Sunday, 21 March 2010

Reviews & Theory etc.

I've noticed that with the few positive HNW reviews that I have seen (see 'HNW Reviews and Opinions' post below for some examples), that many are in what we might call an early stage of excitement; a sort of honeymoon period. These reviews tend to explain to the reader why HNW is a relevent and exciting new genre, highlighting its political aspects and philosophical connotations. In many ways I think this is what tends to draw people into HNW to begin with. Myself included. But I foresee a real watershed in the reception of HNW which will be important for the continued importance of the genre. I think this watershed will hinge on whether or not people can make the leap to analysing the specific aural aesthetics of HNW and begin to articulate where HNW begins and ends as a genre and to begin to identitfy artists based on there idiosyncratic approaches. Without this I would not be surprised if the growing interest in HNW dried-up sooner rather than later as people get bored with their inability to fully develop their understanding of the genre. On the other hand though, maybe HNW is somewhat impervious to such an analysis and that's all there is to it. It is quite possible that HNW is separated from other noise genres because it is fundamentally driven by a philosophical/political message. If this is the case then maybe writers, fans and wallers in general will never be able to articulate that je ne sais quois that separates a good peice from a bad one. I for one still find it difficult to put into words why I prefer one wall over another although I think its important that on Cannibal Ritual's forum ( there have been some posts which attempt to describe what frequencies and wave forms and interactions are appreciated and why. I suppose all genres, musical and otherwise, come to an important stage when they have to tackle the question of evolving without compromising an original aesthetic or philosophical ideal. Maybe we are approaching this in HNW. I know that I often feel the stress of how to make a new and exicting wall without drifting too far from the template. Sometimes I fear HNW will stagnate without developing a sophisticated method of critically analysing/articulating itself. Generally I tend to get bored and go and listen to Black Metal or Oi for a month but I always come back. Bit of a ramble but just some thoughts as they come to me.


  1. Hello.
    I find your thoughts on HNW and philosophy interesting, but I think it's wrong that all HNW is linked to this philosophy.

    "HNW is separated from other noise genres because it is fundamentally driven by a philosophical/political message."

    A wall is a wall, no matter what thoughts it's based on.
    I make HNW, because it's like a drug to me. It sounds good, it's relaxing and it's inspiring.
    I consider HNW a nihilistic genre, and nihilism is the belief that nothing makes sense. Nothing. Which must mean that all kinds of sound makes as little sense as HNW.

  2. I tend to agree with AVFN on the idea that HNW as a movement is quickly approaching a turning point of sorts. It has been gaining huge momentum as of late (I use the term 'huge' relatively speaking), for certain, and I think that momentum is going to come to a sort of apex before long.

    The fact is, it's hard to talk about HNW in a surgical manner without taking away from it (at least, that's how most conversations seem to go). I'm not a Zen devotee, but am inspired by many of its concepts, one of those being: you do not describe Zen, you KNOW Zen.

    I came across this Koan which seems appropriate:

    "Joshu asked Nansen: `What is the path?'

    Nansen said: `Everyday life is the path.'

    Joshu asked: `Can it be studied?'

    Nansen said: `If you try to study, you will be far away from it.'

    Joshu asked: `If I do not study, how can I know it is the path?'

    Nansen said: `The path does not belong to the perception world, neither does it belong to the nonperception world. Cognition is a delusion and noncognition is senseless. If you want to reach the true path beyond doubt, place yourself in the same freedom as sky. You name it neither good nor not-good.'

    At these words Joshu was enlightened."

    There's lots of HNW with political or philosophical agendas, and of course even having 'no agenda' is having an agenda - which makes it all the more hard to talk about. When people can't break something down to a comfortable level of immediate understanding, it bothers them; I find HNW to be very much along these lines. As a sound alone, it is gaining popularity, but personally I don't fathom it will grow to a huge level, and we may even see a decline in the amount of people both practising and following HNW in the near future.

    It will be interesting to watch it unfold, either way.

  3. @ Pu-Ha: Thanks for the comment. But I fail to see where it is precisely that you and I disagree. I too see HNW as nihilistic, in fact, that is precisely the philosophy that I believe is behind HNW. Maybe you don't see nihilism as a philosophy so much? But I'm not sure why that would be, especially since you lay emphasis on how HNW works for you like a drug. To my mind this is a manifestation of the nihilistic philosophy behind HNW.

    Nihilism teaches us that nothing in the world has objective value or meaning rendering all human knowledge and art as mere interpretation. This fact is at once crushingly bleak yet liberating for it allows us to build our own meaning based on our own perspective. We choose`to listen to HNW knowing that it is as valid a way of spending/wasting our time as listening to Mozart but knowing also that it eschews every rule that old Wolfgang played by. This is where the political dimension arises, because by deciding to use a sound which most people would view as noise as art we are making a definitive statement about our nihilistic philosophy.

