From the packaging to the contents within, Cyclopean Wall‘s first demo cassette is a thing of strange and humbling beauty. A project of sole member Noah Gadke, Cyclopean Wall seems to revel in appreciation of effects, tone, and the timeless appeal of heavy fuzz. Gadke doesn’t list the exact tools used in his compositions, which aren’t given proper names so much as indications of length, but it seems that this collection of experimental drone is primarily based on heavily altered guitar work. While many artists have joined the camp of SunnO)))’s bleak, minimalist guitar drone in recent years, Cyclopean Wall remains an experimental project just as much as it is drone, with each song growing and shifting within its own small framework.
The cassette’s opener, “9:05” swells in with a couple of clean notes setting a melodic structure over a rapidly expanding crackle of distorted, blown-out, pitch-shifting fuzz. The song’s final minute brings the only real peace, but even the sparseness of the closing chords brings more of the emptiness of nonexistence than the relief of unburdening. The effect of the artist’s approach, melding familiar and completely unsettling musical concepts, comes across like some bastard child of a death cinematic’s empty city soundtracks and the aftermath of a harsh noise artist being asked to perform with only a guitar at his or her disposal. It’s emotionally charged in a way, yet the effect is neutralizing and overpowering, forcing the listener into a specific state rather than allowing for the wandering of thoughts. The precision and fury of the music, singular as it is, is what makes Cyclopean Wall so evocative and stunning. Stare at the artwork long enough and it’ll seem to shift before your eyes, especially with the humbling heaviness of “8:45” accompanying your experience.
The album isn’t all oppressive all the time, however, with many of the strongest moments appearing as the moments in between allow each crackle and warped sound to fully shift through the listener’s mind before the next comes. The sheer scope of things here makes both subtlety and abrasive fury equally relevant, as one would not be nearly as important without its opposite on hand to cultivate the listener’s thorough awareness. While this is apparently the first demo from an artist geared to release more music upon the world (a second, slightly shorter cassette has been released in the past couple months), it’s evident that Gadke either spent quite a bit of time focusing on Cyclopean Wall’s sound before unleashing it upon the world, or we’re all in for a major treat. Grab a tape while they last and brace yourselves for more good things to come.