In my 2020 interview with Böse Mann for his webzine Creeping Concrete, I briefly spoke about Santuario De Sangre, its concept and inception. This YouTube-only label was created based upon a public question put forward by Paul Dever (of, among other projects, the excellent GRIZ+ZLOR) about whether there were any (HNW) projects or labels that existed only on social media. I ultimately took this as the inspiration to start Santuario De Sangre – with due deference to the originator of the idea, as it was certainly not mine – a, thus, YouTube-only label that is in some ways similar to Absent Erratum – it also features only releases by one-off projects – but that thematically instead focuses on “occultism, dark religion, ritualism”. (As a side-note, I’ve since also started an Instagram-only label, Minute Walls, for which I will write a post at some point, too.)
On 6 April 2021, the fourth sacrifice – as the releases on Santuario De Sangre are all referred to – was released to YouTube, the hour-long Through The Halls Of Eternity by Demon Cabal.
2021 has started off as a productive year for Opaque, with a number of prospective tape releases in the near future on various labels and a handful of self-released bizcard CDrs just released. The bizcard CDrs were made available in two batches. The first was released on 18 March and featured four bizcards with a 5-minute track on each: Vanessa Hong In Black Moncler; Black Duvetica Diadema; Duvetica Heze Yellow Hooded Puffer Jacket and Moncler Daos Iridescent Hooded Quilted Shell Down Jacket. Continuing much in the vein of other recent releases, the emphasis is dived evenly between Moncler and Duvetica. The walls presented here range from sparse crackles to full-on wall blasts, as inspired by the materials that provided their themes and which was then further reflected in the visual design: ambient crackling and pink hues for the gently iridescent Moncler Daos, rapid and harsh blasting for Vanessa Hong In Black Moncler – taking inspiration from the shiny, belted, mega-puffy jacket, vinyl pants and heels, and further reflected in the bold type and aggressive orange of the visual design.
The second batch of bizcards was released on 26 March and also featured four bizcard with a 5-minute track on each: Moncler Armoise I, II, III and IV. Evidently, this whole batch was inspired by the magnificent Moncler Armoise model – so further delving into the Moncler obsession professed in series both dedicated to the brand as a whole (the previously concluded Moncler Series trilogy and the ongoing Moncler Worship series) as well as the microfocus on specific models (the various iterations of Total Alpin Worship spread across various releases and formats, all dedicated to the Moncler Alpin). The visual side of the Moncler Armoise series is defined by a singular format (distinguished only by the colour schemes and, of course, the pictures), of which the microfocal particularity also extends into the naming conventions, using the same titles for each of the tracks, which detail the exact make and composition of the jacket. There is certain potential for extending the series with further volumes. The CDrs of this second batch were hand-stamped with an Opaque stamp.
The first batch of bizcards is sold out. Some copies of the second batch of bizcards are still available through the Opaque Bandcamp. Of course, all releases can also be streamed there.
𝘸𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘴𝘸𝘦𝘱𝘵.𝘸𝘢𝘷 ⚱️ i’m not alive, i’m an echo is the 43rd release on Absent Erratum. This submission features one track at a total of 28 minutes and 46 seconds. It was released on April 29, 2021.
Absent Erratum projects her song into the empty sky above the sea, where it soon comes to rest on fragments of light, then sinks down and blankets the sand, hushed and swept under. Aeons pass as all that lives wilts, as all that is solid crumbles, as all that is known is forgotten; finally, when she finds herself alone amidst flat fields and still waters, in view of the final shore, her lost song trembles its way back into her memory as it is lifted from the dusty floor. In that last, halcyon moment, its melody of ashes invokes a ready reflection: “i’m not alive, i’m an echo”.
To wrap up the year, some lists on the things I did and enjoyed this year.
