New Opaque: Total Hudson Worship

On February 21st, a new Opaque was released, Total Hudson Worship. It consists of a single track of 39 minutes and 19 seconds of pure HNW. It can be considered – as may be evident – both a continuation of the recent slew of releases centered around the Moncler Hudson, as well as an entry into the different Worship series, both the various Total Alpin Worship releases (the original, the second entry and the third entry) as well as the extensive Moncler Worship series, consisting of a current total of 29 entries of 10 minutes each.

You can listen to Total Hudson Worship here.

End of year lists 2021

Another year has flown by; here are some of the things that I enjoyed immensely in 2021.

My favourite music of 2021, like in years prior, was a mixture of music released in 2021 and music released earlier which I only discovered or really got around to listening to this year. While I feel 2020 was primarily a year of songs, 2021 was a year of songs and albums; as such, a list for both the best songs I (re)discovered in 2021 and the albums I enjoyed most this year. Two notes of interest: two Bad Gyal songs (despite my usual and entirely arbitrary rule to feature each artist only once), one a recent official release, one a brilliant older track only to be found on YouTube; somehow, despite certainly having listened to A Promise before, Apistat Commander didn’t really hit home until this year, but then it really, really did, and as such made it to the list as a new discovery (something somewhat similar happened to The Microphones’ II. Solar System). The full list – in a somewhat lazily construed alphabetical order – is below.

Bad Gyal – Slim Thick
Caroline Polacheck – Hit Me Where It Hurts
Clipping. – ’96 Neve Campbell
Crying – A Sudden Gust
Elysia Crampton – Petrichrist
Full Of Hell – Armory Of Obsidian Glass
Himera – It’s U (Pearl Version)

Hitsujibungaku – ghost
Liturgy – HAJJ
Luna Kaguya – NEW ERA
Nick Hook, Mi$$il, Lao – Tardes de Verano
Patricia Taxxon – Brightest
Rakky Ripper – Coyote
Seiko Oomori – 私は面白い絶対面白いたぶん
Slayyyter – Over This!

TECH GRL – Mejor Sin Ti
The Microphones – II. Solar System
The Mountain Goats – The Slow Parts On Death Metal Albums
TUYU – Compared Child
Utada Hikaru – 誰にも言わない
Wasuta – 雨のキモチ
Xiu Xiu – Apistat Commander

Of the albums listed below, some have an album track featured as one of my favourite tracks above; for others, however, my enjoyment of the album has been an immersive experience in which I found a selection of any favourite track impossible – hence not necessarily full overlap between the artists featured on the list of songs and those featured on the list of albums. With some semblance of order imposed, the list is posted below.

Liturgy – H.A.Q.Q.
Clipping. – Visions Of Bodies Being Burned
Crying – Beyond The Fleeting Gales
放射性Hi5 – 9.0水面下Megathrust
Full Of Hell – Weeping Choir
Code Orange – Underneath
Otoboke Beaver – Itekoma Hits
Utada Hikaru – 初恋
Sintel – Top Ten most Epic fish of all time
DJ Hardvore – Princess Lumina’s Dance Party (Starring Barbie as Princess Lumina)
Elysia Crampton – American Drift
Luna Kaguya – ×××
Giant Claw – Mirror Guide
Bad Gyal – Warm Up
Sueuga Kamau – Como El Viento, Vuelo

Some other musical things of note: Stickerbush Symphony, a track that that garnered fame as a checkpoint on YouTube, really resonated with me this year despite not having any nostalgia for it (I’ve never played the game) and was ambient tapestry for plenty of work days; the Bad Gyal YouTube nightcore rabbit hole is absolutely worth getting lost in; pawning off physicals as soon as they appear on Spotify bit me in the ass, because they can disappear again, too (Palace’s Arise Therefore, specifically, I had sold last year, and so I found myself having to buy it again this year); there wasn’t much in K-pop that excited me, but I found a lot of little gems in J-pop.

For reading, 2021 was definitely a good year, shattering last year’s record 55 books by this year’s neat 100 (I am currently 500 pages into Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 but don’t expect to finish the last 400 pages today) – and a diverse bunch of it, with some hefty tomes being part of those. Needless to say, not everything was equally brilliant, though I managed to drag myself through even those works I found less exciting (even the absolutely soul-crushingly boring The Light Garden of The Angel King by Peter Levi – beautiful title, horrible book) save but one – about halfway through The Book Of Disquiet, I shelved this collection of writings that despite all their supposed brilliance came off as little more than writings one might have encountered mid 00s on some teen’s MySpace. Perhaps, of course, this lack of appreciation is not so much The Book Of Disquiet’s fault but rather my own; equally, the way in which I attempted to read it – cover to cover – was perhaps also not best suited to it. However, I’ve not looked back and am currently not particularly keen to, either.

