Beyond harsh noise wall as it is presently understood, there is the somewhat more dynamic genre of harsh noise. It’s been around longer, and it has always been non-music, but there’s a lot more going on than in your average, Eastern European high-quality wall construct. Writhe is an American band, released on tape by Finnish label Supreme Analog Torture Records. Writhe plays harsh noise. And pretty great fucking harsh noise, at that.
The initial track sets the tone. Rumbling bass crunches that go straight to the gut, combined with the harshest imaginable distortion create something that almost resembles a rhythm. It lasts only for a little over two minutes, before “Inside” unleashes a far more treble-based, white noise assault on the ear drums of the listener. If the latter finds this somewhat unpleasant or unsettling (and it gets rougher as the track moves along), he can always rest his ears a little bit as more bass based, border line HNW interludes break the track off. But only for very short moments at a time – this is almost pure eardrum abuse. The third composition “Hopeless” falls somewhere in between the first two, and goes for a more wall based approach, though with a different audio profile. These shifts keep on coming, as the tape progresses.
The eleven tracks on this cassette cover the whole harsh noise spectrum. Some tracks come close to just being intentionally disturbing, and as someone who stopped watching new horror movies 15 years ago because I found they were just unpleasant, I can’t dig that. Those tracks are exceptions, though, and most of the time, this is great noise. It has the right crunch, the right analog-digital balance, and no self-righteous, shitty message of the type that only the very greatest industrial acts can even come close to pull off pushing.
The titles are more than a little generic (“Lost Forever”, “Memories”), but if they mean something to the creator, they certainly take nothing away from the well constructed feedback/distortion attacks. The cover features two hands, one white and one black, desperately clinging together, so I assume there’s some idea about togetherness going on, though I really can’t connect the cover to the titles, let alone the noise.
One interesting aspect of harsh noise is of course that the music is so very unrelated to whatever concept or idea the creator wishes to express that such ideas are always conveyed by the artwork and the titles. Plainly said: if each and every song title on Forlorn would have been a racial slur it wouldn’t really have felt (aesthetically) out of place. As things stand, there is little reason to worry about such matters. This is solid noise, from a project which has spent time to make each track count – utilizing different methods and modes of working for each single one. This is stable stuff, available on audio cassette from Supreme Analog Torture Records, or for pay-what-you-want download from the band’s Bandcamp page.