Whether you like it or not, noise music is waiting to embrace you. The way its pulsating fragmented sound, often heavily textural, envelops you in a sound world is something quite awe-inspiring. Of course, its job isn’t to soothe you; usually, it may summon dark thoughts, reflections on isolation, or grief, but for those adventurous enough to pierce its chambers, there is a reassuring quality to the best noise. You already experience noise in ways you may have overlooked for those uninitiated, utilized in film scores; great noise music can elicit strong emotional reactions, just as the best of any music genre can. In its envelopment, it centers you; I often find myself grounded when experiencing a record of noise or drone.
And as a noise and drone lover, I’m always looking for new artists within the genre to explore; the qualities I mentioned above keep me coming back for more. Fortunate for me that The Night Porter, based in the UK, is embracing you in just this way. A purveyor of experimental and raucous noise, The Night Porter, puts out releases that assault the listener, but we tend to love a bit of relentless onslaught as fans of noise. And that’s not to say there isn’t variety in the music’s character. On the contrary, the quite prolific musician’s releases cover the spectrum of noise, from extreme aggression and screeching feedback to more plaintive ambient vibrations.
The cover art of The Night Porter’s releases, carry the look of found images, reminiscent of noise bands like Prurient, highlight grotesque imagery that antagonizes potential listeners while acting as intriguing visions meant to provoke an uncanny beckoning from the unknown. The imagery is a fitting aesthetic choice. However, the abrasiveness of the visuals is surpassed by the electronically manipulated torment filtered through their setup.
This Abysmal Sea, a recent release from the quite prolific noisemaker, contains four compositions that bleed into one another across its playtime, becoming a sort of nightmare-scape soundtrack. It can work two ways; active listening suits those that like to dissect the sounds that go into making this sort of music and, as a bizarro world ambient album, left to seethe in the background. God Help Us layers thick drones atop sampled vocals that create as close to an audible equivalent of hearing a fleeting moment corrode as it plays out. A sort of voyeuristic lens by which we all realize the imminent deterioration of our strength, beauty, and relationships.
Medusa and I am you and we are liars also extend this property in a more subdued style. “Medusa’s” “Pt. 2” is a highlight as it slowly unfurls from a steady pulsating loop into a static-filled siren toward the end. “We make promises on empires of sand” is a simply gorgeous opener for I am you and we are liars, it’s one of The Night Porter’s quieter compositions, at once sounding like an ambient campfire or the slow disintegration of the flesh, it’s up to you to decide.
On the harsher side, Cramped Confinement is more menacing, offering three piercing compositions that offer little comfort. Similarly, Zoë Lund is an eleven-minute assault opening with a muffled vocal sample before relentlessly flooding the speakers with strident blistering tones. Littered across his discography are split records with other noise musicians. These are worth checking out as I find they feature some of The Night Porter’s more gut-wrenching work, bordering on sludge metal, Talking Smith, a split with Rural Noise, is a new favorite.
The Night Porter’s music suits itself well to a deep dive for extreme music fans. With twenty-two releases, getting through it all requires a bit of persistence; however, there is a reward in listening. You can only speculate the direction they will head next; each record is a showcase for the variety and subtlety of noise. I’m sure more releases are oncoming, and for someone moderately new to the game, I’m thrilled to keep up with them as they progress. Until the next move, I have their entire discography to familiarize myself better.
Although not on major streaming platforms, all of The Night Porter’s music is available to purchase on Bandcamp; following them on Instagram is also a great way to stay updated on their future endeavors.