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Dean Spunt / John Wiese - The Echoing Shell Music Album Reviews

Dean Spunt / John Wiese - The Echoing Shell Music Album Reviews
The first full-length collaboration between the No Age drummer and the harsh noise musician plays like a simmering, abstract hallucination.

Dean Spunt and John Wiese have spent their careers pushing and prodding at punk music from different angles. As one half of No Age, Spunt imbues old-school punk rock with the sublime, layering his Ramones-y songs with shimmering walls of distortion until they become heavenly, larger-than-life anthems. Wiese takes an uglier path, creating harsh noise under his own name and churning out teeth-gnashing grindcore with his shapeshifting group Sissy Spacek. Though their approaches may differ, both artists have found invigorating ways to toy with the limits of their genres, reconfiguring them into beautiful, bizarre new shapes and becoming godfathers of L.A. DIY in the process.

The Echoing Shell is the pair’s first full-length collaboration, and stylistically the album sits in Wiese’s side of the court. Working with Spunt’s loose, flowing drum patterns, Wiese utilizes his ear-prickling collage editing style to transform the drum kit into a vehicle for long-form, harsh-noise hallucinations. In some ways, it feels like a follow-up to Wiese’s 2007 release Soft Punk; but where that album spliced live recordings from punk shows into an exhilarating, avant-garde hurricane, The Echoing Shell is a more elegant dalliance into noise, focusing instead on the lingering tone of crash cymbals left hanging in the air, or the way Spunt’s crisp hi-hats bounce off Wiese’s fizzling undercurrent of feedback. Every small interaction between the two musicians is rife with subtle details that reward close listening, each tense moment of silence hinting at a ruthless chaos threatening to break loose.

There is little to differentiate each of the album’s sidelong tracks—titled “Fruit From Color Vapor” and “Black Fruit,” respectively—aside from the latter lending itself more to full-on blasts of hellish feedback. For the most part, The Echoing Shell is more simmering than stinging. In the opening minutes of the album, Wiese twists Spunt’s tapped cymbals into a haunting, mangled apparition, until about two minutes in when an onslaught of noise bursts like a demonic entity clawing to be let out. Spunt consistently turns his drums into their own textural playground, like near the end of “Black Fruit,” when he begins to click his sticks all along the edges of the kit. As he unleashes jazzy fills into empty space, Wiese takes a magnifying glass to the snare hits, enlarging them until they’re as blown out as an overexposed polaroid. Even if the sounds feel abstract, the duo makes them flow as naturally as any other jam session.

Throughout The Echoing Shell, Spunt and Wiese make the dissonance seem almost graceful. All of the duo’s sine tones dance at the upper end of the register, always hovering just below the threshold where it might actually start to become grating. Rather than waging a full-on assault, they opt for surgical precision, panning back and forth and cresting on a constant stream of free-associative noise logic. It may start to blur together if you let it drift into the background, but listen intently and The Echoing Shell offers worlds of hypnotic interplay, as visceral and intense as any punk record.

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Dean Spunt / John Wiese - The Echoing Shell Music Album Reviews Dean Spunt / John Wiese - The Echoing Shell Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, May 27, 2022 Rating: 5

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