Ambient Noise Wall (ANW) is a particularly specialized and niche subgenre within the noise music scene. At its core, it’s about the exploration of texture and sonic stasis. Unlike some other noise subgenres, which may include dynamics, shifts, or progression over time, Ambient Noise Wall endeavors to create a consistent, unchanging texture.
Origins and Influences:
Ambient Noise Wall has its roots in the broader noise and industrial music scenes, which blossomed in the late 1970s and 1980s. As artists in these genres pushed boundaries and sought new sonic territories, subgenres began to emerge, with ANW being one of the more focused and minimalistic offshoots.
- Sound: ANW is defined by its static nature. Once a particular sound texture is established, it remains consistent throughout the track. This creates an enveloping, almost hypnotic atmosphere.
- Texture Over Melody: There’s no melody, rhythm, or typical musical progression in ANW. Instead, it emphasizes tonal density, layering, and sonic texture.
- Volume and Intensity: While ANW can be played at any volume, it’s often intended to be experienced loudly, immersing the listener in the wall of sound.
- Duration: Tracks can be notably long, often extending well beyond standard song lengths. This extended duration reinforces the sense of stasis and immersion.
Notable Artists and Essential Albums:
- Vomir: One of the most recognized figures in the ANW scene, Vomir is known for his unwavering dedication to the purity of the noise wall concept. His release strategy often involves putting out numerous albums with little variation between them, further emphasizing the stasis of the genre.
- The Rita: While The Rita began with more dynamic harsh noise outputs, the artist eventually transitioned into ANW. Albums such as “Bodies Bear Traces of Carnal Violence” showcase his approach to the genre.
- Werewolf Jerusalem: This project, helmed by Richard Ramirez (not to be confused with the infamous serial killer of the same name), dives deep into static noise explorations. “Confessions of a Sex Maniac” is a quintessential release in this regard.
- Masonna: While primarily known for his frenetic and dynamic noise works, some of Masonna’s pieces can be seen as precursors or inspirations for ANW’s static textures.
- Torturing Nurse: While they have a broader range of noise styles, some of their works touch on the Ambient Noise Wall subgenre.
Reception and Influence:
Ambient Noise Wall’s unyielding textures and extended durations can be challenging even for dedicated fans of experimental music. However, for those who appreciate it, ANW can be a deeply meditative or even transcendental experience. The consistent texture can function somewhat like white noise, allowing listeners to lose themselves in the sound or even use it as a backdrop for meditation or concentration.
While ANW remains a niche genre, it’s a testament to the breadth and diversity of the noise music scene. It showcases how artists can extract a broad range of emotions and experiences from pure sound, without traditional musical elements like melody, rhythm, or progression.