Ecco - The Ghastly Ones [Cascading Fragments - 2014]Ecco is one of the more recent projects from the highly prolific & multi project linked French wall noise maker Julien Skrobek (The Killer Came From The Bronx ,Ghost, The Sandman Wears A Mask, Ruine, Butch Bag, Gasp, Ruine, etc). This project started off around late summer 2014, and sound wise it focuses in on very raw walled noise, which is apparently created by using radio static as a source. The project themes all of it releases around weird, perverse & violent grindhouse movies of the 60’s & 70’s.
The Ghastly Ones is the projects first release, and it appeared in early September on San Francisco based noise label Cascading Fragments. It came in the form of either a c30 cassette tape( which is sadly out of print), or a digital download- I’m review the tape version of the release.
The cassette its self features double sided black & white labels that take in series of blurred shapes/ static. And it comes in a clear plastic case that takes in a monochrome cover, on the front side we get the bands name & the release title in thin white writing over a complete black background, and on its reverse a series of large textured blocks & lines. All in all it's a fairly lo-fi & grim bit of packaging that fits the raw & unforgiving nature of theHNW with-in.
The release takes it’s name from the 1968 movie of the same name. The Ghastly Ones is one of the more known films of US grindhouse, sleazy horror & (unsexy) Sexploitation director Andy Milligan. The films plot revolves around Three married couples who are forced to spend the night in a Victorian-era house, where they get killed off one by one a deranged psycho who's bent on claiming an inheritance they are all entitled to. Through the plot sounds fairly standard, it’s fair to say you won’t have ever have seen anything quite like The Ghastly One- it features a cast of bickering & dysfunctional characters, who are dressed in low grade Victorian dress( made by Milligan himself). The film is shot in very lo-fi 60’s home movie style with dated stock music from the 40’s/50’s, the gore scenes are done in a over the top yet ultra low budget manner, and when these occur the camera it self often swirls around manically giving one the feeling they are watching some aged snuff movie. You can certainly see that Milligan's films are a product of the grindhouse/ exploitation market, but there’s something particular deranged & unequal about his take on movie making, and really there’s little doubt when you are watching one of his creations. So if you are a fan of trashy & lo-fi movies, and want to check out something very distinctive & deranged Milligan’s work is a must!
Anyway enough about the releases theme lets move onto the noise with-in. Each side of tape takes in a single 15 minute track, and on side A we have the track “Creatures Of The Night”. It opens with a sample from the film taking in dramatic & over-the-top stock music, and a female asking whose outside a door. Fairly soon the ‘wall’ comes in & it’s a wonderful murky, sludgy & dense affair- it’s built around a mid paced deep ‘n’ blurred rumbling mass, which is weaved with a taut pattern of crude ‘n’ crisp jittering static. The whole thing remains fairly firm & fixed in it’s feel, though from time to time there does seem very subtle shifts in both of the key elements, as one element seems to get more taut & pressing than the other(but of course this could be ones imagination). All told it’s a great slice of nasty 'n' sleazed walled noise that mangers to be both moorish & intense.
Flipping over to side B, and we have the track “Human Slaughter”. And once again it starts with a sample from the movie, we get the aged stock music, one women saying ‘Oh my God’ & another saying ‘I’ve never heard of such a thing’. Then with-in less than a minute the ‘wall’ has kick in & a it’s a wonderfully taut yet sleazed affair, which is centred around a thinned down low-end noise texture that is focused towards a low continual rumbling boil. Edged around this are two or three thinner crackling ‘n’ jittering textures and these follow roughly the same mid paced almost boiling dry focus. Once again the structure is fairly set in its feel, through times it feel like it might complete boil away- but it never does. All told it’s another very satisfying bit of walled noise.
All in all The Ghastly Ones offers up two crude yet highly appealing slices of walled noise. I can’t wait to hear what Julien does next with this project, and it's great to see one of Mr Milligan’s movies been used as a theme for this release, as I’ve always felt his work perfectly fitted the walled noise sound & ethos, and this release certainly proves that.