Plenty of excellent music was released, and I also discovered plenty of amazing music from years prior. I keep track of all the stuff I discover during the year and don’t at all distinguish whether or not it was released in that year as it is absolutely irrelevant, imo. At the risk of forgetting a slew of amazing things (there were so many), here’s 15 songs I first heard this year and blew me away, and that you should totally check out (and, of course, that already leaves out so many… Mariposa, Gameboy, Riot…).
Like every year, I also kept track of everything I read and attempt to average out to a book a week (I managed in 2019, but fell slightly short in the years prior). This year I read 55 in total – a diverse bunch, ranging from contemporary children’s literature and travel journals through classic Japanese literature to various works about gender and feminism and a French journalist’s detailed analysis of the political and social contexts of the conflicts in the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi in the 1990s. Not everything was brilliant, needless to say – though I don’t force myself to finish for the sake of finishing, and there wasn’t anything I couldn’t finish – but there were some absolute gems in here that stood out head and shoulders. These were Helen Winternitz’ East Along The Equator, Ryszarr Kapuściński’s Another Day Of Life, Caroline Criado Perez’ Invisible Women, Susan Schaller’s A Man Without Words, Lieve Joris’ Dans Van De Luipaard and Junichiro Tanizaki’s Stille Sneeuwval (translated into English as The Makioka Sisters).
Lieve Joris – Mali Blues
Susan Schaller – A Man Without Words
Tom Nancollas – Seashaken Houses
Paul Auster – Oracle Night
Kōji Suzuki – Spiraal
Lucy Crehan – Cleverlands
Lieve Joris – Dans Van De Luipaard
Phil Harwood – Canoeing The Congo
Helen Winternitz – East Along The Equator
Adam Weymouth – Kings Of The Yukon
Jennifer Bakody – Radio Okapi Kindu
Chuck Palahniuk – Choke
Adam Mars-Jones – Monopolies Of Loss
Hideo Yokoyama – Six Four
Kathy Acker – Blood And Guts In High School
Mark Fillet – Zaïre
Ryu Murakami – Audition
Thomas Pynchon – Inherent Vice
Ryu Murakami – Piercing
Barbara Greene – Too Late To Turn Back
Ryu Murakami – In the Miso Soup
Hideo Furakawa – Horses, Horses, In The End The Light Remains Pure
Ross Welford – The Dog Who Saved The World
David Kerekes & David Slater – Killing For Culture
Ross Welford – The Kid Who Came From Space
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Tales Of Terror & Mystery
Yoko Ogawa – The Memory Police
Bill Bryson – The Body: A Guide For Occupants
Robert Graysmith – Zodiac
Leslie Jamison – The Empathy Exams
Makoto Shinkai – Weathering With You
Italo Calvino – If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller
Michael Crichton – Sphere
Safiya Umoja Noble – Algorithms Of Oppression
Jaron Lanier – Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now
Daphna Joel & Luba Vikhanski – Gender Mosaic
Ryszarr Kapuściński – Another Day Of Life
Charlie English – The Book Smugglers Of Timbuktu
Jaron Lanier – You Are Not A Gadget
Kato David Hopkins – Rumors Of Noizu: Hijokaidan And The Road To 2nd Damascus
Chuck Palahniuk – Pygmy
Bill Bryson – Made In America
Lieve Joris – Zangeres Op Zanzibar
Kenzaburo Oë – Schreeuwen In De Nacht
Paulo Freire – Pedagogy Of The Oppressed
Caroline Criado Perez – Invisible Women
Laura Bates – Everyday Sexism
Kenzaburo Oë – De Knoppen Breken
Audre Lorde – Sister Outsider
Yukio Mishima – Het Gouden Paviljoen
Yukio Mishima – Een Zeeman Door De Zee Verstoten
Cordelia Fine – Testosterone Rex
Yasunari Kawabata – De Schone Slaapsters
Junichiro Tanizako – Stille Sneeuwval
Colette Braeckman – De Wortels Van Het Geweld