Fortunately, there was a lot of beauty to be found, too, both among the fiction and non-fiction works I read. The novels that left a most lasting impression this year were David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Paul Auster’s The Music Of Chance and Sayaka Murata’s two translated novels, Convenience Store Woman and, especially, Earthlings. I also read through the entirety of Matt Haig’s fiction oeuvre and found The Humans and The Midnight Library in particular to be pleasant, enjoyable reads.

The non-fiction I read was diverse, and much of it fantastic. I delved into North-Korea, reading a host of defector’s memoirs, as well as Barbara Demick’s excellent Nothing To Envy, the equally fascinating The Great Successor by Anna Fifield and the great and insightful The Real North Korea by Andrei Lankov.. I also started exploring the oeuvre of Svetlana Alexievich, truly an amazing voice (or, rather, multitude of voices) in her niche. Chernobyl Prayer was perhaps my favourite of her works I’ve read so far; devastatingly beautiful and absolutely harrowing at the same time. I also read more Kapuscinski, whose The Shadow Of The Sun I found especially captivating this year (and whose The Emperor reminded me of Alexievich). Other non-fiction works I found particularly impressive this year were bell hooks’ Ain’t I A Woman, Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons Of Math Destruction, Meredith Broussard’s Artificial Unintelligence, Angela Y. Davis’ Women, Race and Class, Loung Ung’s First They Killed My Father, Christopher McDougall’s Born To Run, David Foster Wallace’s Consider The Lobster, and, last but not least, Michael Pollan’s amazing Cooked, which I found, in addition to a wonderful book about food and cooking, to be inspirational and instructive regarding life in general. Without further ado, the full list:

  1. Margaret Morris – Left To Our Own Devices
  2. Gabrielle Jackson – Pain And Prejudice
  3. Ryszard Kapuściński – The Shadow Of The Sun
  4. Emily Nagoski – Come As You Are
  5. Iris Bohnet – What Works
  6. Peter Levi – The Light Garden Of The Angel King
  7. danah boyd – It’s Complicated
  8. James A. Moore – Chaos Bleeds
  9. Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein – Data Feminism
  10. Aaron Michael Kerner and Jonathan L. Knapp – Extreme Cinema: Affective Strategies In Transnational Media
  11. Mark Adams – Meet Me In Atlantis
  12. Frans de Waard – This Is Supposed To Be A Record Label
  13. Sara Wachter-Boettcher – Technically Wrong
  14. Christopher Golden – Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Watcher’s Guide
  15. Mary L. Gray and Siddharth Suri – Ghost Work
  16. Cathy O’Neil – Weapons Of Math Destruction
  17. Monisha Rajesh – Around The World In 80 Trains
  18. Zeynep Tufekci – Twitter And Tear Gas
  19. Meredith Broussard – Artificial Unintelligence
  20. Modes Of Criticism 4: Radical Pedagogy
  21. Angela Y. Davis – Women, Race And Class
  22. Virginia Eubanks – Automating Inequality
  23. Dr Paul Julien – Kampvuren Langs De Evenaar
  24. Angela Y. Davis – Are Prisons Obsolete?
  25. Barbara Demick – Nothing To Envy
  26. Kanae Minato – Penance
  27. Yeonmi Park – In Order To Live
  28. Kanae Minato – Confessions
  29. Hisham D. Aidi – Rebel Music
  30. Paul Theroux – Deep South
  31. Matt Haig – The Midnight Library
  32. Matt Haig – The Humans
  1. Anna Fifield – The Great Successor
  2. Hannah Bervoets – Wat Wij Zagen
  3. Kang Chol-Hwan – The Aquariums Of Pyongyang
  4. Matt Haig – How To Stop Time
  5. Lola Olufemi – Feminism, Interrupted
  6. Matt Haig – The Dead Fathers Club
  7. David Foster Wallace – Infinite Jest
  8. Matt Haig – The Possession Of Mr Cave
  9. Cormac McCarthy – Blood Meridian
  10. Eunsun Kim – A Thousand Miles To Freedom
  11. Matt Haig – The Last Family In England
  12. Hyeonseo Lee – The Girl With Seven Names
  13. Zahra Hankir (ed.) – Our Women On The Ground
  14. Frantz Fanon – Black Skin, White Masks
  15. Matt Haig – The Radleys
  16. Darcy Lockman – All The Rage
  17. bell hooks – Ain’t I A Woman
  18. Thomas Pynchon – Against The Day
  19. Chuck Palahniuk – Fight Club
  20. Michael Pollan – Cooked
  21. Thomas Pynchon  – The Crying Of Lot 49
  22. Ryszard Kapuściński – The Emperor
  23. Svetlana Alexievich – Chernobyl Prayer
  24. Masaji Ishikawa – A River In Darkness
  25. Arata Kanoh – The Place Promised In Our Early Days
  26. Lieve Joris – Op De Vleugels Van De Draak
  27. Nick Hornby – Fever Pitch
  28. Kenzaburo Oë – Voetballen In 1860
  29. Svetlana Alexievich – Last Witnesses
  30. Irene Vallejo – Papyrus
  31. Sayaka Murata – Convenience Store Woman
  32. Sayaka Murata – Earthlings
  33. Ryszard Kapuściński – Travels With Herodotus
  34. Raymond Queneau – Exercises In Style
  35. Hannah Arendt – The Freedom To Be Free
  36. Leslie T. Chang – Factory Girls
  1. Thomas Pynchon – Bleeding Edge
  2. James Joyce – Dubliners
  3. Herman Melville – Moby Dick
  4. Ryszard Kapuściński – Nobody Leaves
  5. David Foster Wallace – Consider The Lobster
  6. Jennifer Wallis (ed.) – Fight Your Own War
  7. Greg Sestero & Tom Bissell – The Disaster Artist
  8. S.D. Perry – Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles
  9. S.D. Perry – Resident Evil: Caliban Cove
  10. Christopher McDougall – Born To Run
  11. Thomas Pynchon – Mason & Dixon
  12. Stuart Stevens – Malaria Dreams
  13. Jang Jin-Sung – Dear Leader
  14. bell hooks – Teaching To Transgress
  15. Carson McCullers – The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter
  16. Dennis Cooper – God Jr.
  17. Svetlana Alexievich – The Unwomanly Face Of War
  18. Samrat Upadhyay – Arresting God In Kathmandu
  19. Chuck Palahniuk – Rant
  20. Koji Suzuki – Ring
  21. Koji Suzuki – Birthday
  22. James Baldwin – The Fire Next Time
  23. Junichiro Tanizaki – Het Geheim Van De Heer Van Musashi
  24. Andrei Lankov – The Real North Korea
  25. Makoto Shinkai / Asahi Akisaka – 5 Centimeters Per Second + Children Who Chase Lost Voices
  26. Paul Auster – The Invention Of Solitude
  27. Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
  28. Paul Auster – The Music Of Chance
  29. Christina Figueres & Tom Rivett-Carnac – The Future We Choose
  30. David Spiegelhalter – The Art Of Statistics
  31. Sherwood Anderson – Winesburg, Ohio
  32. Loung Ung – First They Killed My Father

