Shurayuki-hime – Yamakawa Kikue

A 10CDr box of harsh noise wall, limited to 10 copies, will raise some suspicions. It has long been my view that Romain Perrot of Vomir has a special license to produce senselessly lengthy, static HNW releases. His particular relationship to massive, unchanging noise wall means that all pure Vomir releases are, as it were, chunks cut out of his personal crypto-spiritual use of noise in his “everyday” life. The world doesn’t really have an infinite amount of space for people releasing hours of static distortion sounding exactly the same the whole way through. Cynical as I am, I had a strong suspicion that this immense box set by Shurayuki-hime would be just that – utilizing some 100 copy price break on professional CDr burning, and then just dividing it into piles of ten each. It would have been very HNW, but perhaps not overly interesting.

Pleasantly enough, this is not at all the case. While the CDrs each contain precisely one hour of mostly unchanging noise walls, the difference between the disks is profound and exciting (well). Not only that, but Shurayuki-hime is not afraid to allow the walls to change and develop. To be sure, there are no blast beats, melodic saxophone or funky 80’s synthesizers, but things do happen during the course of each 60 minute wallfest.

The first wall is a point in case, beginning rather calmly, and then buildning slightly, possibly through nifty use of EQ, possibly through the introduction of additional layers of noise, until it settles for a mid-intensity structure, marked by a rather controlled interplay between fuzz and bass. The second CD (all of the “songs” are untitled) begins with crushed, snapping and almost glitchy crackles, reminiscent of latter day The Rita. This continues throughout, but as the track goes on, a static and almost entirely uninterrupted wall fades in slowly. It remains somewhat in the background for a long time, with its wet, soft air creating an interesting contrast to the sharp, butchered noises. After a while, it dominates the sound picture completely, but the original sounds remain, now serving to give the wall texture.

This overall principle – densly and cleverly layered walls – continue throughout the massive boxset. It would be completely out of place to say that the noise is constructed to keep your interest – if you don’t enjoy HNW, you won’t enjoy this – but there has been thought and work put into this. The third disk has more of an edge than its predecessors, and with disk 4 we’re on truly harsh territory, as we are assaulted by a massive piece of bass mangling, fuzz riddled distortion very much in the vein of Sleep Column or other Sandakov projects. With disk five we get another mixed bag, with choked crackles meeting bass rumblings in a rather intense piece. Disk 6 keeps the bass going, for a track that is static and non-dynamic enough to sound somewhat like a slightly more relaxed Vomir. Seven goes for another glitchy crackle/bass combo, and while the difference is sometimes difficult to articulate, it is worth remembering that none of these anti-songs sound exactly the same.

The 8th disk is my favorite, with a rather lengthy intro sounding like a fully developed harsh noise wall in and of itself. Things then slowly intensify, as one or more additional sonic layers slowly insert themselves into the sound. For a long time an intense but controlled wall keeps unfoldning, only to slowly begin its descent back into the original, relatively low-key mode of the intro. On disk 9 there’s a rather uncommon bass sound, which actually has a techno bass drum vibe, even if it is hidden behind harsh noise to such a degree that it is difficult to know if it is in fact of musical origin at all. Whatever the case might be with that, this is another intense HNW track, with great chunks of distortion piling on top of each other. The 10th and final track and CD brings the whole shebang full circle, with a track that exhibits several similarities to the first one. Once again, a calm introduction intensifies into a more powerful sound, holding your attention through a mid-intensity noise storm which then – true to the genre – ends mid non-note.

The understandably high price for this release has (at the time of writing) kept it available to any HNW-head who may feel inclined to partake, despite the limitation. If you’re in the mood for a broad variety of almost, but far from completely, unvarying harsh noise wall, you would do very well to consider purchasing Yamakawa Kikue from The Level of Vulnerability. If you don’t have the finances for the box set, or when it’s sold out, you can of course go for the digital download.

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