I have been making art in the eyes and ears of the public for about seven years. I have always strived to find a definite style that I will hope to hold on to and exercise throughout my life. However that idea of being an artist who battles with a single concept for all of his professional life seems unreachable. Essentially I make photocopies, zines, paintings, drawings, tapes, cds, poetry and probably more. Although they differ greatly in style from week to week there is a certain language that is present throughout my body of work. I work fast, ideas are raw, sometimes hazy, sometimes direct. But I believe the similarities between piece to piece stem from an obsession with hypnagogic like states that I have encountered in my life. I have always had trouble at night since I was a child with hallucinations of been taken on frightening or sometimes beautiful adventures at night.
I make a lot of different art and music depending on what I have been interested in of that period. But Im going to focus in this issue of vibrations of a new love called Harsh Noise Wall. Harsh noise wall or HNW for short is an off shot of noise music. For all those that are unclear with noise. Just like the world of music where artists release albums, singles, perform, go on tour etc noise artists/musicians do the same except their work is abstract. Melodies and traditional structures are scrapped in search of often dissonant, atonal and improvised works. I have been making tapes and cdr-s (writable CD’s) for many years and constantly experimenting with different styles within the realm of noise. But there’s something about HNW that has really gripped my attention. Harsh Noise Wall is basically a wall of mostly unchanging noise, static noise if you will. 99% of HNW tracks are loud, fierce and uncompromising. But such a minimalist sound can be traced as early as La Monte Young’s studies with Oscillators from possibly the 1960’s. Young would choose a simple waveform at his chosen frequency and keep that tone playing for a mighty long time. Although similar in compositional style the overall textures of HNW differ greatly. Young’s work was raw waveforms where as HNW uses mostly waveforms and then processes the wave through various effects. So often the set up for a HNW artist is a unit that creates a noise (waveform generator, white noise generator, circuit bent toy etc.) followed by an array of distortion pedals that were intended for use with guitar musicians. Obviously this is an often-followed route of creating the walls of sound, but there are many other ways that artists cleverly create their walls.
But more than often we need things to be reasoned with and a meaning defined. When we don’t like something or we like it but feel unsure why we search for meanings. I believe that in HNW a lot of artists share and conflict with ideals as to what HNW is about. Vomir aka Romain Perrot is an artist often cited as the king of the genre. His take on HNW is that each wall is a void, an empty vessel; to him HNW is like silence. Often Vomir’s releases are untitled and have very minimalist artwork.
From that extreme we have others who often decorate or use the walls entirely to illustrate subject matter, there is a great deal of HNW that often has titles and artwork dedicated to sexual fetishes and more than often feet fetish. This often is accompanied with titles about ladies and their feet. There are a lot of artists who also use the abrasive and confrontational aspect of the sonic structures to portray violent and/or offensive material. Often the artwork to a HNW release is designed in the same way as some metal or doom bands.
But in terms of my own style and attitude to this genre. I would say that I tend to steer towards the Vomir type meanings. For me there is nothing violent about the sound of a wall. For me it is peace, zen. When creating a wall I keep in mind my influences within visual art. I am always heavily inspired by the sculpture of Carl Andre. His single barren units of objects that are found in everyday life are similar to how some people’s instant reaction to listening to a HNW track. More than often people will mistake the sounds as an audio device going wrong or a radio unturned. Plus the hum of a wall can be paralleled with a lot of everyday sounds we hear. Carl Andre’s single everyday units build up to something of infinite value that can be seen in my HNW, there is often not a clear end to each wall and they appear to only be a snapshot of a bigger picture by the fact that each track ends abruptly.
Another great visual influence on my walls is minimalist abstract painting. For me making a wall isn’t about making a void, it’s about making an insight into a new world where we are only experiencing a snapshot, so alien from ours but with some parallels to everyday life. This concept is one that I often take into consideration when making any art or music.
If you would like to hear my walls feel free to listen or download samples of my work on this website: https://soundcloud.com/robertridley-shackleton
However for me creating sounds is always something that eventually ends up being a physical release that someone can take home with them and play on their hi-fi. I believe in making art and sounds that are available to own and to share at a reasonable price. Although I love going to galleries or gigs to hear installations or performances, there is nothing quite as wonderful as having a tape, cd or vinyl of a wonderful world that you can submerse in and then put on the shelf with your collection.
So if you are interested in buying any of my physical products feel free to browse my blog: http://hissingframes.blogspot.co.uk/
And email me to inquire about which copies you wish to have at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading this. I hope to write more about my interests in a later issue of Vibrations wonderful journal.