I don’t keep particularly meticulous track of the movies I watch (and always chide myself for it in the end), so I have no complete record of my viewing this year. Nonetheless, I saw some excellent things. I attended the International Film Festival Rotterdam and saw three films: Takashi Miike’s new First Love, Ann Hui’s 1999 Ordinary Heroes and Kim Yong-hoon’s Beasts Clawing At Straws (this final film was introduced by its director). Due to Covid, of course, I wasn’t able to visit the cinema much for the rest of year, but just prior to our first lockdown I saw the B&W version of Bong Joon-ho’s brilliant Parasite, and for my one other visit to the cinema, when they were open, I saw Masayuki Suo’s (extremely mediocre) Katsuben! (known here as Talking The Pictures). The rest of my viewing was done exclusively on DVD. Since I don’t keep track of my viewing, there are some movies I am not 100% sure I watched at the beginning of this year or at the end of last year but that deserve mentioning nonetheless: Shinji Aoyama’s excellent Eureka (which I had owned on DVD for about 15 years and had never seen), Thierry Michel’s Katanga Business and Takashi Miike’s Gozu (easily his best for me). Outside of that I was utterly in love with two long-form works: Hu Bo’s An Elephant Sitting Still and Wang Bing’s Tie Xi Qu (how is it that so much of this man’s work is available on the French-language market and so little on the English-language one?). I also began to delve into Jia Zhang Ke’s oeuvre (Ash Is Purest White, Still Life, Mountains May Depart and A Touch Of Sin, the first two being my favourites), saw three of Diao Yinan’s films (toss-up between Black Coal, Thin Ice and The Wild Goose Lake, both excellent) and saw Tsai Ming-Liang’s Stray Dogs and Journey To The West, which fascinated me so much that I began tracking down a bunch more (which isn’t easy, but I have some on order now).
Below is an overview of the things I released this year. I will update this list with links where possible over the next few days.
A r g o n U l t r a A p h e l i o n – R a d i a n t Q u a d r a n t T e t r a l o g y (digital, Absent Erratum)
Arturo Ferreira Mendoza – 외로운 여행자 ~ Traveling North Hwanghae And Pyongyan (video, Minute Walls)
Atlantis Princess – Live At Aquaria Towers (Wild Lights Volume 1) (digital, Absent Erratum)
Congo Upheaval – The Congo Free State Was A Farce, A Brutal Regime Ruthlessly Exploited And Massacred Native Bantu Peoples (video, Minute Walls)
Death Press III – Death Press III (re-issue, C60, Unbelievable Black Magic)
Death Press IV – Death Press IV (re-issue, C60, Unbelievable Black Magic)
Eisheth Zenunim – Angel Of Prostitution, Emissary Of The Hell King (video, Santuario De Sangre)
Little Fictions – Territory Of Light (C30, Small Worm)
屋上のスキマ 白いソラ – Theoretical Frameworks Of Microharmony And Inharmonicity: The Effect Of Counterstructural Stereo Distribution And Perceptual Dissonance In The Context Of A Static Timbre Paradigm Superset (video, Minute Walls)
屋上のスキマ 白いソラ – A Sonographic Model Of Coordinated (Non-)Harmonious (Non-)Harmonic Stasis: A Systemic Aural Inquiry Into Permutational Paradoxes (digital, self-released)
屋上のスキマ 白いソラ- Indirect And Direct Auricular Effects Of Alternating Interval-Panned Sound Signals At Low Respontial Frequency Ratios (digital, self-released)
Opaque – Black Moncler Badyfur (digital, self-released)
Opaque – Total Alpin Worship III (video, Minute Walls)
P R E D A T O R 3 D – S U D D E N L I G H T S U D D E N D E A T H (digital, Absent Erratum)
Rites Of Death – This Is The Last Time I Shall See Your Body (video, Minute Walls)
Sven Kay – Post-Perreo 2 (digital, self-released)
Sven Kay – Post-Perreo 3 (digital, self-released)
Sven Kay – Post-Perreo 4 (digital, self-released)
死の商業化 – デスファイル Ｂｌａｃｋ (re-issue, C60, Unbelievable Black Magic)
Xruelty And The Xeast – L E G I O N (digital, Absent Erratum)
All Koni Demiko releases – for which the Bandcamp was somehow deleted without notice – were also re-uploaded to its new Bandcamp page with all new artwork.
