Blackwatch – “S/T” Album Review (noise/power electronics)


A perfect juxtaposition of the chaotic and the calm, the found and the created, the constant and moving… our offering today is the self-titled release from noise artist Blackwatch.

Not much is known about the Blackwatch project which as is in many cases, makes it all the more interesting and subjects us to observe without intrusion of context.

This self-titled release contains 8 tracks.  Here we have a case where the levels in the mix make ALL the difference in our ability to subjectively interpret the artist’s intent.  Track 1, “To The Last Man,” we find ourselves listening to some minimally distracting analog noise over some sampled dialog followed by male singing voice.  It’s like witnessing an uncomfortable act from behind a thick panel of glass.  In track 2, “Identity,” we have a similar effect but the background noises appear to be more natural/cinematic with the distorted male voice added.  Presumably this is the artist as it does not sound like a sample.  

The same voice appears in track 4, “Our Cross” behind another think analog noise.  Track 5, “Fetters Rent In Twain” and 6, “Mad Dog” bring a huge difference with a lot of low rumbling noise and upper frequency fluctuating noise.  That same voice almost seems to merge in with the wall of static thereby leaving it even more inaudible.  Vocal samples return in track 7, “Retreat” but are somewhat swallowed by a plane of noise and some rapidly pulsating beats.  Closing out the album in a pulsating wave of analog noise is “Shenandoah,” with the apocalyptic distorted male voice yelling.  

While on an abstract level it is somewhat difficult to interpret what the artist is trying to do with this, on some level that is irrelevant.  What we do know is that there is something a bit different and unique about this album.  It is an experimentation with different degrees of clarity and distraction; of degree of distance; of separating the listener from the “scenes” created by the background sounds but then bringing them in closer in other circumstances.  With that said, this release appears to be the product of a lot of thought and foresight about the experience of the listener.  

This is a digital-only release and available through Blackwatch’s Bandcamp page.

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