Various - The Small Hours Goodtime Hour [Vagary Records - 2015]
Here’s a walled noise comp from late summer 2015, which had a rather surprising & bizarre theme to it- Easy Listening!. The release came in the form of a C60 cassette, and took in three ‘wall’ artists per side of tape, with each doing their tribute to a genre, that is really at the other end of the sonic spectrum from their own.
The tape appeared on Vagary Records in August 2015, in an edition of just 15 copies. These took in a pro printed/double sided cover, which featured on it’s front a selection of 1950’s like cartoon drawings of easy listening players. And on the reverse we get a cartoon like night cityscape, which once again hints at the swing/ easy-listening type vibe. The tape inside is clear red, with a sparkly effect to it, added to this the cassettes case shell is red too…all in all making it a rather distinctive & fun bit of packaging.
The compilation was curated by respected UK wall maker James Killick; who of course is no stranger to utilizing different/ non-dark/ quirky themes within walled noise, as he’s behind such projects as: Love Katy( themed around US female pop star Katy Perry), Pooh( themed around that most famous of bears), Carrie ( around county pop singer Carrie Underwood). Along with releases based around Kermit The Frog, and the Clangers( British stop-motion children’s show from the late 60’s/ 70’s). Sadly release this is now long, long gone- somehow this release had fallen though through one of the cracks( that sometimes appear) at m[m] HQ, and should have be reviewed a long time ago…..anyway I guess better late than never!.
So first up on side A we have a track from Greeley Colorado project The Ebony Tower. Their track is “Girl From Ipanema”- which of course is a classic slice of bossa Nova & jazz based easy listening from 1952. The track has been covered by many over the years, and really will be recognisable to most people for it slowly bobbing ‘n’ slight jiving vibe-led melody. The track opens with an untreated sample of said easy-listening track, but fairly soon the wall craft rises up & obliterates it. The ‘wall’ starts off with a taut and searing rush of dense low-end juddering noise texturing, but as it progresses more controlled & shifting layers of buffeting, rumbling, and jittering noise sheeting are added over the initial layer- with the whole thing taking of this sort of slurred & brutal darting dance. Ever so often I can make out the sample flitting though the churning mass of the track, and this seemingly pushes new plates of textural matter out. Over the last few years this project has been focusing on lengthier, dense, yet layer detailed walled noise mostly themed around works of fiction. So it’s really interesting to see what he can do in a shorter sonic lengthy (at just over the nine minute mark), and it’s certainly a little different from what one is used to hear from the project, but it’s no the less a interest tribute to this easy listening classic.
Next up on side A we have a track from Fairfax US based Titanica- this is the more recent project of the mind behind BBW women themed wall noise project Gluttoness( which was active in the early 2010’s). And who also set up the HNW graveyard site; which posted out-of-print digital downloads of lost classic slices of ‘wall’ craft.
Their track is “The Pendulous Hypnosis”, and opens with sound of lulling sea sounds, some slow twanging Hawaiian guitar, onto top of some slowed orchestration - the whole sample is fed out in a woozy & melted manner, which becomes more & more so as it progresses. Then just when the sample has slowed to an almost stop, a rise of thin ‘n’ slightly spluttering, jittering & juddering grey static texturing risers up, as this grows one can make a beaded low-end churn underneath, and this has quite a low gear like throbbing motor feel about it. As the track moves on the throbbing purr becomes more pronounced; with the thinner static elements skittering around it. All in all the tracks an effective bit of brooding & detailed ‘wall-craft’ with a more ANW leaning to it.
Next up we have Mr Killick contribution to release, and here he’s under his Small Hours banner. His track is entitled “In-between The Heartaches”. And it opens with a very woozy & melted sample of male & female sung easy listening…& slowly but surely the ‘wall’ risers up above the sample. To start with it has just a juddering/ deep ripping tearing feel to it’s patter-nation, but as it moves on Killick brings together deep ‘n’ coarse low end strips of texturing patter-nation, with thinner sways of buffeting ‘n juddering sub tones. The whole ‘wall’ is subtle & skilful shifted as it progresses, and really it’s a great bit of more active yet still focused noise-making. I’d say this stands as one of my highlights here, and slows why Mr Killick is thought of so highly with-in the scene.
Flipping over to side B, and first out of the door we have a track from Minneapolis based Cory Strand entitled “Summer Wind”. And this once again starts with a woozy & melted sample- this time it’s from rat-pack type tune, and slowly but surely Mr Strand adds in layers of juddering, buffeting, and billowing noise to the sample- until the whole thing really disappears in a slurred yet roasting storm of stretched noise buffet ‘n’ rage. The tracks ok, I guess, but I felt it wasn’t some of Mr Strands strongest work. When he wants to he can skilful bend songs elements/ soundtrack cues into something quire unique & effective, and with this track it just felt like he was going through the motions.
Second on side B we have a track from The Man With Icy Eyes- this is one of the projects of Florida noise scenester Hal Harmon. His track in entitled “we’ll meet again”. And as expected it’s based around the old stranded we’ll meet again….the sample drifts in on a uneven sonic air, and fairly quickly the ‘wall’ risers up. It’s a fairly cruel & cold blend of chopping/pelting yet tight low-end textured, that’s edged by slightly crisper & scouring static sub-tones. Though-out the first half of the track you can just still make out the sample, but as time passes it fades back with Mr Harmon’s ‘wall’ rising to it’s cold hacking height. I’d say this track another highlight of the release, as I really like the cruel & coarse feel of the ‘wall’, and it’s an effectively nasty contrast to the hopeful vibe of the original track.
Last up on side B we have a track from Oregon based She Walks Crooked- it’s entitled “Eternity in Your Eyes”. And it takes a different tact from the other tracks here, as instead of starting with a sample it kicks straight in with ‘wall’. This blends together a thick constant ranging/ billowing sway, with selection of rattling ‘n’ sweeping subtones. As the track progresses it seems to slowly but surely slow down & thin back, though this is happening at a extremely slow rate, and as it does I’m sure I keep hearing waveing samples of Listening easy matter, then in it’s last few mintues a slice of French female 60’s pop matter appears fully.
All in all this is a very nicely presented & thought-out comp, with each contributor coming up with their own tribute to the easy-listening genre- going from the playful, though to corrupting, onto the mimicking( though in an extreme way). I can’t say I was totally taken by all of the tracks, but I very much appreciate the attempts of wall-artists trying to pay tribute to the easy listening genre. As mentioned above this, is long out of print…so you might get luck & find a copy on discog, otherwise hopeful it will reappear in some form or another in the future. Roger Batty