I also released the first issue of A Wall Of Text, a paper magazine dedicated entirely to HNW. I was very happy with how it came out and the reactions I received from others. I am currently (slowly) working on a second issue. I have a few copies left of the first issue (less than 10); get in touch if you’re interested.
Finally, a word of thanks to the people who have in some or other way helped me, inspired me, supported me in all my creative endeavours: among, certainly others, these include James, Paul, Damien, Byron, Julien, Thomas, Petar, everyone who collaborated with me, contributed to A Wall Of Text, to Absent Erratum or to Minute Walls, everyone who bought anything off me, be it a tape or a digital release – I deeply appreciate all of it. Thank you.
My first release in 2021 (today) was a new Post-Perreo mix, the fifth instalment in the series. Like all the other entries in the series (save for the (flawed) first) it is available on my Soundcloud page. It features some more popular cuts by artists such as Tomasa Del Real and Isabella Lovestory, but also offers some deeper cuts by, among others, Ink Midget and Jags. All in all, I think it came out well and continues the vibe that the fourth entry had started to dig into.
On November 23, a new Little Fictions tape called Territory Of Lightwas released as a C30 through Small Worm, James Shearman‘s wonderful imprint for “experiments, mishaps, rummaging, field recording, grievous chaotic din, rabble-rousing, wall noise, Styx ferryman whistling tunes, children’s rhymes in dead languages, animal mating calls, number station remixes and anything else”. James had asked me to contribute a while back to his label to become part of the inaugural batch. Finding the right form and shape for what ultimately became a new Little Fictions release was a lengthy process that went through many different shapes and forms before settling into what it currently is.
James’ explicit invitation to join the Small Worm ranks was an implicit invitation to myself to once more immerse myself in the experiments I had once undertaken under the WOW WAR TECHNO and Super Mario Bros. monikers. I have been active recordings for these on and off through the years, initially motivated by a desire to feel less confined by the boundaries of the sounds I had found myself somewhat entrenched in (Opaque was another such venture, started for much of the same reasons). This initially resulted in a flurry of digital and physical releases (the anniversary of my 100th release was celebrated in part by the physical release of 5 WOW WAR TECHNO releases on tape), though I eventually found myself once more chasing much the same types of sound and delving less into the types of sound rummaging that Small Worm encourages.
Territory Of Light, thus, was prefaced by finding form, again – which was an interesting exercise in and of itself, as it pushed me in directions newly unfamiliar and newly familiar. The process took me through a variety of forms and sounds, in which I revisited designs, themes and approaches which I had previously attempted and abandoned. As such, this then-unnamed project took on a host of possible names, shapes, identities: it was the ambient of Ambient 5: Music For Killing Fields; it was the decayed electronics of Sneeuwval; it was the fuzzy hiss of Korean Cosmetics. These unidentified forms were plagued by a restlessness; the wealth of possibility the project offered became almost intimidating, allowing for such infinite possibility that I had trouble establishing what exactly I wanted it to be.
In this process of uncovering and recovering, I unearthed another project that I had once worked on but which had never taken on any definite form. In 2018, I visited Seoul with my girlfriend and my sister. It was July and the heat was incredible; pavements shimmered, dry air hung still in palace gardens, the smoke curling from grilled meats disappeared into the ambient heat of sweltering nights unnoticed. The week was like a fever dream, our trek through a relentlessly warm Namdaemun market on the first day setting the tone for the days to come, driving us to escape into airconditioned spaces when possible, the differences in temperature sometimes like being plunged into an ice bath. It was an unforgettable, amazing experience, the memories of which I cherish I perhaps more than those of any other journey I’ve been on.
