Sihir - Midnight Mystery [Ciel Bleu Et Petits Oiseaux Records - 2019]From May last year here’s Midnight Mystery- a C60 release from Sihir, Julien Skrobek’s more minimal/ stark noise meets lo-fi ambient project. The tape features seven tracks in all, and the tone/ feel is very much about creating atmospheric noise craft- which shows this long-running French noisemaker at his most moody-yet-oddly appealing.
Starting things off we have the spot on five minutes of “Open”- this is basically grey static- set into rushing & muffled sound mesh, like you’ve just awoken at 3 am & the TV is just hazed white-out- yet just at the edge of the haze there’s a very faint rumbling harmonics, but you can’t fully define its shape. Next, we have the seven & half minutes of “Visions”- here we carry on the muffled & hazed feel of the first track, with a rushing at times galloping grey drone tone underneath & at the edge of this you can just make out rapidly bubbling liquid textures & this sort of very distant swarming almost harmonic bell toll element….this whole track brought to mind descending into the seas murky depths at a rapid rate to find a lost town- where apparently the church bells still toll in the deep watery depths. Next up is “Dead Voices”, and this is the longest track on this side of the tape at just over the twelve-minute mark. Here we find a dry & blunt hissing tone- which is both sustained & subtle eerier, as the track progresses one's mind starts to quantify what the hiss is made up- and there’s a lulling churning purr & a more seared 'n' rapid mid-range tone which seems to be very, very slightly oscillating from time-to-time. Skrobek manages to make these seemingly stripped & sparse elements so compelling & entrancing, like ones, somehow become hypnotizing by watching rapid water pouring into a lightly grind waste disposal, towards the last three or four minutes of the track he carefully adds on another layer of subtle crackle which pulls you even more, as you just can’t make out its shape. Lastly on side A we have the five minutes of “Transmission”- and here we find a more formal, though still a lo-key bit of textured noise/ ANW- the tracks made up of a lose blend of hacking lows, rattling 'n' hissing mids, and thinner jitter crisp static roll- here Skrobek managers to create something that is both urgent, yet decidedly creepy & rather appealing.
Moving onto side B, and we have three more tracks- first up is the nearing seven minutes of the wonderfully titled “Hands Of The Spectre”. Here we find a rattling & juddering low-end blended with a constant jitter thinner static texture- together tones are pulled out into a semi- harmonic rumbling rush, which you can't fully define. Next is “Chemical Bath” and this slides in at eight forty-six mark- fitting its name the track has a nasty & slowly skin feast quality, as Skrobek brings together a tight & slight uneven judder, trailing static hiss, and wider bucking jittering. The side is finished off with the longest track here the just shy of fourteen minutes of “Flatline”-here we have one of the more formally pressing & intense tracks of the release, as Skrobek feeds out this churning-slightly- rattling machine-like purr. As we get further in one can make out we have two main tones here- a juddering/ idling low revving motor sound, and a buzzing like electro haze- together these creating a nicely head throbbing feel. This last track may not be a nuanced or carefully processed as some of the tracks here, but it’s once again most entrancing in it’s hovering & juddering sustain- in its last quarter we find some nice choppy sub-tones & deeper electro buzz been added to the whole, which nicely blurs & wanes the layers of sound.
Midnight Mystery most certainly shows why Skrobek is seen as one of the most talented & creative figures to appear from the wall noise scene. And once again, like a lot of his recent work, this release finds him just skirting the genre- so yes moments/ elements here could justifiably be called ANW/ low-key noise- but mostly he’s once again creating some very distinctive & original sound which defiles any one genre definition. As of writing both the label & discog are selling copies of this release, and if you followed Mr. Skrobek's career or enjoy moody-yet-unclassifiable work that sits loosely in the walled noise genre- you need this!.Roger Batty