No123noise/Naughty - Is Life Truly Beautiful? [Big Pharma Records - 2017]Is Life Truly Beautiful? is a two way split bringing together two twenty slices of walled noise. One track blends in elements of dark ambience, and industrial murkiness, while the second is a more formal example of ‘wall-craft’.
The unlimited pro pressed CDR appeared in April 2017 on Kansas based noise/experimental sound label Big Pharma Records. The CD comes in a standard jewel case, and this features a double sided sleeve- taking in overlaid symmetrical pattern based images. And we get a murky mirrored landscape on the back cover. All told a formal, though smartly presented release.
First up we have No123noise’s track, and this is entitled "The Beautiful Mistake Called Life". This project is from Texas, and has seemingly been active since 2014- I’m sure I’d heard the projects name in the past, but this track is the first thing I’ve actually heard from them. As mentioned in my opening paragraph this track is not pure ‘wall’, been more of an ambient/ dark drone- meets slurred ‘n’ murky industrial- meets ‘wall’ affair. It opens with a blend of muffled ‘n’ flicking drones, looped & slightly reverberation thunder strikes, and growing organic sub-rumbles. It’s not until around the 6th or 7th-minute mark, that the more ‘wall’ elements appear- and to begin with these take in fairly uniformed banks of juddering ‘n’ slightly skittering sub-tones, which are laid on top of the other elements. By around the mid-way point, these wall elements have become more pressing & pronounced, bringing in blunt-yet- flicking masses of slightly industrial edged wall texturing. On the whole, the track is certainly very mood & suffocating in it’s unfold, but at times I felt it all seemed a little muddled in its textural separation & clichéd in its used noise elements. As genre cross-blends go it's passable- it just doesn’t really sound very distinctive or that skilful .
Second up we have a track from Frances Naughty, this is the walled noise project of Thevenin (formally Skrobek), , which has gained a fair bit of praise in the ‘wall-scene’ over the last year or so. The tracks entitled "Fantasy", and is much more of a true & focused piece of walled-noise. It’s centered around a deep ‘n’ bone grinding bass drone, and this surrounded with a selection of focused ‘n’ sustained crumpling sub-tones. Though Towards the end we do get slight more cluttering feel to the grinding sub-tones, and this nicely amps up the feeling of crushing tension. The whole ‘wall’ is an effective blend of pitch black droning noise brood and entrancing/ hypnotic textural detail. Unlike the first track there’s a nice feeling of focus & mood here, and while it doesn’t become showy or clever in its textural pallet-the whole thing is most compelling, meaning that you want it to last longer than it’s twenty-minute runtime.
In summing up Is Life Truly Beautiful?- it’s certainly great to see labels putting out the un-limited edition of ‘wall’ releases, as this is the kind of thing that the scene needs to grow & expand. Because, as I’ve always said the ‘wall-noise’ genre deserves to be a lot big than it is, and I can certainly see it appealing to wider/ larger drone/ experimental scene. It’s just a pity that the release as a whole feels more than a little lopsided in quality- with the Naughty track far outshining No123noise offering. If both tracks had been of the Naughty tracks standard this would have easily got a four mark, but as it stands I’ve gone for a three instead.Roger Batty