It was this constant shock of temperature changes that gave my girlfriend a throat infection, after which she ended up with an actual fever that kept her in bed for our second-to-last day in the city. My sister and I took the opportunity to find refuge in the vast, spacious building of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. I recorded our journey through the building as we weaved in and out of halls and rooms, capturing the stray sounds of exhibitions, announcements and visitors that echoed around us. The recordings I intended to issue on tape through Void Worship. I had edited down the recordings, designed the art – done the work, pretty much – but soon found myself actively immersed in other projects, as a result of which the idea of the tape disappeared into the background. Only when James suggested a Small Worm contribution, it sprang back into life.
The Small Worm tape, however, as it finally took shape, did not develop into what it was from the field recordings. Instead, it was a field recording I made from the other side of the world, from the comfort of my own home, where, as I sat reading one day, a faraway storm rumbled its way towards me, rain slowly beginning to drip-drop onto the grass and balconies around me. I quickly took to recording this storm, which ultimately remained gentle – the rumbles of thunder stayed far-off, the rain fell slowly and languidly. The tail end of these showers, with some manipulation, became the third track of the A-side of the tape, Submerged. The first two tracks were designed to share the sonic character of the third track somewhat, though the process for them was different – I recorded two walls and then recorded them – field recording style, I am sitting in a room style – while moving through the space in which I played them. Together, they came to form this trilogy, of sounds summoned, sacred and submerged. In some respect, the A-side became a callback to the two Little Fictions releases I did before this one: Love & Girls was also a room recording of a previously recorded wall, River Spirita manipulated recording I made of a rain storm.
The choice to feature the field recordings I had previously made in Seoul then seemed natural. It functioned both as a complement and as counterbalance. Side A was a field-recorded approach to hiss and crackle, ambient, captured in the presence of spring rain; side B the field-recorded document of sweltering heat and refuge taken thereof, the hiss of spacious, empty hallways. There were, for me, clear ways in which there were significant similarities in approach, setting and sound as well as valuable contrasts. All that was missing, finally, was the overarching theme – the way in which it was to be expressed. Territory Of Light, in retrospect, seemed to be the only possible title. It has a wealth of references encapsulated in it – to the ambient spaces in which the recordings were made; the light bursting forth from clouds amidst spring rain; those lights covering the mountains and streets and buildings of Seoul at the various times of day and night; the making of a territory, both in the physical realm – by defining it – and the sonic realm – by capturing it. It also is a reference to the novel of the same name by Yuko Tsushima, which conveyed a familiar sort of feverish light that illuminated all its pages and words – fragile, unreal, yet corporeal.
Territory Of Light was released in an edition of 10 copies. While these are now sold out, you can freely stream the tracks on the Small Worm Bandcamp.
I was recently interviewed by Michael Tau about Absent Erratum for Anomaly Index. Anomaly Index is a great website which frequently posts interviews with people involved in fringe experimental projects (or some of their releases), among which, for instance, The Rita, Atrax Morgue and Fukte. You can read the full interview here.
And out now: Opaque – Moncler Hudson, a new digital release comprised of a single 15-minute track focused on the magnificent Moncler Hudson coat. An absolutely amazing FW 19/20 down jacket that is available in four colours – white, grey, beige and black – of which the black is easily the most magnificent (although the beige is also fantastic). The images, in that respect, may speak volumes. Hyper-focused crunch obsession.