Finally, here is an overview of the works I released this year, with particular thanks to the people who worked hard to release those beautiful physicals: Petar, K., Thomas and Eric.

  • Aisha Kandisha – This Blood Drenched Succubus, She Possesses The Black Waters, Haunts The Shadows, Eats The Skin Of Men (digital, Santuario De Sangre)
  • Demon Cabal – Through The Halls Of Eternity (digital, Santuario De Sangre)
  • Opaque – Black Duvetica Diadema (bizcard, self-released)
  • Opaque – Black Moncler Hudson II (C40, Field Strike)
  • Opaque – Duvetica Heze Yellow Hooded Puffer Jacket (bizcard, self-released)
  • Opaque – Ienki Ienki Michlin Arctic Blue Foil Jacket (C40, Fall Into Void Records)
  • Opaque – Moncler Armoise Volume I (bizcard, self-released)
  • Opaque – Moncler Armoise Volume II (bizcard, self-released)
  • Opaque – Moncler Armoise Volume III (bizcard, self-released)
  • Opaque – Moncler Armoise Volume IV (bizcard, self-released)
  • Opaque – Moncler Doas Iridescent hooded quilted shell down jacket (bizcard, self-released)
  • Opaque – MONCLER WORSHIP VOLUME 29 (digital, self-released)
  • Opaque – Pink Duvetica Diadema Nylon Down Jacket (C45, Veil Tapes)
  • Opaque – Vanessa Hong In Black Moncler (bizcard, self-released)
  • Opaque/Scarlet Diva – Split (C20, Summer Interlude Records)
  • Outerstellar: Music For The Mirror Image Of This Universe (digital, Absent Erratum)
  • Sven Kay – Patricia Taxxon’s Brightest Sunrise Dembow Flip (digital, self-released)
  • Sven Kay – Post-Perreo 5 (digital, self-released)
  • 𝘸𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘴𝘸𝘦𝘱𝘵.𝘸𝘢𝘷 – i’m not alive, i’m an echo (digital, Absent Erratum)
  • 공중부양 – The Humming Of Stones (digital, Absent Erratum)
  • 屋上のスキマ 白いソラ – 003 on Various Artists – Red Cheeks (digital, Aquatic Boy Band)
  • 斎藤 裕 · 長澤 まさみ · 西山 清 – Legend Of Ereganzia 「エレガンジアの伝説」 ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK (digital, Absent Erratum)

See you next year!

