Absent Erratum: Atlantis Princess – Live At Aquaria Towers (Wild Lights, Volume 1)

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.

You can listen to Live At Aquaria Towers here.

Panic & Ariana Grande

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.

One Last Time was the first in the series, announced as follows:

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 Me Harder 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.

Opaque – Delirium (Down Sluts Vol. IV) C30

Thomas Puopolo’s excellent Summer Interlude Records today released a new Opaque tape, a C30 entitled Delirium: Down Sluts Vol. IV. The Down Sluts series began as a trilogy of releases: the brief Intimacy (released digitally through James Killick’s Maniacal Laugh – just after another Opaque release on that same label, Moncler Hermine), Sensuality and Ecstasy (the latter two both self-released tapes, a C60 and a C25 respectively). With the first two volumes released in 2015 and the third in early 2016, the series remained, conclusively, a trilogy for years. I had never even thought to expand the series into a tetralogy until Thomas got in touch. I personally felt the release could go in either of two ways thematically, so I consulted Thomas to find out what he thought, and the result is evident: the Down Sluts series now has a fourth entry.

The existence of a fourth entry (as well as the first three) owes, of course, some credit to the main inspiration: without the fetish work of Julie Skyhigh, there would be little in the way of material to inspire a Down Sluts series at all. While some down fetish porn is scattered throughout the web, most of it is kindly amateurish material with models in oversized, unflattering old-school Moncler jackets or Nuptses – nothing I find particularly thrilling. Julie Skyhigh, by contrast, has shown to understand a certain niche of down jacket enthusiasts a lot better: she presents something decidedly more hardcore, all the while adorned in far superior jackets such as the absolutely wonderful Moncler Alpin or a tight, shiny Pyrenex bomber. As such, she graced the cover of Intimacy, dressed in a Moncler Alpin, and was also featured on the covers of both Sensuality and Ecstasy – in both cases in the aforementioned red Pyrenex bomber, along with Gina Gerson, dressed in Julie’s classic black Moncler Alpin for the occassion.

Delirium features several screenshots from a more recent Julie production, in which she and co-star Lucy Cat are both dressed in magnificent Moncler jackets. It’s a shining example of what down jacket fetish porn might aspire to and provided the proper inspiration to continue the Down Sluts series, with a title that, I personally find, visually and sonically achieves what the first three volumes achieved too.

Delirium was released in an edition of 25 copies and can be purchased from Summer Interlude Records here.

Opaque – Ienki Ienki Michlin Supreme Rose

Just out: a new digital Opaque release, Ienki Ienki Michlin Supreme Rose. This release may be considered a teaser of sorts to a tape that’s coming up soon on Fall Into Void Records. Ienki Ienki, the brand, has so far been unexplored territory for Opaque, since the project’s focus has primarily been on Moncler, of course. Other brands and jackets have definitely served as inspiration, however, such as – recently – the Duvetica Diadema jacket, Miu Miu’s cropped two-tone quilted hooded down jacket and the Mackage Emerie lightweight down puffer in cobalt. Before that, excellent brands (and excellent jackets by these brands) such as Pyrenex, Nickelson and Millet had already been spotlighted.

Ienki Ienki is a luxury brand whose signature Michlin jacket is absolutely fantastic. Utterly puffy and available in a range of colours, as well as various matte and glossy styles, it’s an excellent display of pure devotion to a brilliant design. For this release, the Supreme Rose – a foil variant, so extra glossy – served as the inspiration. Ienki Ienki Michlin Supreme Rose consists of two tracks, each 13:43 in length, and can be listened to in full here.

From the archives: Malheurr – Purge Fluids (Causerie Sur Le Temps) C20

One of the main attractions in sound creation, perhaps especially in experimental music and, for me personally, especially especially in HNW, is how much it is a narrative medium, in a practically writerly fashion. Voices can be employed at will, either by adjustments in sound design, thematic approach, visual identity or any combination of these. As such, sound creation enables one to, much like in (fiction) writing, construct characters, fictions, narratives to embed the created sound in a singularly immersive, sustained experience. While such approaches are part and parcel of music in many genres and styles, they are often barely or not at all removed from the artist proper: his/her/their voice is always the one relaying the character or story, as within most traditional genres the removal of the artist from the music is not in any particular (commercial) interest. Such concerns exist less or not at all in more fringe genres and styles.

The J-card for Soft Fires.

