Hannes Kretzer ~ Black Noise

The term black noise can refer to a type of noise that is nearly silent, or to another type that is simply dark.  Hannes Kretzer‘s brand is the latter, although it also allows room for glimmers of light.  Much of this comes through the participation of friends on the Unperceived roster, most notably Himmelsrandt.  Due to the guests, it takes a while for Black Noise to drift from ambience and modern composition to drone: in terms of mood, a downward spiral that honors the title.

The title of opener “Fucked Up Anthem,” is initially off-putting due to the beauty of the music.  One wonders where the description is coming from.  But perhaps this beauty, seen in retrospect, is viewed as a mask removed, a hope retracted, a rug pulled out from underneath.  The next title is similarly double-minded, as cæ is an Irish word for heavenly but when vowels are separated, an urban slang word for a person who experiences bad luck and is hated for no reason.  The title is repeated throughout the song in a manner that seems nearly an epithet.  The album becomes a reflection of its era, a time in which many human beings are wondering what happened to the dreams of global unity that were so prevalent only a few years ago.  We wonder, “Did we cause this?  Did we allow it?”  As the villain of the latest “Mission: Impossible” film warns Ethan Hunt, “The end you’ve always feared is coming.  The blood will be on your hands ~ the fallout of all your good intentions.”

“I Saw Waves Coming” is a prophecy in word and sound.  In “Drops in the Ocean,” the tones begin as tendrils, but the drone soon drowns all dissenting voices.  One can be forgiven for intuiting a political corollary.  This is black noise indeed.  The longest piece on the album at 11:22, it’s still not long enough.  There’s still room for more density and volume, pushing the red levels to their limit.  Perhaps Kretzer holds back a little in order to offer a slender bar of hope.  It can still be worse, he seems to say, but the flip side is, so it can also get better.  The closing chime tones are a brief yet welcome encouragement, expanded in the subsequent track, whose unexpected brightness feels like a gift.  Strings sound a soft requiem before a rapid volume surge and return to tonal bleakness.  “L05” provides the other bracket to “Drops,” and yes, here come those waves.

While Black Noise bears a note of inevitability, it still leaves the door open just a crack.  The filtered female vocals of “Farewell” come across as a balm until they become gargled and sped.  Kretzer seems to be saying, “listen before it’s too late.”  If we allow the black noise of darkness to take over, we will eventually be engulfed by the black noise of silence.  (Richard Allen)

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