Gazing Too Long Into The Abyss: All That Noise
Let your mind retreat into itself through these tracks of forbidding, atonal dissonance.
Confession: I enjoy listening to static. When life gets the better of me (which has been often this year) and my metal and ambient options aren’t doing the trick to mentally snap me back into place, I’ll find an in-between AM or FM radio station with nothing but seething, sputtering fuzz and let it flood the background noise of my thoughts for awhile. Why let your mind chatter away with doubts and frustrations when you can scrub it clean through an hour of ugly oblique frequencies?
Enter Full Noise Albums on YouTube, featuring over 200 videos of artists ranging in style from pure static noise to touches of dark ambient to lo-fi retro beats. Most appear to come from cassette tapes ripped to videos. Details about each tape are scarce, leaving you to decide whether to do the googling about each artist on your own, or ignore the details and preserve their clandestine nature. These could be current artists who are active today or it could be one man’s personal collection from years of tape-trading.
Here’s a small sampling of full albums featured on the channel. The variety is huge, so if you don’t hear something you like in the vids below, I strongly encourage you to visit their full upload list and click around to find something that suits your tastes.
Puce Mary – Rubber Therapy
The channel’s most recent upload (as of this writing) telegraphs immediate unease with its grimy NSFW cover art, and rarely deviates from its “you won’t enjoy this” atmosphere of hazy, lossy reverberations and impact patterns. Its overall sound is compressed and flattened into a lifeless EQ rut, never punching you with deep bass or slicing you with screaming highs, but instead sitting in a midrange pocket of voicemails, bad phone reception and AM radio. The closing crescendo section from 18:45 to 24:00 sounds like an alternate soundtrack for Quake scored by Author & Punisher, with eight bit video game sound bytes looped through homemade distortion and echo circuits.
Terence Hannum – Burning Impurities
With cover art that looks like an endlessly-photocopied picture from The Satanic Bible, this trancelike noise ritual is divided into two halves. Programme A, “Ceremonially Clean,” is hypnotically hymnal in its rhythmic repetitions, mixing throbs of maxed out, distorted humming and ethereal touches of delicate dripping synths. Later, waves of white noise begin spilling into choir chants and carefully controlled feedback. Programme B, “Pass Through The Fire,” is a half hour of seldom-changing static drones, only tapering off layer by layer in its last several minutes to reveal a return to its initial hymnal tones, completing the ceremony.
Crown of Bone / Nighttime In The Abyss – Split
VOLUME WARNING: Crown of Bone offers 30 straight minutes of harsh, clipping static and magnetic tape chatter: pure earsplitting hatred. There’s little else to describe it. When this abruptly stops, Nighttime In The Abyss slinks in like a cold fog hanging above warm soil with horrifying artificial chants, musique concrète spasms and recordings of a religious ceremony (complete with sanctus bells) taking place in a nightmare of interminable howls and abrasive winds.
Misery Ritual – Become
Ignore the amateur illustration on the cover and you’re in for an enthusiastic session of signal destruction. Imagine having access to an analog instrument mother lode like NIN, then eschewing any sort of musical purpose in favor of plugging shit into other shit endlessly and fucking up the signal beyond all recognition. Beeps, warbles and squelching MIDI feeds rotate and burst in an almost completely random order that feels more like an odd live performance than a crafted composition for an album. Around 6:30, the analog bursts dissipate and the track takes a darker turn with a murky, sinister voice that continues almost through to the end, where the signals finally lose strength and die out in a painful wind-down.
Wasted Cathedral – Pleasant Valley
Far less oppressive and malevolent than the other selections, this album is a unique crossroads of retro loops and synthesizer pads that sound like they were snagged from an 80s corporate training video, a lost Tangerine Dream soundtrack and segments of Beyond The Black Rainbow – all with a significant patina of wear and tape hiss, as if the cassette were thrown in a river, frozen several times, recovered on a shore, left to dry and recorded for this video upload.
At times sounding like an alternate version of synthwave’s runaway 80s nostalgia, the throwback here is not to the popular image of Lamborghinis, wayfarers and palm trees shading beautiful flesh. This is more downtrodden, more worn and bittersweet, like the abandoned mall from Night of the Comet. Whatever small moments of emotion and wonder you may discover are never too far from an oppressive reminder that the world is dead. Soon you will be too. The lights are going out, so enjoy the music while it lasts, right through to its final, simple keyboard hums.
Check out Full Noise Albums on YouTube