Listening Through the Cracks in the Wall: RDCD Examined

Texan noise artist RDCD popped onto my radar rather suddenly in the middle of 2013. I’m not really aware of too many great sources of new noise, but a Facebook group I occasionally watch seemed dotted with the occasional RDCD video. Over time, curiosity got the best of me and I decided to click on a link or two. I quickly figured out that this was something I would enjoy, but never made much of it. I recently had the opportunity to sit with two complete albums that have been presented by TrangSao Releases, one a split and the other a proper full-length album, and I’d like to share my thoughts here with my readers.

hiroshi hasegawa rdcd split

To begin, I think it’s of interest to examine the split with Hiroshi Hasegawa. I’ll admit that I have pretty much no information on Hiroshi Hasegawa, although my fondness for his two tracks here warrants great interest, and a quick glance at Discogs indicates he’s been at this for quite some time. With approximately 26 minutes of meditative and elevated noise between the two different segments of “Unbodied Medium,” there is a lot of territory to cover.  With releases like this, it’s typically been my best bet to write as I experience it rather than trying to put things into technical terms. Technological chaos swarms to overwhelm the listener from the start, yet this piece has a form and motion to it rather than hanging stagnant and menacing above the listener. Instead, Hasegawa’s static cuts through itself, creating a scenario similar to a storm’s eye. There is a neutral spot in the middle of everything, around which the listener can hear the rotating and inconsistent chaos. It’s a true experience in focus and willfulness that is impressive from the start, but becomes heavier and almost liberating after prolonged exposure. Distorted radio signals battle with broken electronics for dominance at times, as Hasegawa slowly separates elements only to recombine them into something different. If anything, it sounds like the ever-shifting methods of communication that power modern society. This is some of the most effective noise manipulation to be released this year, sure to excite any fans of the genre, whether it’s in the densest depths of the first section or the humming minimalism towards the end of the second.

Paired with Hasegawa’s two “Unbodied Medium” pieces are two offerings from this article’s focal point, RDCD. “Sector 8” is a percussive, crumbling journey through a darkening corridor. After the initial onset of uncertainty, consciousness begins to seem illusory as harsher tones blanket the entire experience. The gaze of an oppressor is unavoidable. Destruction feels imminent, if it’s not occurring presently. It’s the painful sense of being observed and sized up at all times. Eventually, observation doesn’t need to occur. Wave after wave crashes in, vibrating violently with occasional higher frequencies darting in and around to keep the listener uneasy. The paranoia and terror, the conviction that any moment could be your last, is all that is left as “Sector 8” collapses in on the listener. The final track here, “Quad 57” opens with the sound of ceaseless wind and water that turns to electronic humming. The sense of being consumed by a machine becomes readily apparent. The concept of nature being succumbed and incorporated into technological nightmares seems to be RDCD’s strength here, as the electronic crackling seems to squirm around like a hungry parasite while broader textures envelop any free space that could have remained empty or loose. Tension reigns supreme throughout, rounding out an entirely worthy CD with only the briefest moment of that familiar wind sound before fading back to nothing.

rdcd crack in the wall

RDCD’s next work presented here is Crack in the Wall, an album consisting of nine untitled dizzying aural experiments. Whereas the split with Hiroshi Hasegawa feels like a single vision, each of these tracks is a separate experience. The first track spirals with heavily altered and manipulated vocals, blurred into something unrecognizable and stretched to create a pure vortex of horror. In less than four minutes, it manages to capture all the insanity of the previous album and place it into a claustrophobic piece that is unsettling in its pace. The second track’s composition is similar, although the warping and stretching of the vocals is even more pronounced, heading ever downward, like water filtering down the drain. It’s after a couple tracks that the intent becomes stronger for the listener. While the name might have implied a collection of harsh noise wall tracks, this is instead a varied batch of songs with constant motion and progress. The flow is almost unstoppable, as each track grows from its roots into something potentially unrecognizable. If anything, this feels like the companion to a wall. In a lot of harsh noise wall tracks, phantom sounds and patterns emerge. This feels like the aggregate of those sounds, the gaps that one’s brain typically fills in when presented with something so massive and constant. Highlights along the way include the third track, a manic journey filled with beeps and sirens that call to mind broken arcade consoles as they’re ground to pieces, the fourth track, a smothering cloud of filth and depraved vocal bursts with occasional metallic squeals, and the twenty minute immersion in high-frequency bliss and misery that closes the album out. If you’re looking to lose yourself in heavy currents of noise that will fill up every spare moment, this release is waiting for you. It’s something of an endurance test at times, but a brief visit to dangerous territory is a good way to clean your head.