Many a noise artist is no stranger to an absolute preponderance of aliases, name variations and obscurely secret projects; they reflect subtle or larger style differences between them, entirely different thematic or musical approaches (and an obsessive engagement with them), collaborative or collective efforts, or, sometimes, mere whimsy. The use of numerous aliases can be an act in its totality: the sheer web of intricate untraceability that is so woven creates the impression of an enormous beast that is hard to ever take in fully, whose infinite limbs shoot off outside your peripheral vision, whose body is contorted and constantly contorting, whose presence is multidimensional, rock solid and fleeting, volatile at the same time. Parallels can be drawn to the strength in numbers that some apply to releases; I can recall Phil Blankenship of The Cherry Point remarking something along the lines about a flurry of The Cherry Point releases that were not only, or especially not, individual works, but whose totality constituted a work in itself. In the digital sphere, of course, such an approach has become remarkably easier (and therefore much less remarkable), and a large body of work by itself may no longer constitute such a transgressive act, though the argument that a mass of works supersedes the value of the individual works may still stand (I think the controversial Nosferatu 1922, despite its hundreds of releases, can pretty much be considered to be a single work).
I’ve also previously touched on the possibilities of HNW as a narrative genre. This can be considered an added dimension to the wealth of considerations that can be behind excessive alias usage. Using a different alias affords more ease in adopting a different voice, the establishment of a narrative or universe which is unaffected by an artist’s other efforts, unencumbered by prior themes, techniques and aesthetics. While some artists will feel perfectly content unifying extremely disparate sounds and approaches in a single oeuvre, many prefer curating a whole host of micro-oeuvres. Even if the functionalities of a database such as Discogs make it a lot easier to go down the rabbit hole and gather much sooner a total view of a particular artist’s micro-oeuvres, which arguably somewhat runs counter to the efforts of excessive alias curation on part of the artist, even it does not by default present an artist’s entire output in a single overview. The illusion, therefore, remains somewhat intact.
In the nearly 20 years I have spent in harsh noise and related genres and styles, I have also adopted numerous aliases, some more enduring (Opaque has been running for a decade) and some larger in scope (Panic has drawn inspiration from horror movies, war, pop stars, video games, and so on), but many much more restricted and confined to their own, singular (thematic/sonic/aesthetic) and, typically, small space (and even if Opaque has proven particularly fertile ground, its focus is extremely narrow). One such project is Wolves. Its genesis, in fact, was not an isolated occurrence: it came into existence in conjunction with Void Worship and served as the first release on this label. Up until then I had been running Hoarse, a mostly 3″ CDr label (the occasional regular CDr and tape were also issued) that had no particular focus or vision – or, at least, so I had come to experience it myself. In fact, its focus was probably typical of the type of noise labels and artists that existed in the 00s and that connected, often, through the internet. I found inspiration in labels such Roil Noise and Obscurica and close contacts in people such as Kyle and Carey (Cantankerous Records), Evan (Dirgehead Distribution Company), Joe (Cracked Bat Tapes) and Jelle (Muzikaal Kabaal). The main unifying vision driving all these people and their labels was nothing more than an intense enthusiasm for abrasive sounds. Hoarse functioned in much the same way and thus issued harsh noise, ambient, HNW, drone, noisy free jazz, and more. And while the enthusiasm was real, and while I can look back at the label and its output with fondness, its all-over-the-placeness became a nuisance for me eventually.
I briefly ran Plague, for which I released two tapes (Panic – The Grudge and Female Harakiri – Dread), a digital release (Panic – Super Metrhnw; a physical copy of the related METRHNW I ultimately self-released as Panic a few years later), and, in 2014, a 3″ CDr (Clive Henry – The Police Station) in a Resident Evil-themed series that I had initially run as a subseries of Hoarse, but that I then transferred wholesale to Plague, adopting its (Xeroxy) aesthetic for it, too (but that was discontinued immediately, then). One may note that the Plague Bandcamp is incomplete and that it lists two Resident Evil series releases that were officially issued through Hoarse. Not entirely content with what I felt were the restrictions I had imposed upon myself with Plague, I ended its operations as quickly as I had started them. In the same exchange of fictional cover art mentioned in the Purge Fluids post referred to above, I had created fictional art for an album entitled or artist called (the artwork was purposely ambiguous) Void Worship. This name stuck with me, and when I realised its fortunate potential for having a first release with catalogue number VO1D, I was determined to make it a reality.