Soft Fires was an exercise in the employment of several distinct narrative voices within a single release. Of course, my writing on it in part – if not entirely – untangles its mystery, demystifies it, which runs counter to what was at least its (or my) intention upon conception and creation. However, I find it is quite illustrative of the point I wish to make and, as such, will delve into it to some more depth. I released Soft Fires in 2014 on home-dubbed C60 tape as a faux-compilation featuring a slew of artists operating in a variety of genres: crystalline ambient and beats, lo-fi black metal, MIDI free jazz, drone, PE, harsh noise, witch house and synth pop. The tape was released through the fictional Super Pink label as, supposedly, a compilation featuring artists who had performed at an equally fictional festival, Super Pink Fest, some months prior to the tape release. The artists featured, among others, included Mothers, the bedroom synth pop project of 19-year-old Brit; Maria Cortez’ industrial drone project Inverse Reflection; and Kjell Bråten Berg, a Norwegian composer of chiptune jazz. Of course, what all these artists really were was a personal challenge to myself to employ numerous voices in equally numerous genres.

Another project featured on the Soft Fires tape was Malheurr, given in the liner notes as the project of ‘Dominic et Luc’. Also evidenced by the title to their track, L’essaim Interminable (The Endless Swarm), it was clear their project was conceived as French(-language) two-man band. In fact, I had conceived of their name even earlier, in 2012, in an exchange of fictional cover art, where I presented the at-that-point entirely fictional Malheurr and their album Malheurreuse, supposedly “depressed shoegaze metal from France”. For Soft Fires, then, I gave shape to Malheurr properly and recorded a gritty, lo-fi black metal track, which was then wedged in between the opening sample (from Ti West’s Sacrament) and Kjell Bråten Berg’s beepy, manic bursts of chip-jazz.

Outside of White Church, a witch house project that had another track featured on a one-off, one-copy compilation of personal works I made for Alexander Adams entitled Drifting Flowers, none of the projects featured on Soft Fires ever made another appearance. Malheurr, however, was to be revived, although it would no more be black metal. In 2017, I released Purge Fluids (Causerie Sur Les Temps) on Void Worship with the following blurb to describe its sound:

Current explorations in HNW – especially those explorations that investigate the very fringes – have served both to show the broad scope of the genre as well as to define its boundaries more clearly. While on the one end of the spectrum there is a steady stream of ever harsher walls that leave no space to breathe, the other end of the spectrum has seen artists employing quiet and sparseness instead; especially in ambient noise wall and crackle studies, the individual bursts of sounds (pops, crackles) that make up the wall – and by extension, the spaces between them – have grown ever more important and distinct. The broad range of sound within the wall genre (from sparse crackles to harsh blasting) exemplifies – in a fascinating way all of its own – the interesting interplay of tone and tempo. Purge Fluids is French duo Malheurr’s modest contribution to this active musical (noisy) dialogue and juxtaposes HNW with black metal rife with blast beats.

The J-card for Purge Fluids.

Indeed, Purge Fluids presented something of a blend of black metal with HNW. Although the sound was decidedly HNW, with a jittery, grinding crackle dominating the sound, buried in the mix there were distinct blast beats and even some guitar shredding to be discerned, though I think they were incorporated into the sound subtly and successfully enough to keep the wall a wall while at the same time managing to lend it a black metal vibe. The black metal nature of the recordings was, of course, further emphasized by its artwork, which – while keeping to the Void Worship template, breathed a distinctly (black) metal vibe. The blurb was accompanied by a quote from band member Dominic:

Luc [fellow band member] plays a lot of HNW before our recording sessions. This time he plays a really nasty, grimy tape. We sit with our beer nodding our heads to the wall and I give Luc a look. ‘Putain, this is like a fucking blast beat!’, I scream at him, and in that moment we know what we must do. We record two filthy blasting bm tracks and then we play them in our room while putting our hnw on top. The room fills with PURE FUCKING BLAST. We don’t know if it’s wall or drums but what we know is it’s bliss.

Dominic’s voice, of course, was entirely mine and encapsulated some thoughts and ideas I’d had concerning HNW and the way it does or might interact – or, perhaps, rather overlap – with other genres. I discussed such ideas at various points with other artists, most notably Damien De Coene, who equally had observed that any genre pushed to its musical extreme might resemble or be entirely similar to HNW. The lo-fi, gritty black metal that was the inspiration (and even a sound source, of course) for Malheurr is one example; splittercore and extratone are other examples of a genre pushed to an extreme where it may become a wall in and of itself. (Equally, of course, HNW’s derivations, especially those into areas of ANW and beyond, have served to demonstrate its closeness to lowercase music, for instance.) One anonymous contribution to my Absent Erratum label, Nike Air Max Nostalgia, is a wonderful demonstration of how (ar)rhythmic oscillations, gabber beats, basses and stutters can be used to create something akin to HNW (although purists may beg to differ with its classification).

