Varrst - Respect Your Colors [Claustrophilia - 2012]
Its not often that you get a piece of metal included with a review cd (though, actually, this is the second time in my reviewing career), but here it is: a piece of aluminium with “VARRST” scratched into it. It accompanies a jewel case cdr, adorned with biker and Hells Angel imagery, on the Claustrophilia label. Two long tracks of noise, noise, noise; each weighing in at just under half an hour.
Both tracks could be considered as rather static, texturally aware, Harsh Noise; but I conceive of Varrst more as very active Harsh Noise Walls - from the American school, rather than the European, if you will. The bulk of the pieces are fast, rough and abrasive - there’s a “take no prisoners” approach, and a weighty physicality too. Indeed, most of the sounds appear to be generated through physical manipulation of objects, as opposed to just letting a pedal chain and noise generator run. This, naturally, lends itself to greater dynamics and colour than the “minimal-pedal-twiddling” route; but also promotes a much more chaotic overall sound. So, sections blast through the speakers with little rest, with moments of contemplation being few and far between. This lack of concentrated textural exploration, is made up for by the sheer array of textures on offer; there’s really all manner of colours here: savage treble fizz and crackle, scourging mid-frequency crunch and low-end overload - not to mention shrieking feedback trails and semi-drone sections. The tracks certainly move through more textures and sounds than most HNW compilations do throughout their entire length; rarely resting for too long on any one. This makes the few moments of respite all the more glorious. There are some really quite incredible passages where the tracks “breathe” for a while; pulling back from the surging noise to either reveal sections of detailed textures, or just plain eeriness. At the very end of the first track, “dffl”, there are a short few seconds where the chaos clears to reveal shadowy crackle, dancing in a bed of rampaging mid-frequencies whilst a whistling tone hovers overhead. Its the kind of thing that would entrance over the course of a thirty-minute, “static” track; but here it has be grabbed and savoured - all the more delicious for its ephemerality. (Curiously, the same textures are revisited near the end of “dscemf”…)
This is a very solid release. It’s not one for static wall purists - indeed, I suspect many might consider Varrst’s tracks to go beyond Harsh Noise Wall boundaries; but for those who favour their walls to be unrelentingly savage and aggressive, “Respect Your Colors” won’t disappoint. The two long tracks are overwhelmingly kinetic and abrasive, with little recourse to stasis; though “dscemf” has longer sections of feedback drone. Whilst there’s intelligence and deft manipulation to be found here, these are not tracks of studied textural detail; they are, however, certainly walls of rampaging, surging noiseMartin P