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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Charlie Chaplin - 1921 [Veil Tapes - 2021]

Here we have the debut release from Charlie Chaplin, the new wall-noise project from respected euro -bleak drone maker/HNW creator Damien De Coene. The release appears as a double C60 release on  Veil Tapes with the releasing taking in four side-long tracks.

Each of the two clear tapes features a black and white label on one side- with both tapes coming in long see-through tape case- this takes in black and white sleeve with stills from two Chaplin films from the year 1921- The Idle Class and  The Kid.  Not sure how many of these sets were made- but the label still has some left for those in the US, and Damien himself has copies for sale for those in Europe.

Unlike many of De Coene's recent projects/releases Charlie Chaplin is straight forward no-nonsense walled noise. And as a collection of ‘walls’ 1921 highlights how consistent he is at creating both entrancing and effective work in a more formal wall-noise setting. Most of the tracks here are fairly set/ unmoving examples of the wall form, though like the best of the genre  they featuring some rewarding audio illusions.

Each C60 tape takes in a ‘wall’ per side of tape, and each tape is themed around a certain Chaplin film from the year 1921.  So, tape one focuses in on The Idle Class- which features Chaplin as a tramp who sneaks into an upper-class golf resort. Here he meets a rich woman, who has been arguing with her drunken husband. Issues/ humour arise when she mistakes Chaplin us her husband. 
So, the first sides ‘wall’ kicks in with a knotty and at points blurring blend of mid-range judder and hacking, at points static edged belting. It’s a mid-pace affair, through the way the textures mix create this slowing and clustering effect that is most effective. I guess if I were to describe this initially ‘wall’ I’d say it sounds akin to an extremely muffled recording of a constantly pelt rainstorm heard through a corrugated plastic roof. By around the tenth minute the pace has seemingly sped up somewhat, with the textures starting to blend into more of a ragged ‘n’ dragging behind a car feel. In its last ten or so minutes I’m sure I can make out both more slowing and rattling tendencies, with the volume dying back slightly too- with more ragged and lose static judders seemingly appearing out of the mass, pull the whole pace of the ‘wall’ down… a line of crude more uneven judder appears in the last five minutes of the track.

Flipping over to the second side of tape one- and this ‘wall’ opens with a mixture of rapid clutter ‘n’ hack- it’s fairly similar tonal range/ textural feel to the first sides ‘wall’- though with a slightly more pronounced beaded and rattling roughshod feel to proceedings. And instead of slowing and clustering, this  ‘wall’ is seemingly speed-up, with both key textures racing each other, like large coins spinning inside the dryly roughed and crust-lined cement mixer. At the sixth minute mark the whole thing reduces to a more pared-back ragged- rattle, and if we’re using the coin analogy- it sounds like one coin has rolled out. Though this reduction doesn’t last long as both bass rattle and mid-range clutter start to build once again. With some nice more ragged ‘n’ ripped judders appearing in the last seven minutes of the track

The second tapes ‘walls’ are themed around the film The Kid- with Chaplin once again playing the tramp character who starts caring for an abandoned kid, but events put their bonding in jeopardy. The first ‘wall’ opens with a blend of rolling and billow bound drone- this is topped by a tightly skipping static jitter, which at points almost disappears.  By the seventh minute the drone seems to have moved to a mid-ranged skating quality, and more rapidly skittering static on top.  With the thinner more skittering grain reappears again in the last quarter of the track, with no real sudden shifts/ deviation with this ‘wall’.

Moving onto the final side of tape- this ‘wall’ is a blend of a rolling trolley like drone, and a skitter-to-tight jitter.  Together these elements create a feeling of stark end of the world droning, and nervy playful-ness. And this stands as my favourite of the four tracks here- due to its more firm focus, and the rewarding mix of grim drone from the abyss and nervy constant jitter- all making for a highly appealing/ Moorish wall, which I could have easily listen to at twice this length- so a good end to the set.

In finishing 1921 is a most worthy collection of more formal wall craft from De Coene. Let’s hope he’ll revisit this project down the line, as Mr Chaplin made lot more films, and I’m sure Mr De Coene has more rewarding texturally blends up his noise sleeves too!.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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