A close-up picture of the Purge Fluids tape release.

The full Soft Fires compilation is currently not uploaded anywhere online; however, I’ve uploaded a few tracks to YouTube, each also adorned with supposed individual cover art.

War Story

War Story is a series of tapes issued through the eponymous label, each tape – with the exception of the Atlantikwall set – featuring two sides of walls recorded directly onto tape and issued, as such, in an edition of 1. The tapes were issued under the Paniek moniker, a variation of Panic (here rendered in Dutch), which was my first exclusively HNW venture.

The idea for the series originated in a recording that was inspired by Concrete Threat’s Young Blood and a newspaper article from which the art that was to be used for the first War Story tape, Brethren, was clipped. This recording, entitled Brethren I (Side A), was made available on Soundcloud and would eventually be followed by a second track, Brethren I (Side B) (both tracks were ultimately uploaded to Bandcamp here). At this point, of course, the series’ initial entry may have the semblance of being on tape, but it was only a digital venture.

The series made its tape debute, finally, in August 2011, with the release of Brethren, which shared its name and artwork with the digital version available on Soundcloud, but which featured all new recordings, laid down directly on tape. A further three tapes were recorded and issued that year: Normandy (#2), We Threw Our Mortars (#3) and M4 Sherman (#4). All tapes were distributed through the then-current incarnation of the HNW board, though I can’t remember who received which tape (or who even received them). All first four tapes were, if I recall correctly, recorded onto recycled tapes and thus varied in length (I haven’t kept record of their durations and back-ups of the tracks do not exist).

The series lay dormant for several years, until I was inspired to record again in 2015. Two tapes were recorded that year: The Ruins Of Itri Square (#5) and Amidst This Rain Of Shells (#6). The release of these tapes was announced through Facebook, where I wrote the following about the creation processes behind them:

The recording process for these was slightly different. I initially recorded two walls, then dubbed these to a tape master and then recorded them back and forth between the master tape and a second generation master tape, gradually degrading the walls. When I deemed them sufficiently degraded I dubbed them to the final (released) tape. The first and second generation masters were then erased and the original recordings deleted.

Back-ups of these tracks, as such, neither exist. The tapes used for The Ruins Of Itri Square and Amidst This Rain Of Shells were not so much recycled: they were left-over shells from an order of tapes I had received a while before. One of the two – the C4 used for The Ruins Of Itri Square – had been wrongly loaded (and was supposed to have been a C60 – these were used for the Clock Tower tape on Void Worship). The C22 for Amidst This Rain Of Shells, meanwhile, was a left-over tape for the run of Wulfy Benzo’s Dogglefox tape, also on Void Worship (and was probably actually a C23, though the info I can find on it now seems contradictory).

The currently final entry into the War Story series was issued in 2016. The creation process differed again. For Atlantikwall, the tracks were pre-recorded, then dubbed onto tape. Contrary to the previous releases, since the tracks were pre-recorded, they could be backed up, and I chose to do so in this particular instance (clearly, I found it hard to say goodbye to). All in all, Atlantikwall contained six hours of material, spread over four C90 tapes in a large white 4-way presentation case. The eight tracks featured on it each came in at 45 minutes sharp. I’ve occasionally distributed the files to people requestion them specifically, but recently uploaded it to Bandcamp instead, where it can now be streamed. You can find it here.

Opaque – Duvetica Diadema Princess

This year I participated in the Staticism tape swap, along with other such excellent artists as Cannibal Ritual, Bruising Pattern, She Walks Crooked and more. My entry was for October. The result was Duvetica Diadema Princess: a two-tape set housed in a double library case. The cassettes themselves are a marble lilac, with the four respective sides – Duvetica, Diadema, Princess and 〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰 – each coming in at 15 minutes sharp.

