Form and Void: Swallowing Bile’s Paradise Alley and Golden Girl
Writer’s note: if Masterlord ever wants to become rich and semi-famous as the world’s preeminent metal blogger, and if Joe wants to
bang smash slamdance pursue a romantic relationship with Charli XCX, they’re going to have to stop letting me do this shit. I can only picture W shaking his stately, presidential head in disapproval.
What’s up, and welcome. This is another enthusiastic hello to all Toilet Ov Hell readers, our fine community, and Barry Goldwater Republicans everywhere. The undisputed king of lengthy, run on sentences, improper punctuation,
True Trve Detective fandom, and second in command at the Toilet Ov Void’s Noizzz Division is back to introduce this series, Form and Void. Form and Void is a new series dedicated to power electronics, noise, and any other suitably weird music that I stumble across or weird music that comes my way. How much weird music comes your way, Edward? The amount is not small. In fact, someone from Gmail contacted me to ask if I was doing alright. I told them I was but they insisted on providing me with a list of psychiatric care providers in my area. A note: Form and Void may also feature more straightforward material that does not come from the beyond, just some obscure obskvre goodness for our beloved readership to get hip to.
Who better for the introduction of this series than Swallowing Bile? Readers of this site should be no stranger to Swallowing Bile, who has previously been covered here, here, and here. As one of the busiest and harshest contributors to the active power electronics scene in the United States, Swallowing Bile has been working his way into the ears, hearts, and minds of Toilet Ov Hell readers since. The Toilet Ov Hell is excited to bring you coverage on a pair of brand new Swallowing Bile releases that have not been publicly announced yet. Let’s get into each release. We don’t have a moment to spare.
In a recent email, Ethan Ebeling (Swallowing Bile himself) explained Paradise Alley to me as “a conceptual piece about an old dive bar that existed out in my area a few years ago. Minors would be allowed into the bar regularly and subsequently older men would enjoy their ‘company’, buy them drinks, engage in intercourse, etc. The release is two small pieces that work as one larger work and the packaged copies came with a used condom wrapper and each insert was sprayed with old perfume found at the spot of the (now destroyed) bar. Paradise Alley is sold out now, but, Vanguard Productions purchased a small number from me while on tour and he will have them available soon”.
In a previous article I made mention of both the power electronics and harsh noise wall halves of Swallowing Bile’s musical character; “White Walls/Paradise Alley” is a stunning example of the former. The track opens with a woozy, intoxicating synth punctuated by a blast of harsh static and feedback, similar to the use of blastbeats in heavy metal. That woozy synth continues under the blasting electronics, barely audible but lending a semblance of melody to the track. The synth and blasting struggle for control for the first several minutes of this track, until just past the three minute mark something new is introduced: a deeper static rumbling reminiscent of Secluded. The bucolic noise picks up intensity until the opening synth regains its hold. The synth, static, and electronic blasting alternate for about seven minutes until the vocals are finally introduced. The vocals are trademark Swallowing Bile: hostile, pained shouts brimming with menace.
“Paradise alley/letting unders in/Rohypnol sales through the roof/first date with Daddy’s best friend.”
The lurid subject matter and excruciating length make the material exceedingly difficult to absorb. Ebeling repeats variations of the same lyrics like a mantra between the relentless power electronics blasting, alternating from a high pitched scream and a deeper growl before new feedback comes into play for the track’s final thirty seconds.
Provocation, exploitation and offense are power electronics’ bread and butter, but Ebeling uses his transgressive lyrical themes for a different purpose. Ebeling uses Swallowing Bile to draw attention to a far too common occurrence often covered up by authorities or those in positions power: Sex crimes, the exploitation of minors, and human trafficking–heinous crimes to which people turn a blind eye. Ignorance is bliss when headlines like “Former Tech player and wife locked child in basement for months” or “Unidentified baby found dead in box shipped to Texas warehouse” circulate nationwide and the perpetrators get off with minimal jail sentences. A Wisconsin man sentenced for locking his teen stepsister in his basement and repeatedly sexually abusing her received a paltry three years for his crimes. Does Ebeling’s addressing the subject matter make it any less difficult to swallow? In a word, no. Calling Swallowing Bile a vehicle for social justice may be a bit of stretch, but to call him uncaring or even supporting of the themes presented is just as much a fallacy.
Maintaining his status as an active power electronics and harsh noise wall producer, Swallowing Bile has eight releases (albums, splits, singles and more) from this year available on his Bandcamp.
Golden Girl is comprised of two songs, “Daddy’s Golden Girl” and “Rubbish Always,” with each around nine minutes long. Gradually increasing harsh noise opens “Daddy’s Golden Girl.” In a tactic reminiscent of extreme metal acts like Portal and Aevangelist, roughly a minute in a distant voice becomes barely audible beneath the murk, barely present, like the glossolalia of some damned Pentecostal church. As the vocals become more prominent with the track’s progression, a squealing sound is introduced, taking the shape of some sinister, indecipherable radio broadcast around which the noise twists and mutates. Unlike “White Pills/Paradise Alley,” this track does not rely on blasting electronics or Swallowing Bile’s pained shouts. Near the track’s end, though, the vocals begin to slightly resemble Ebeling’s usual vocal delivery. “Daddy’s Golden Girl” ends as it began, dissolving back into Void-like static.
“Rubbish Always” picks up right where “Daddy’s Golden Girl” leaves off. Two imposing minutes of harsh noise and changing tape loops lead to another kidnapping tale. Unlike Secluded, this is not a revenge fantasy. No mention is made of past harms done or retribution.
“No one will look, if I took you. No one will look, when I take you.”
The vocals shift in and out of comprehension as static explodes over the canvas like bomb blasts. The track reaches its climax amidst a cacophony of noise and a repeated phrase in some alien tongue before Swallowing Bile shapes his voice into something monstrous to remind us that “no one will remember Daddy’s golden girl.”
These two releases comprise roughly thirty minutes of new Swallowing Bile material, in which Ebeling tackles the exploitation of children and offers another kidnapping and murder fantasy. Swallowing Bile continues to push the envelope of power electronics and harsh noise in a harrowing and destructive fashion. Both albums covered in this post receive:
Both Swallowing Bile releases covered in today’s post are available on his Bandcamp at “name your price”.
Form and Void takes its title from the season finale of HBO’s True Detective.
Thanks to Christian for editing and co-authoring this article.