Karl-Henrik - The Important Thing is the Effort, Not What We Ach [The White Visitation - 2021]
Karl-Henrik is a collaborative wall noise project between Thomas Pupuolo (Scarlet Diva, Celebrity Sex, Black Leather Jesus and more) and Sean E. Matzus (also from Black Leather Jesus, Thin Mountain, Thewwhitehorse, Obsession, [untitled] and more). This is their second release after a first tape in 2020. The project is inspired by Persona- the Ingmar Bergman movie from 1966 that tells the story of Alma and Isabel. Alma is a nurse who takes care of Isabel, a mute (Alma's fiancé is called Karl -Henrik, hence the project's name). The movie explores themes of identity, sexuality as well as possession.
The first track, ''Isn't it Better to be Lazy and Lax and Deceitful?'', starts with a squeal of feedback and a blast of noise. Multiple layers of sound are discernible, from the low rumbling bass to a beautiful drone that adds colour to the wall. These layers are quickly peppered with bird sounds. Birds are very important in Bergman's filmography, both as ambience and symbols of communication. In Persona Elizabeth is mute, and the bird chants could be construed as her missing voice. For the first few minutes, the sound seems pretty locked-in but, as with all well-made Wall Noise, the vertical composition tricks the mind into thinking that there is movement- when I believe there is none. The actual progression begins around the 4'30'' minutes mark when the textures get thicker and louder. It is with releases like this one that I like to draw a line between HNW (totally monolithic) and Wall Noise (Static sounds with variations or juxtapositions). I find that American wallers are more often in the latter camp but I might be mistaken as of course I don't know the whole scene. Anyway, the sound keeps evolving imperceptibly but if you fast-forward you will realize how carefully structured the track is, something that requires perfect control and knowledge of one's gear, as there is always the risk of repeating yourself when you work with static sound material.
''The Gulf Between What You Are With Others and What You Are Alone'', the second track, is louder and harsher. The squeal of feedback is present but it's a different one and this time it is repeated at (I think) regular intervals, which gives a nice Harsh Noise colouration to the whole thing. It gives way to more Industrial-type sounds that emerge from the background as if there was a machine working underground while the wall rages on the surface. Once again, things start to change around the 4'00'' mark as the textures tend to vary in volume and the Industrial sounds come to the foreground more. I think I can hear spectral voices kick in around the 7'00'' minute mark and at this point the track has taken a decidedly psychedelic turn, making useless any attempt to describe all that's going on. Better you let yourself be submerged, as you would with an Incapacitants track (I'm guessing the Japanese duo is an influence here). The last third of the second track is my favourite moment of this release. I don't know how much effort it took them, but their talent and experience have allowed them to achieve a great album.
In finishing The Important Thing is the Effort, Not What We Achieve, is a great second release from this project. And let us hope they are more releases down the line, as these two talented ‘wall’ makers work well together to create something distinctive with the Karl-Henrik project. To pick up one of the few remaining tape copies of this release or download a digital copy head here.Julien Skrobek