etc…) I do not agree. When I entered the experimental music scene in the 90s, what I liked (and still like) was there was values. No rudeness. No theft. No pettiness. No shitty behavior. No rip-off… I respect those values.
M[m]: Yes, I saw about that Bandcamp full of Vomir material- how did you resolve it & where you surprised when it happened?
Romain First I contacted the ‘falseVomir’, and I get stupid answers, as ‘ This is me Vomir’. I offered a settlement if we both be in charge of the Bandcamp to be a kind of archives with split money or everything free. I got no answer, just some bullshit. So I followed the different steps of the Bandcamp claim process for false identity and everything was settled quickly. I was very very surprised yes. I haven’t realized that my name could be used as a fraud source of revenue…
M[m]: The HNW Facebook group now has well over 3000 members, and seemingly the appeal of the wall noise scene has grown and grown over the years- what do you think appeals to people about the form, and what personally appeals to you about the form?
Romain Yes, amazing of so many people. Maybe because Facebook is the only place for it… Instagram no, twitter no… People may be appealed by this form of noise because it can focus on many aspects. HNW is minimalist but maximalist. HNW is no concept or full reference etc etc… also it can appeal because it is a niche, still a genre completely underground…
M[m]: Do you still closely follow the wall noise scene, and if so what have been some of the recent acts/ releases that have caught your attention?
Romain To be honest, I do not follow closely the Wall Noise Scene. As I do not follow closely any scene anymore. I more or less have glimpses, but I tend to focus more on an album, listen closely than to browse bandcamp..
M[m]: I know with your other projects you’ve dabbled doing more film focused work- have you ever considered creating a vomir short film?
Romain Difficult to say. As the film should be very abrupt. And I don’t want to reproduce the great masters of abstract cinema or even the Lettrist/situationist cinema… but I work on this idea and how to process a film who could fit.
M[m]: For a time you didn’t utilize the projects infamous black bag look in live performances, but I see you’ve now gone back to using it again. Why did you stop using it for a time, what made you re-introduce it again?
Romain First, because I couldn’t find 10liters black bin bag anymore. 10l is for the bathroom so it’s white or green etc… 10l is perfect to fit on a head. And the rolls are small, easy to carry (I am a bit of a control freak when I travel/perform so everything must be right). Now I find cheap bags from china, but they are very thin…
Romain Second because at one point, the bags were starting just to be a gimmick. And I just want to people focus on noise, not just coming to have fun putting a bag on. So, I played several times without bags. And I guess everybody felt the bags had no importance in the end. Nowadays it depends where I play. Sometimes I can go and see each person and give a bag, sometimes I can’t do it. But I like the bags. To give it. And then the performance. I consider my live sets as a kind of ‘performance’ really.
M[m]: Talking about Vomir live performers- has your approach to these changed over the years, and I know you used pre-record a wall for performances- is this still the case?
Romain My approach hasn’t changed through the years. I don’t carry 15kg of gear just not to touch it during the set (as I did for the first couple of years) and getting technical problems. I had a two tracks recorder/player, now I use my 8 tracks machine; each time 8 walls on it for the gig. During soundcheck, I can mix and adjust the walls so they fit the PA, and some EQ on the mainboard. I am sure this way I control my set, and I am always the sound guy best friend as my soundcheck is fast and easy (and if the PA resist the entire set…)
M[m]: If you answered yes to the above how do you go about selecting a wall for a certain show?
Romain As said, I prepare 8 walls so I have a good margin to adjust the final noise. I don’t really select particular walls. Whatever the PA, the audience, the mood, the noise is the noise.
M[m]: what are your feelings on the sub-genres of the wall-noise scene like ANW, DNW, lower case NW?
Romain No particular feelings. Some sounds are great, others don’t apply to me…
M[m]: Do you ever see they’ll be a point when you’ll want to end the Vomir project?
Romain For now, I really don’t want to end this project. I want to die with it. My noise is against.
And what about I am against is not ready to end, so…
Thanks so much again to Romain for doing the interview, and his continued & unflinching focus on creating the most extreme ‘walls’. Vomir’s web site is here http://www.reclusoir.com/, which also touch on Romain’s other project. Vomir’s facebook page is here https://www.facebook.com/vomirhnw, and the projects Bandcamp is here https://vomir.bandcamp.com/. And to pick up the recent 6 CD boxset head to Urashima here http://www.urashima.it/
Photo credits: Romain Perrot all but one- the 'bagged' photo is by Ludwig Furu (c)Roger Batty