At the time, I did a lot of collaboration and trading with Dennis (TRAITORS, Sendot Sklin, etc.), who I had initially met when I had purchased some Gerogerigege vinyls and CDs from him. It turned out then that he lived from the next (small) town over from my own, and we struck up a productive friendship (along with Jelle, we formed High Five And The Nikkei Six and regularly met to record, variously, harsh noise, noisecore, noiserock and free improv). One time we met Dennis was dubbing tapes for a new TRAITORS release and pointed at a pile of ten C10s he had received in an order but didn’t know what to do with and instead offered them to me. These C10s were the ones that I used as the King Fragile tapes. I barely recall anything about the actual recording process for the two walls on this tape, though I remember clearly how I had settled upon the visual idea for the artwork before the name and title came about; I had briefly considered using coloured artwork (I made concepts using Caravaggio’s The Entombment Of Christ), but then finally settled on a black and white engraving, for which Lucas van Leyden’s The Dance Of The Magdalene was the first candidate, to finally become that same artists’s Esther Before Ahasuerus. With the visual identity established and the walls recorded, the name and title then quickly followed; there was never any doubt in my mind that the name should be Wolves and that the title should be King Fragile. I printed the covers myself with a laser printer, dubbed the tapes at home, and so established, with the issue of VO1D, Void Worship.
Wolves would remain dormant for years; although it was occasionally part of conceptual brainstorming (for which I considered a C30 entitled Bleak Princess / Queen Fatigue, the physical release of which briefly seemed to become a reality courtesy of Tera-AntiQu), nothing physical would ever transpire again apart from an excerpt from the A-side of the King Fragile that was mixed into Drifting Flowers, a one-off compilation that was previously mentioned in the post on Purge Fluids. The final sign of life of Wolves was a contribution – FUCK LORD– to the 2000 Member HNW Group Compilation, the second in a series of digital compilations to celebrate 1000-member milestones on the dedicated HNW group on Facebook (the same compilation also features an Opaque track). Curiously, the track here is listed at a length of 14:48 (with two or so minutes of silence at the end), while my submission was 12:10 – where the ghost silence has come from I do not know. Outside of that one contribution, Wolves has remained in a universe of its own, the universe of King Fragile, the universe of an unmarked, white C10 with a cheap laser printed J-card, the universe of generic, anonymous 2011 HNW – the universe I wanted Wolves to inhabit. Void Worship, of course, has grown and grown since – VO2D followed, then VO3D, and so on – until, most recently, V20D, which was a tape reissue of an obscure (and excellent) early Female Harakiri CDr, Empty-handed I entered the world, barefoot I leave it.
Atlantic Princess 🌊 Live At Aquaria Towers (Wild Lights, Volume 1) is the 42nd release on Absent Erratum. This submission features one track at a total of 17 minutes and 41 seconds. It was released on November 4th, 2020.
Bubbled under, the weight of all the water resting on her shoulders, Absent Erratum traverses the vacated hallways of these submerged towers; she is oceanic, vaporous, pelagic, aquatic, her feet and hands webbed – she lightly finds her way through coral reefs and seagrass meadows, brushes off lovingly clinging algae and descends, descends, into the pressure of the darker depths, from where a sublime hum emanates: the abyss, now alive, has awoken.
