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Walls David Stubbs , May 18th, 2010 06:54

Walls are a duo comprising Alessio Natalizia (Banjo Or Freakout) and Sam Willis of Djs/producers/label owners Allez Allez. They met when Willis was on remixing duties for Natalizia. Their short but densely packed debut situates itself in a sort of war zone somewhere between Techno and the frazzled neo-rock of Animal Collective, or maybe Boards Of Canada and My Bloody Valentine.

Theirs is a combination of Natalizia's buzzing, serrated, treated guitars counterpointed with Willis's synths, in which malevolent backbeats and warmer electronic climes combine. As such they are very much on the outer edges of the Kompakt empire but a very fine addition to it, not least since most of Kompakt's roster are on its outer edges. Opener 'Burnt Sienna' reminds of the first few moments of Faust's first album, a slow-burning act of premeditated analogue arson, which then swirls up into a fuzzy Phoenix of a riff. 'Hang Four''s gnarly backbeat marches in robotic quicktime across a gravel of human skull fragments onto sunnier uplands of melodic guitar reverb. 'A Virus Waits!' is a sub-three minute sustained bout of streptococcus-like gnawing, while 'Soft Cover People' is like some post-apocalypse exchange of terms between the campfire forces of post-rock and the ragged remains of the electronica brigade.

'Strawberry Sect' is slight but something else again, a wispy trail of backward guitar pursued by a champing, scrunching electronic Pacman. 'Gaberdine' is as close to straight as Wall gets, a Technopop jet-black grid reminiscent of Suicide but with gathered electronic moss of its own. Finally, the giddily vertiginous 'Austerlitz Wide Open' sees Walls spin out on a concluding series of customised drones, loops and high-pitched sirens. Largely without vocals, except for the occasional, odd burst of wordless chanting from Natalizia, Walls is a cryptic oddity unto itself, a record made as if solely to defy category or cross-comparisons, all of which fall a little short, including my own. There is the joy. You can't dance to it as such, you can't chill to it, you can't decode it. All you can do is stand, sit or lie back and admire it.