New Opaque: Black Moncler Hudson II C40 (Field Strike)

On November 21st, the excellent Field Strike released a new Opaque tape, Black Moncler Hudson II. The tape features a single track of 19 minutes and 50 seconds and was issued in an edition of 30 on marbled lilac tapes (the same tapes were used for the HNW tape swap release Duvetica Diadema Princess). The wall featured on this tape starts at full blast and, over the course of its almost 20-minute runtime, slowly deteriorates into utterly minimal crackles and pops. The lay-out and design for this release were done by myself.

The careful reader will notice that, indeed, this tape is called Black Moncler Hudson II – which does not, in fact, make it the follow-up to 2020’s Moncler Hudson (although, of course, it is a follow-up in spirit). Rather, Black Moncler Hudson II is the follow-up to the yet-to-be-released Black Moncler Hudson – which is in the works as of yet but of which I will publish more details when the time is right. In any case, this explains this release’s particular title.

Being, nonetheless and of course, a follow-up in spirit to the aforementioned Moncler Hudson, this is another release which is dedicated entirely and whole-heartedly to the evidently stunning Moncler Hudson, which has managed to easily yet surprisingly catapult itself to the top of my favourite down jacket list, perhaps even surpassing the amazing Moncler Alpin, which had always undoubtedly been my undisputed favourite. In October, the Hudson was made available again for this year’s winter collection, and it is presently available in black (the dark grey is entirely sold out). I recently added it to my own collection, and it is absolutely glorious.

You can listen to and purchase Black Moncler Hudson II here. I will also have some copies available myself soon; feel free to contact me if you’re interested.

Absent Erratum: 공중부양 – The Humming Of Stones

공중부양 ⛰️ The Humming Of Stones is the 47th release on Absent Erratum. This submission features one track at a total of 47 minutes and 59 seconds. It was released on 19 December 2021.

Absent Erratum hovers just above the dust and the pebbles, a shaded static occupying the space between her skin and the soil; soundlessly, she summons the wandering spirits, their names only audible to flowers, winds and sunsets – tenderly, she caresses them as they settle beside her – nimbly, she collects the scents and colours that coil around her body. In this garden of light, everything is sacred and nothing is forgotten: every stone is a monument, every breeze is a temple. Here, every breath lasts forever.

You can listen to The Humming Of Stones here.

New Opaque: Opaque/Scarlet Diva Split C20 (Summer Interlude Records)

Today the excellent Summer Interlude Records, run by Thomas Puopolo of Scarlet Diva and a slew of other excellent projects, such as Male Slut Society and Fistfuck, released a split C20 featuring Opaque on the A-side and Scarlet Diva on the B-side.

The Opaque track is a stuttering, clattering wall that is dedicated to a wonderful recent Moncler design, the elegant Rhin, which has been available in pink, yellow and – as featured here – black. The B-side features an excellent Scarlet Diva wall with a great, deep yet detailed crackle. The tape was released in an edition of 25 copies and features a J-card designed by myself, combining trademark features of Opaque artwork – down jacket picture, Helvetica type – and Scarlet Diva artwork – layout, background, its photograph.

You can pick up your own copy of the split tape through the Summer Interlude Bandcamp, and, of course, you can also listen to the release in full on the Summer Interlude Bandcamp right here.

Absent Erratum: liz – second skin \ enveloppe

liz ✉️ second skin \ enveloppe is the 46th release on Absent Erratum. This submission features one track at a total of 40 minutes and 0 seconds. It was released on 15 September 2021.

Absent Erratum drags translucent, weightless relics of a wall along the floor behind her, insomniac and elegiac, the faint thuds and drums of shuffles, trailing, footsteps merging, then emerging as a spirit of clay and sound: stretched thin and bound to Earth, terrestrial undertones surrounding her private place amidst bricks and secrecy. An awareness presents itself to her, mingled with the scent of plums and apricots; a tenderness nests itself into her chest, recursive, embedded endlessly into itself; a ritual is established, lovingly, performed in times and places unlit and unsounding; her task is to guard what is ancient and primitive – to shield it from the light.

You can listen to second skin \ enveloppe here.

Santuario De Sangre: Aisha Kandisha – This Blood Drenched Succubus, She Possesses The Black Waters, Haunts The Shadows, Eats The Skin Of Men

On 13 September 2021, the fifth sacrifice of Santuario De Sangre was released to YouTube, This Blood Drenched Succubus, She Possesses The Black Waters, Haunts The Shadows, Eats The Skin Of Men by Aisha Kandisha.

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.