Bastard Noise have an extensive discography of very limited and hard to find releases, among which Skull Wave stands out for at least two reasons. First, it consists of a single, continuous 46-minute improvisation (live at Claremont Forum, August 3, 2002). Second, it remains very ambient, throughout. Descent to Mimas' title track and some material on Throne Is Melting had already hinted at this direction, especially since of late Sissy Spacek had become John Wiese's favorite vehicle for unleashing harsh noise assaults. But Skull Wave surprises and impresses by its maturity in orchestrating noises of the drone kind into a compelling abstract audio drama. If the album provides a more comfortable listen (for instance, Eric Wood doesn't sing/recite/scream on this one), it could hardly be described as peaceful or even enjoyable. The universe of Bastard Noise is a dark, gloomy place, but now these feelings are conveyed more subversively through drones of disembodied voices, electrical currents, and mutilated instruments that occasionally rise menacingly, retreating a second before it would have been too late. Fans who hold dear the rhetorics and insignias of the noise culture may feel betrayed at first, but if Bastard Noise ever deserved the consideration of a wider experimental music community (and they have), it is with Skull Wave.
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