Pop music and popular culture have long proven fruitful sources of inspiration for harsh noise and harsh noise wall. James Killick’s Love Katy project can probably be considered the pioneering voice in the particular niche of pop music-inspired HNW, and plenty of others have followed suit, such as Killick with his own Carrie, as well as projects inspired by the likes of Garth Brooks and Jane Birkin, on top of a slew of other projects centred around popular culture figures (Chloë, Skönhet, to name two) – which doesn’t even scratch the surface of the many, many individual releases dedicated to some pop star or another. I made some modest contributions to this particular niche under the Panic moniker; 2011’s Hunter C30 did so in name only (it was named after the Björk song and used her image in the artwork – hidden amidst washed-out Xerox textures, though), 2013’s Jewel C30 incorporated samples from the Ayumi Hamasaki song of the same title (and visually was also a truer pop-themed HNW tape), 2014’s BESTie series was the first conscious attempt at pop song length walls (at 12 C10 tapes in all), and the culmination of all this was, evidently, the series of tapes themed around Ariana Grande songs.
My latest release (and the first in a new series) is dedicated to my #1 pop idol, Ariana Grande, and takes the form of what is essentially a split single, with Ariana’s outstanding track ‘One Last Time’ on side A and my HNW reworking of that same track on side B. Playing them back to back will once more remind you of how wonderfully complementary pop idol fandom and HNW fanaticism are. The inserts and tapes are royally sprayed with the singer’s favourite perfume to ensure complete immersion into Ariana fandom. Full-colour insert on heavy card stock featuring a still from the equally outstanding MV (be sure to check it out) and transparent-golden C7 cassettes. Edition of 4.
All the tenets that would become central to the concept of the would-be series were clear: taking a single song as its theme (and a single at that, no album tracks), it featured the original on the A-side and its HNW counterpart – at the exact same length – on the B-side. The cover featured a single, distinctive screencap from the music video. The insert and tape were sprayed heavily with, initially, Ariana Grande’s favourite perfume, Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb (this was prior to the release of Ariane’s first own perfume; later tapes in the series were sprayed with Ari). I had not conceived of it as a series from the start and had thought One Last Time would be a one-off.
In January of 2016, what had been a one-off initially then became a series with the release of six more tapes, each equally featuring a single Ariana song on the A-side and a wall on the B-side. There were four tapes which featured solo walls: Baby I, Break Free, Focus and Bang Bang. On two other tapes, I collaborated with fellow pop aficionados James Killick (for Right There) and Mitchell Rotunno (for Love Me Harder). Whereas One Last Time had been released in a particularly scant edition size of 4 and had been issued on a transparent tape with golden inner liner, this second batch was released in a slightly more generous (but still small, yet generally genre-appropriate) edition size of 8; the tapes colours were coordinated to the colours of the screencap and overall insert design: Break Free on silver, Baby I on yellow, Focus on aqua, Bang Bang on pink, Right There on transparent ruby red, and Love MeHarder on transparent midnight blue.
The second batch of six Ari tapes was comprised of the then-final entries in the series, and, contrary to another series that had once seemed to have finished but has recently been expanded upon (Down Sluts), I don’t expect this series to be revived. The Ari era up until My Everything I hold in particularly special regard, and while Focus was a very decent single still (even if it could not stack up against earlier bangers), my interest waned with the release of Dangerous Woman, whose titular single I have always found an abomination (though the acapalla video is absolute eye candy); the album itself has also not managed to excite me much. Although there have been some decent things since certainly (Sweetener and thank u, next are decent efforts; her featuring on Nicki Minaj’s Bed elevates the song to something brilliant; 7 Rings was the source for a magnificent dembow flip), the absolute reign of this pop queen, to me, is over. This wall series may stand as a testament to the pop brilliance of Yours Truly and My Everything.
A small final note on the J-cards for these tapes: each featured the title of the album the single was culled from on the reverse underneath Ari’s signature. When Focus was released, it was a stand-alone single; at the time, the rumored follow-up album to My Everything was tentatively titled Moonlight. As such, the J-card for Focus makes mention of Moonlight; in fact, of course, the following album was ultimately called Dangerous Woman. Focus has, in fact, stayed a stand-alone single in Ari’s discography. It is, in the end, an odd duckling that perhaps signified an important transition in Ari’s career. Whichever way, it definitely marked the end of an era.