Various HNW projects - Space & Nature [Human Ignorance - 2011]
A heavyweight release here, on Human Ignorance, in more ways than one. This was originally released as three separate cassettes in a large, white, plastic case; however, in the interests of honesty, I should point out that my copy is actually the three tapes condensed onto two c90s, wrapped in the original artwork. Like all the Human Ignorance releases I’ve seen, the packaging is homemade, with a “scuzzy” aesthetic; but also made with clear thought and care. The same is true of the sounds and themes explored by those releases: those things in danger of becoming tired or mundane in other projects’ hands, receive a fresh, idiosyncratic treatment. The three acts sharing this release are: Wallkeeper, Blood Sacriifice and Dead Body Collection - that’s a lot of Harsh Noise Wall…
Things begin with Wallkeeper, who presents six tracks of varied, creative HNW crafting. There’s an excellent array of textures and colours on display here, as well as a good sense of track length. The first piece is based around a tightly compressed bass rumble, which eventually becomes a more juddering, dirty wall; the second is more twisting, modulating - with strange sounds buried within that are watery, or plastic, even? After a very crumbly track, with rattling mid-frequencies, the fourth piece is comprised of muffled, bassy bubbling; its very nice indeed. To be honest, I’m not a great fan of anything muffled - certainly not Harsh Noise Walls - but Wallkeeper challenges me here, and wins. Sometimes, the pronounced “bubbling” effect almost sounds slow-motion, compared to the burning low frequencies beneath it. The last two pieces both appeal directly to things I am a great fan of: crunchy HNW textures and unusual walls. The first of these is satisfied by the fifth track, which is indeed full of crunchy detail; and the second by the last track, which sounds akin to rain on a bucket - a very nice change in tone and feel.
Blood Sacriifice is next in turn and, with Wallkeeper’s subtlety and shades still echoing in the ears, things get turned to the opposite extreme. Entitled “Slaughter Ritual”, the tracks are both relentless assaults of noise; bordering on white-out. Two long, raging torrents, dominated by a scratchy blanket of higher mid-frequencies; which smothers at low volumes. With the speakers turned up, more detailed elements poke their heads through into audibility: there are traces of thick crackling lurking just beneath the white-out; and further down from this, submerged bass rumbles scrape along. At a few points the sounds jumps to one speaker, but - having also heard this happen on the Dead Body Collection side - I suspect its a technical defect with the cassette. It doesn’t detract from the unswerving, monolithic nature of the walls though.
Last, but never least, Dead Body Collection does what he does best: thick, bass-led walls of pummelling hell. So we get four tracks of sludgy, crunchy churn; all of which are named after geographical strains of the Ebola virus. Whilst there isn’t the more overt experimentation of Wallkeeper, there are many sections of rather odd panning. I say “rather odd”, because all the Dead Body Collection that I’ve heard previously, has been rather “straight” walls (not a criticism…). So, again, I wonder if the tape is a little dodgy… Speakers cut in and out, or take turns to vastly dominate the other in terms of volume. At one point, by playing the right channel (worryingly) loudly, I could hear a definite conversation taking place between women - but I couldn’t make out the sense of their exchanges. Away from these possible format defects, the tracks display the assured filth and scourging thats often associated with Dead Body Collection; with the fast-moving bass crunch rampaging, dragging mid- and treble scraping into sight.
As I said in the introduction, this is a heavyweight release. In its original form, it must have made an impressive and desirable box-set; but the sounds within still retain their weight. All three projects combine well to provide effective contrasts in approach and sound, whilst still operating clearly within the boundaries of Harsh Noise Walls. I suspect all physical copies of this are long gone, which is a shame; though this should hopefully encourage interested parties to keep a watchful eye on new Human Ignorance releases…
(Please note: Dead Body Collection has since confirmed that his tracks involved neither conversations or severe panning! These were imperfections of the review copy.)Martin P