Duvetica Diadema Princess is a tribute to Duvetica’s 2019 Diadema jacket, a down jacket that comes in 6 colours: black, white, pink, lime yuzu, light grey and dark blue, although their availability has differed regionally (incidentally, for 2020 a plum version seems to have been added, which has the Duvetica patch on the left arm rather than on the chest; additional note added 20/10/2020: the fabric in the 2020 black version seems slightly more matte, as far as I can judge from the pictures on various webshops, such as here, which would mean that the 2019 version is clearly superior! Also, the yellow is now sunbeam yellow and tends more towards orange than the lime yuzu, which leaned more towards green). The three variants I find the most amazing, the black, pink and lime yuzu, are in my collection. They are without doubt some of the finest down jackets ever designed, finally putting Duvetica – whose previous collections I found generally unremarkable – up there with the likes of Moncler. Interestingly, of course, Duvetica was founded by two former Moncler employees, Giampiero Vagliano and Stefano Rovoletto, who initially launched the brand exclusively for the Japanese market before they expanded to the rest of the world. Still, the brand’s ubiquituous presence in South-East Asia surpasses its general popularity elsewhere, as evidenced by its recent popularity in South-Korea, with its jackets gracing the shoulders of numerous social media-ites and those of actors and actresses in TV shows and at public events.

Four tributes to the Diadema jacket were released prior to this double tape, each consisting of two tracks of 8 minutes each and dedicated respectively to the black version (Duvetica Diadema), the lime yuzu (Duvetica Diadema (Colour Variation 1: ▢)), the pink (Duvetica Diadema (Colour Variation 2: ▢)) and the white (Duvetica Diadema (Colour Variation 3: ▢)). These were only released digitally for now, but will likely see physical versions in the near-future.

Duvetica Diadema Princess was released in an edition of 12, one each for the participants in the 2020 Staticism tape swap. Each tape was accompanied by a Moncler Opaque patch and shipped in a matte pink/purple bubble envelope to the participants. A thirteenth copy of this tape, in a special edition, was sent to a close contact. The 〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰 used both in the artwork and for the track title of the closing track, incidentally, is a small tribute to one of the most excellent down jacket accounts on Instagram, @jacketpablo. It was the direct or indirect source for several images used across the different Diadema releases.

Duvetica Diadema Princess is not available online as of yet, but may be in the future. Of course, most other Opaque releases (including the other Diadema releases) can be streamed or purchased on the Bandcamp here.

From the archives: horsing – Yukiko Okada (2008)

Although my first singularly wall venture was to be Panic, the first proper wall I ever recorded (outside of some experiments with static a few years earlier that had happened from a different point of departure entirely) was the track that would end up on the 4-way split Four On The Floor, released through Cantankerous Records from Australia and also featuring contributions by The Shock Technician, PPP and Dotåbåtå. Originally recorded in 2008, the 4-way split would not see the light of day until 2012, by which time the horsing moniker had been mostly retired (that year saw the last release under the moniker, a split with fellow Dutch HN/HNW act TRAITORS).

Yukiko Okada was named for a Japanese idol and singer who tragically committed suicide in 1986. She had served as an inspiration before, lending both the title as well as a sample to the track Little Princess / If There Was A Magic To Forget You off the horsing split tape with Zebra Mu. While that track was a mixture of found sounds and phone-recorded screechy harsh noise, an experimental approach firmly in line with the general horsing approach, Yukiko Okada was a true wall and was the track that gave way to my first all-wall project, Panic, as well as my first (and shortly-lived) all-wall label, Plague Records.

Four On The Floor is comprised of four bizcard CDrs that come in a cassette case, each individually in a pink slipcase, with a J-card and two inserts. The bizcards are stamped with the initials of each project and Roman numerals IV. The lay-out and design was courtesy of Carey Knight, half of the crew running Cantankerous Records (along with Kyle Dennis, producing harsh noise under the Fuck, The Retarded Girl moniker) and the man behind Dotåbåtå. The picture below gives an overview of the release’s aesthetics, showing its J-card, inserts and the horsing bizcard.

I collaborated quite a bit with Carey for a while, doing releases on each other’s labels and a split, among other things. Eventually we lost touch; by the time this release saw the light of the day we were no longer in contact. I eventually picked up the release myself through Discogs. It’s a very cool release that, just like everything else that was done on Cantankerous at the time, had a distinct aesthetic and a lot of care put into it.

The track itself can be listened to on the horsing Bandcamp right here: Yukiko Okada.

Absent Erratum: ░N░E░W░ – Painting Of Common Objects

░N░E░W░ 🖼️ Painting Of Common Objects is the 41st release on Absent Erratum. This submission features three tracks at a total of 61 minutes and 20 seconds. It was released on October 7th, 2020.

A blank canvas offers its bare wrists, ready for the scratching, the scraping, the slitting; Absent Erratum draws forth from them a ruby red stream – an act of violence, an act of love. She runs the stream off a surface void of features, where slowly, gradually, a portrait emerges. The unfamiliar turns familiar, the absence turns into a presence; subjects and objects are projected onto each other – abstraction is a history, its lineage unknown.

You can listen to Painting Of Common Objects here.