    Where HNW departs from other noise genres is that it *appears* to have more thoroughly purged itself of the rules of art and music. In fact, from the outside, it doesn't look like we are creating anything at all. (This is what made me suggest that HNW *may* be more driven by politics or philosophy than other genres). I like to think of it as the art of doing nothing. To make an art of doing nothing, to obsess over a sound that few would appreciate or understand, to submit yourself to a wall of static to the point that it feels like a drugged or meditative state is, to my mind, a powerful statement akin to anarchism, vegetarianism or even monasticism in that it uses the refusal of percieved necessities to undermine common perceptions whilst strengthening our own alternative perception.

    Indeed, as Cole pointed out:
    "Cognition is a delusion and noncognition is senseless."

  4. I should say though that the point of the original post above is to contemplate this fine balance between art and nothing. Clearly HNW can be considered a form of art and/or music. Yet if HNW is art then it follows that, like all forms of art, a formal method of critique will develop. I'm anticipating this development whilst wondering what will be lost once it has been brought into the fold, as it were.

  5. Frankly, I have to say that I'd hate to see HNW be dragged into the world of 'art,' no matter how 'avant-garde' it might be considered. So much can be ruined by placing an idea or 'object' into the category of art - because it then submits that idea or object to the world of, as Andrew has said, critique. It then becomes that we begin to judge a wall as compared to others, rank it, decide its merit, and give it some sort of pre-packaged/enclosed summary.

    Of course, this already happens every time a HNW record gets covered on review websites/magazines, doesn't it...?

    Judging HNW as one would judge art - to me, this flies in the face of what I consider to be one of the founding elements of HNW - the fact that it doesn't matter how one wall compares to the next, or whether the 'artist' (another term I tend to loathe) has made any progress since their last creation, or how complex the piece was to create, or any of that... it submits the work to that sad human need to neatly classify, categorize and otherwise diminish the originality (or inherent lack thereof!) of its existence.

    Sex is completely stale when you break it down to its most base level. HNW is no different.

    Don't get me wrong - I think it's fantastic to discuss and debate about HNW. But the way in which those discussions, debates and 'verdicts' arise and are carried out can ruin it.

  6. Furthermore, I don't mean to say that it isn't important to be actively aware of how we experience and appreciate HNW, either. There's just such a fine line between sharing experiences/describing an appreciation, and dictating what it is that makes a 'good wall' and a 'bad wall.'

  7. Och, I don't know. I mean there are pros and cons. Sometimes it seems like a compromise of the 'nihilism' to develop but overall it depends on how you view nihilism. I suspect Pu-ha and many others, including myself sometimes, are content to opt for total, uncompromising negation and nothing more. It has its attractions. But ultimately I would go along the nietzschean line and prefer a more positive approach to nihilism. That is to say, ride the beast of destruction against others but tame it for my/our own purposes. As I said on another post here, creation is more satisfying when it comes from destruction - well it goes both ways: destruction is better if you use it to create. Currently 'art' may sicken us but if we erode the concept enough so that we may make it our own then there is no reason not to redevelop it in our own image. This is maybe why the Rita is one of the best HNW 'artists' - he began with an outright destruction of our preconceptions of what harsh noise could be by pushing it to ludicrous extremes and now he has begun to recreate it in his own image with his current (mind-blowing) release 'Decima MAS'. Having said that though, Vomir remains an undisputed king and he has yet to compromise his extreme approach.

  8. I think HNW is a statement of nihilism, but I also find the sounds enjoyable.

    You could record complete silence. That would be pure nihilism, but we wouldn't enjoy it as much.

    My point is that everyone seems to care so much about the philosophy, while nobody cares about how awesome the sound really is (except for the reviewers).

  9. Mate, I don't think you read the original blog post you've commented on. I was considering how reviews might move onto commenting more thoroughly about the sound than the philosophy. To whit, read this quote from Roger Batty over on Musique Machine:

    "a mid-pace rolling & crunching static boil which has some nice speaker rippling & crackling semi tones come off of it. At times it feels like jitters & crackles could suddenly join-up together & speed-up into all out overload, but they never do. It just keeps a steady, mid-pace & entrenched path through-out"

    This is exactly the development I was anticipating. Best HNW review so far. More of this please!

  10. Agreed w/ 'eroding the concept enough to make it our own.' It makes sense. Having said that, there's a lot to be said, as you've pointed out, for sticking to zero developments, like Vomir.

    Who knows where all of this will lead...?