Clive Henry - XXX Colder [ KIKS/Girlfriend - 2014]U.K. based imprint KIKS/Girlfriend presents XXX Colder, by HNW mainstay Clive Henry. Colder was released in 2014 as a C60 cassette, in what I can only assume was a really limited edition. Clive Henry hails from the U.K. and is a rather prolific figure in HNW circles. I’ve often seen him referenced as a “progressive” HNW, which I’m not really sure what that means giving that wall noise is a genre dedicated to static sound. With that said, Colder is one hell of an odd duck.
Colder is one deceptively great release. To be honest it quite took me by surprise. I’ve always assumed that Clive Henry was strictly a HNW artist, so when I threw on Colder I was expecting a mammoth slab of HNW. However, what actually precipitates on 60 minutes of magnetic tape is most strikingly not wall noise. Side A starts off with the track “Cold Pillow,” which flows like a droney piece of manipulated field recordings. The track begins with sounds of clanging empty glass bottles or wind chimes perhaps. An eerie resonance takes shapes, sounding like winds blowing through hollow objects. These sounds drone on in steady repetition. Several minutes in, a bustling bass tone rumbles in the backdrop mingling with some minimal cracking and popping. I thought “here we go,” expecting the rumble n’ crackle to build up into a furious wall, displacing the haunting beauty of wind chimes (or something sounding akin to). However, that never comes to fruition. That potential wall rumble stays quite distant, as delicate clangs and windy wails drone on.
If “Cold Pillow” was a somewhat calm offering, the following track “Cold Heart,” is its stark opposite. The piece begins with nails on the chalkboard potency. The sounds of ungreased metal parts turning and squeaking, drone in repetition. While the opening track lacked buildup, this piece builds to a feverish pitch of swarming noise chaos. Through the track’s trajectory, I also hear some synthy hum worming its way in the back ground. The swarming mass of noise hits a crescendo and abruptly ends on a thin line of buzzing.
Side B further distorted my expectations of Mr. Henry’s output. The opening salvo, “Cold Air” is a mangled melange of tape manipulation. The piece sounds like layers of human voices sped up, slowed down, garbled up, and spit out. After a brief dip of silence, we hear chirping birds cheerfully sing. Once again these sounds get mangled up through the meat grinder. Sounds of broken up walkie talkie communications are distorted, broken up, and possibly digitized. The track gets sparsely populated and minimal in parts; focused random unitary sounds here and there. A final grouping of distorted voices come together like a chorus of kazoos before another lapse of silence (I believe this is the line of demarcation where the final track,“Cold Sleep” begins). The final piece sounds like the chirping of robotic birds, reminding me of Bubo the mechanical owl from Clash of the Titans. The chirping is random at first, but then coalesces into an almost rhythmic pattern. A strange end to a rather strange tape.
Colder is great, but weird release by this rather prolific noisician. HNW purists might find this one to be a little too far off the reservation, but I enjoyed it through and through. Progressive might just be a label bandied about, but if the shoe fits...Hal Harmon