Whether you are simply familiar with noise and its sub-genres, or are deeply invested in the practice (as a listner, or creator) – at some point you’ve become aware at the notion such as, “Making noise is easy”, “anyone can do it” “takes no musical talent”. The latter statement does ring true, as some of the greatest works have been created by individuals who had no music training to any degree. Ostensibly, the sentiment that anyone can do it may also be true, though the defining factor in this instance is that not everyone does. It is an expression that uses sonic components in extremities that results as an outlet predominantly of the maker. While one does not take a careerist approach to making extreme art or noise, when the listener can appreciate the energies and emotions that such compositions can convey, it is the greatest reward for the maker. It is surely a scientific fact that certain frequencies correlate with the brain and can unlock certain emotions and in turn creates a particular phenomena. “Even though making noise is a simple thing anyone can do, but at the other end of the noise lies the maker, who clearly reveals their self“ says Hiroshi Hasegawa, of the legendary C.C.C.C in 1995’s “Art Demolition” – a short film highlighting a festival in taiwan which includes pieces additionally on Con-Dom, Killer Bug and more. Here, we have prolific and the emotive expressions of En Nihil on his recent EP on Black Artifact Records, “The Ghosts’ We Keep” EP.
En Nihil (originally Nihil) is the solo outfit of Adam Fritz, whose discography began in 1994, and more notably in 1996 with a self released (on his hobby label titled Isolation) “The Crimson Pool”. Active in a prolific manner, Fritz has cycled through his own personal journey which has been relative to his physical output. He states in this recent episode of Noise Extra that he began listening to early industrial groups like Skinny Puppy and that language spoke to him. With a yearning to create an avenue for his own creative output, he began manipulating tape machines, and what he would call “very crude tape experiments” and would go on to use very primitive samplers and seemingly whatever was accessible to him at the time; while he could not imagine using sequencers and he references that he is not musically inclined. Noise Extra is a podcast that is operated out of Los Angeles, America, and is responsible for some of the most introspective conversations with an array of noise artists. I highly recommend not only their podcast with Adam to hear his developments personally, and with the project – though all of their episodes as it’s a great service and avenue that is well curated, community oriented and quite well thought out. I could go on to tell Adam’s story, though I encourage you to check out the podcast and dig deeper into the golden treasures that Noise Extra Podcast keeps. Though Adam is open about his struggles with depression, anxiety and substance abuse issues outright in the podcast, it wasn’t until I have had the honor to share conversations with Fritz on the subjects, as I struggle and have struggled greatly with those things as well. It is without a doubt that this informs the work and general aesthetic of En Nihil and the thematic content. What I have learnt about Adam is that not only is the work genuine and comes from a real place, he does not waver his ethos and putting principles before personalities. The noise community is not a place for careerists’ and one has to be dedicated to their craft and impervious to the critique of others. Reaching the project’s 30th year anniversary and in what is referred to in the Noise Extra Podcast as the 3rd era – Fritz’ leads by example. Detached from any scenes or infighting within, certainly not a participant of any hatred, judgment, harsh critique, call out culture nor anything of that matter – Fritz is not concerned, and I have seen him give a number of people not only the benefit of doubt, though forgiveness. I do not think there is any mal intent that possesses him as an individual, and the thematics and content matter of his work (often surrounding ideas of death) comes from a place that is certainly not convoluted, nor victimized. It comes from a place that is deeply scared and acts as a necessity to escape, and no one will or can take this away from him.
An ethereal drone fades quickly into multiple layers of ripping harsh noise, jabbing at the flesh, rhythmic sample and hold, white noise functions transforming every few moments. A feedback begins to bleed through, a high pitched atonal bleeding over-driven force in a waging war, while the aforementioned harsh noise structures increase in variation, volume and if you will a rising tension. As all things that rise, the predominant overtones come to a complete still, and what remains is aforementioned the ethereal drone – though only for moments. We are brought back to Adam’s erratic, unpredictable and assaulting sonic arrangements. Moments of silence bring the introduction to this sonic journey to a close, with faint white noise, and synthetic structures at lower volumes, a beautiful segway to a slower movement. Soaked in spring reverb, the slow modulations & modulated feedback takes its time cultivating fast changes of heavily distorted, highpass filtered, almost dissonance low end rumble Obstructed by what feels is at conflict with some high end triggered, perhaps manually beat out a-rhythmic collisions. A higher form, a brighter energy perhaps, is introduced in juxtaposition while maintaining that heavily filtered & distorted harmonic structure. Feedback that is compelled by the logical manner and also the extra-sensory details in which different combinations can speak to one’s brain in a variable manner. The Ghosts We Keep comes to a final conclusion as the energy drastically shifts, largely due to the manner in which the tones are being manipulated, filtered, and processed – though at part also the manner in which Adam approaches the shift in sonic developments, into an almost march-like.. Dear I say funeral waltz, that decomposes and deteriorates as slowly as it rises. With slow white noise sweeps, battling fast modulations and drones, the decision making in which the palette of sounds are not only placed but treated – heavily in reverb, you can hear the ghosts that Fritz keeps.
Black Artifact is a relatively new, one man operation, who started the label in 2021 with the intention of releasing experimental music packaged in varying formats. Based out of Fort Worth, Texas, USA, the label director, Michael, who has a background in graphic design and creative direction has been successfully doing what he set out to do: curating and releasing a well-balanced and beautiful aesthetic, with some of the greatest contemporary experimental projects; notably Werewolf Jerusalem (Richard Ramirez, Prayer Rope, Misery Engine, Cementation Anxiety and many more. The catalog number on this release reads 032, and the booklet edition that accompanied a limited cassette release, with artwork by the amazing, also prolific (and Canadian) graphic designer Paul Van Trigt. Photographed below, you get Van Trigt’s signature xerox blend and decaying textures below – serving as a visually stunning, striking imagery to perfectly be paired with a similar dissonance that is “The Ghosts We Keep” EP by En Nihil. The label was sold out, though a few copies were uncovered and can be purchased here, or ask your local distro and make sure they are keeping abreast with what is to come from both En Nihil and Black Artifact.