Harsh Noise Wall needn’t be all about fetishism and murder. It can also be about clever science fiction concepts, books and movies, and have a psychedelic twist. Or perhaps it can’t, but now it can.
When Serbian “dr. Alex” closed the doors on his well established Harsh Noise Wall project Dead Body Collection in April 2016 there were probably a few people who wondered what he would do next. It didn’t take long for him to make it perfectly clear what he would do next, as Kosmodrom (actually, Космодром) was established not long after. Since then, Alex has put out a number of tapes, the first of which, Destination Moon, set the tone and created the template which he will probably follow for the duration of the project. The present tape, It Came From Outer Space, was recently released by Slovenian SMRT Productions, and is well deserving of an in-depth review.
Already with Dead Body Collection, it was clear that the confines of the genre, tight indeed when it comes to HNW, if you want to do it right, didn’t sit that well with Alex. While there are numerous DBC releases with the usual themes (murder, odd sexuality, etc), there were some that really stretched the conceptual bounds of HNW culture. With Kosmodrom, that tendency has sort of detonated into something new entirely.
Each of the Kosmodrom tapes, It Came From Outer Space being no exception, comes with a pro-printed, two sided color cover. While that might seem like a strange observation to make before even commenting on the music, there is a method to the madness here, so bear with me. Each cover features a suggestive image, always with a science fiction theme of some kind, and a list of the particular influences that have been at work in Alex’s mind at the creation of the given tape. In this case, the list includes the movie of the same title as the tape itself, the Hawkwind album Alien 4, as well as a host of other goodies.
Including such a list with a HNW release is very clever. The “music” itself is devoid of samples and vocals, while the listening experience (“free” from normal tonal qualities and musical conventions) is also very malleable in relation to the listeners preconceptions. Shaping these by including information such as this is almost necessary, if one wants to have some kind of context beyond the noise itself. Only through cover art and well chosen song titles could anyone associate the minimalistic crackling of certain The Rita releases with shoe fetishism, and the “Inspiration for these recordings”-section of the Kosmodrom covers is just taking that idea one step further.
Granted, Kosmodrom also does things with HNW which could possibly annoy purists, of the type made famous by Harsh Noise Wally. It Came From Outer Space is no exception, and while there’s no question of abandoning or subverting the genre for its own sake, there is innovation aplenty going on here. The basic wall crunch is there most of the time, but there is an almost constant layer of various “solo instruments” playing throughout – flangered or quasimelodic elements that complement and at times break off the actual wall. The sci-fi influence is actually very clear, from sound alone, which fits very well indeed with the aforementioned list of inspirational cultural artifacts in the cover. Kosmodrom could probably be used as a soundtrack for some kind of neoreactionary black and white science fiction movie, or perhaps simply be edited into the soundtrack of an already existing 40s or 50s classic that may be lacking in the sound department?
The whole setup gives a depth to the music which is quite rare in the HNW scene, and it makes perfect sense to call this “Harsh Noise Wall with content”. All Kosmodrom releases are obviously ultra-limited, but most are available in some form or another online.