Nar/Avmakt - Eskapisme [No Label - 2014]Here’s a split from two stalwarts of the hnw scene, Nar and Avmakt (Andreas Brandal). The cdr’s packaging is incredibly simple, with just a glossy card insert and a sprayed disc. The insert is oddly beautiful, with just messy track titles on one side and a fantastically cryptic collage on the other - its a genuinely wonderful image. Nar offers forth one track, whilst Avmakt presents two; all are titled with roman numerals: ‘I’, ‘II’, and ‘III’.
The Nar track, ‘I’, is really great, and it feels somewhat unusual too. Although I haven’t heard every Nar release, I have heard a few and I associate the project with brutal, ‘heads down’, unchanging walls. ‘I’ fits into that category, apart from one element: the fifteen-minute track is carried throughout by a rhythmic, circling motion. Its an unusual ingredient to find in a wall track - indeed, at points I found myself questioning whether this had crossed over into harsh noise territory - but it works incredibly well. It moves throughout the piece at a relentless pace, akin to sped up tidal waves. Around it, Nar creates a rattling, almost ‘hollow’ wall - the whole thing sounds like the workings of some infernal, noisy device.
The Avmakt tracks also blur the line between harsh noise and wall noise. ‘II’ begins with frenetic, clanging, junk noise, followed by slowly encroaching noise textures; after a passage with crescendos, a wall of saturated noise overwhelms the entire track after the four minute mark. The wall is mid-frequency strong and almost a wash - though it contains some nervous rhythms; after a brief cut to more junk sounds, the wall textures continue, until they are replaced in the dying seconds by a high-pitched drilling or rattling sound - possibly a field recording of street works. ‘II’ starts with a lo-fi recording of clacking machinery (or what sounds like it), but within a minute, it has shifted, in stages, into a full-blown noise white-out. Its not a strict wall, per se, since there is constant movement inside it: surges of noise, junk sounds, frequency shifts. This speeding blast of noise is cut short, in the last few seconds, by more subdued junk bashing.
This is good little split. The Nar track grabs my ear the tightest, and is probably one of the best pieces of hnw I’ve heard for a very long time. The Avmakt tracks suffer, from my view, for being a little too washy and blown-out - as far as the wall-esque sections go. The junk noise passages are great and definitely engaging, but when they open out into the noisier sections, they become less articulate and detailed. However, I’m criticising them very much from a hnw point of view; persons more into harsh noise will have a different opinion, I think. Certainly a release to track down, but restricted to fifteen copies, I’m afraid…Martin P