Having played an integral part in establishing scenes in Chicago, New York and San Francisco, Weasel Walter has been a key player in noise and no-wave since he first started recording in 1990. He has made his reputation by playing in and producing countless noise bands and establishing the Chicago Improvised Music Workshop (attended by the likes of Kevin Drumm and Jim O’Rourke). As adept an improvisational performer as he is a composer, Walter is one of today’s most pervasive and creative people.
Throughout his impressive career, Walter has put a great deal of his energy into the Flying Luttenbachers, a menacing, death-jazz grind band of which he has been the only permanent member. The Void, the band’s thirteenth album, is a monstrous and punishing record that was, to quote the liner notes, “inspired by the boundless stupidity, greed and destruction perpetuated by the fools who control our fate.” With Walter composing and newcomers Ed Rodriguez (formerly of Colossamite and Iceburn) and Mike Green (who also plays in the Load Records act Burmese), The Void promised to be an ambitious and rewarding release.
And it is, without question, a masterful work. New depths of harmony, tempo and interplay between instruments are explored within the limits of guitar, bass and drums. As a composer, Walter proves his genius through determination and intentionality, with each sound having its place in the general cacophony.
Where the record succeeds in its sheer ambition, though, it fails in terms of dynamics and variety. Instead, The Void focuses on lengths of volume and noise. This is undoubtedly deliberate, but it limits the album’s impact and causes it to become repetitive.
Ultimately, The Void is fitting performance art for our current world climate. It conceptualizes “the death of democracy and the end of the human race” through music, an intention Walter confesses to in the liner notes. As an album, though, the album is too isolating in its approach and fails to pull the listener through each track. This is setback is minor, though. The Void emphasizes Walter’s musical intelligence, further reassuring that an album bearing his name, as frightening or unapproachable as it may seem, will be marked with quality.