Minute Walls

I already alluded to Minute Walls in a previous post dedicated to another social media only project, Santuario De Sangre. While Santuario De Sangre in many ways exhibits characteristics typical of any other online label – streaming format, static cover image, conventional album length, to name some – with its key difference being that it isn’t available on a platform typically used for streaming sound only (such as Bandcamp or Soundcloud), Minute Walls is a different enterprise altogether. It inhabits a space that is not typically used for full-on music releases, period – Instagram – and also does away with some of those more traditional remnants that Santuario De Sangre retains: there are no static cover images (the videos, in full, comprise the artwork) and the length for each release is dictated fully by the restrictions Instagram places on the end user, meaning that each track (including the label coda – more on this below) is only a minute in length.

Much conventionalism surrounding HNW has it that walls need to be long, and while examples to the opposite certainly exist (and have since the earliest days), it is certainly clear that, by far, most HNW releases tend to go for long form. Reasons for this may be manifold: the lengthier the wall, the deeper the immersion, it is sometimes argued. Another motivation may be that to achieve extremity in every dimension (not just in sound and imagery, for instance) the wall should pose a challenge to the listener also in sheer endurance. No doubt, most wall heads will agree that the more extreme releases in the genre are those that run to considerable length (an article on the longest walls can be found in the first issue of A Wall Of Text).

Minute Walls, in that respect, is a relatively accesible HNW venture, requiring of the listener no more than a minute of her time for each release (and, as it stands, no more than eight minutes for the full discography). And with the ubiquitousness of Instagram – those not having the app installed on the equally ubiqutious smartphones being the exception these days – accessing the material is very straightforward. Just follow Minute Walls and any new release will automatically pop up in your feed: digital, bite-size, short attention span-friendly walls amidst all your other social media needs! Of course, the true intent in using Instagram as a medium is, at heart, to provide a level of inconvenience. If anything, it requires you to keep your screen active (unlike YouTube, nowadays, Instagram does not have a ‘music service’ that allows you to listen to audio only) as the walls are not available in any other format other than as Instagram videos – and the fact that it requires the use of Instagram may (perhaps, should) to some be in and of itself an inconvience (necessitating either installing the app or accessing through a browser on desktop, where navigating away pauses the video). There is something of an irony – some will argue even a definite lamentable state – in the fact that a niche, outsider scene such as HNW relies so strongly on pervasive capitalist social media (and indeed, my own departure from major social media platforms is the reason Minute Walls has not seen a new release for a good while – what a bind!).

In any case, the creation of Minute Walls, and its brief curation, was an enjoyable challenge. I love working in short form walls myself, and Minute Walls (it may be evident that minute here is to mean both extremely small and a time unit of 60 seconds) provided the perfect opportunity. Additionally, in the vast majority of my projects the sonic and visual sides had always been of equal importance, with sound influencing artwork decisions, images providing inspirations for recording, a sort of symbiosis that Minute Walls provided the perfect context for to practice even more intensely. I set to work to create the first two releases myself, creating two walls and their accompanying videos for two special projects, Opaque and Okujo No Sukima Shiroi Sora. Both have distinct but recognizable sonic and visual identities (I’d be inclined to say): Opaque is dedicated as much to experimental walls on the harsher side of the spectrum as it is to down jacket appreciation, while Okujo No Sukima Shiroi Sora is a restrained, minimalistic project, with the walls generally being very minimal, and the artwork consistently presenting cleanly laid out stills from J-pop videos (the project name is derived from a brilliant song by Rev.from DVL) on oceans of white background.

The Opaque wall (Total Alpin Worship III, following the Total Alpin Worship tape and Total Alpin Worship II off the split with Le Bambole Di Velluto on Ominous Recordings) thus became a solidly crunching, lowly grinding wall that slowly crescendoed (well, within its brief running time, at least), accompanied by split-second flashes from videos of Julie Skyhigh in her trademark black Moncler Alpin. The Okujo No Sukima Shiroi Sora wall (Theoretical Frameworks Of Microharmony And Inharmonicity: The Effect Of Counterstructural Stereo Distribution And Perceptual Dissonance In The Context Of A Static Timbre Paradigm Superset) was a much more subdued affair that played with stereo sound, its video borrowing its imagery once more from J-pop videos – except, of course, moving images, as opposed to the stills of the project’s releases thus far. To impose a level of cohesion and label identity, I recorded a brief coda – this minimal, clattering crackle is heard at the end of every video for a few short seconds – which accompanied artist and title text overlaid over the last few seconds of the video, drowning out the sound and visuals of the visual wall itself.

The other Minute Walls included a few external contributions, with both sound and visuals provided by the artists themselves (save, of course, for the coda and title/artist cards): Barry C. Douglas‘ drony, rumbling Foggy Hills; Flesh Shuddering‘s abrasive Breath of Bass; Arturo Ferreira Mendoza’s uniquely organic 외로운 여행자 ~ Traveling North Hwanghae And Pyongyang and A Future Of Meaningless Tomorrows‘ minimal, eerie I whispered your name, but the wind of the night took your voice away. Each contribution was a perfectly idiosyncratic work that I felt very successfully married its approach to sound to its elected visual identity and made me very excited to feature more (were it not for my personal abandoning of social media for the time being). Having as much fun as I did putting together the first two releases, I recorded another two myself: The Congo Free State Was A Farce, A Brutal Regime Ruthlessly Exploited And Massacred Native Bantu Peoples, under the moniker of Congo Upheaval, a thundering wall overlaid with video of mercenaries in the DRC; and This Is The Last Time I Shall See Your Body, under the moniker of Rites Of Death, a crunchy wall accompanied by grainy fragments from one of Fuji Kikaku’s infamous Onna Harakiri videos.

At present, Minute Walls is inactive, though, of course, its discography is readily available (and at a mere eight minutes at that) through its Instagram page.

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