Vast Glory - Self Titled [Lake Shark Harsh Noise - 2011]
This self-titled tape comes wrapped in what I assume is the standard Lake Shark Harsh Noise packaging: a folded piece of card with the label logo on the front, and a woman adjusting her stockings on the back. Sharks and stockings: two well-documented interests of Sam McKinlay, best known as “The Rita”, who runs the Lake Shark Harsh Noise label. Inside this outer, we have a pro-printed cassette and a paper insert with two landscape paintings on it; images which could well serve as guides to the Harsh Noise Wall terrain of Vast Glory.
The first, and most apparent, thing that strikes you about the cassette, is the explicit sense of composition - not just the construction and contents of the walls themselves, but also the way in which the walls are combined and deployed. This is not a release that sounds like someone created a wall and then “filled up” a tape with it. The tape starts with “biscuit tin” treble scraping - two stereo-split streams of rattling rain, intermittently tumbling out of the speakers. One of these appears to be a loop, whilst the other is more constant and slow; methodical, even. After several minutes of this, a denser wall of similar crackling textures rises up very cautiously underneath. So, from the off, the tape displays an enhanced (and quite unusual, at that) notion of structure and composition. When the walls finally break open, so to speak, it feels like a fast flowing stream rushing by. Whilst the overall sound leans towards the treble frequencies, there’s a nice billowing low end lurking underneath; which remains as the rest of the elements accelerate towards white noise. Even within this almost smothering wall, Vast Glory still commands detail; with juddering ghosts of crunchier treble buried in the blizzard.
As well as superlative composition, Vast Glory also has a firm grip on texture and sound. The initial “white-out” of the second side is quite disorientating - a heavy blanket of trebly white noise which, on further inspection, reveals hidden layers of compressed and straining torrents. This actually cuts to dead silence near the twelve minute mark; before a wall of fantastically detailed mid-frequencies creeps forth, a couple of minutes later. From thereon, the track grows into a quite beautiful ensemble of walls; with maybe three or four of varying speed, intensity and colour. All of them are wonderfully crafted, with isolated frequencies flickering and stuttering; showcasing Vast Glory’s careful attention to texture and wall construction.
This is simply a great tape. It’s a superb and inspiring piece of work, which is the clear result of thought and care. There’s a genuine sense of a journey travelled, of movement and development; whilst still remaining within the “boundaries” of HNW and exploring that territory rigorously. As far as I can tell, this is the debut release for Vast Glory; I certainly hope this quality is maintained.Martin P