Wilt is the primary project of Illinois-based musician James Keeler. The moniker has been around for, amazingly enough, at least seventeen years, churning out a fair amount of releases in the meantime. Much of Wilt’s work has been issued via their own Institute for Organic Conversations imprint, but they have collaborated with many prestigious artists and labels beyond it, ranging from Prurient, Theologian, and En Nihil to Chondritic Sound, Bloodlust!, and (if you’ll allow me a brief moment of self-promotion) Turgid Animal.
This particular pro-pressed CD-R (which is probably the most hated format in noise history, surpassing even the dreaded spray-painted CD-R) was released in 2014 by Arvo Zylo‘s No Part of It. Apparently, Nocturnal Requiem is something of a Chicago inside-job.
Nocturnal Requiem was a strange beast to review. The first four or five times I attempted to listen to it, rigorously on headphones, I was in deplorable conditions to say the least. Half asleep, drenched in sweat, and on the verge of passing out, the weird, bleak, eerie, and disquieting sounds of Wilt induced equally strange and vivid dreams of metallic wastelands and a sort of negative version of the barren mountains of my hometown. Maybe that would have made more sense with a Voïvod record, but it was very intense nonetheless.
When I finally managed to listen to the whole album consciously and in a decent setting, my impressions were confirmed: Nocturnal Requiem is a plunge in total decay, death, and quasi-melancholic occult soundscapes.
The now-classic pairing of seventies/eighties cinematic ambient synthesizers and murky, dirty noise works unusually well here. Much of the time when musicians try to do this, one of two elements tends to overwhelm the other, or the mix just ends up sounding like two records playing at the same time. Instead, in Wilt’s case, the synths sound distant, cold, and otherworldly, while the boiling, brooding, almost incessant noise filth is never invasive, holding up perfectly well as counterpoint or sound carpet. I imagine this is pretty close to what John Carpenter would be playing now if he got into early Mauthausen Orchestra thirty years ago.
The occasional metal junk bashing and classic, slow industrial loops enrich the array of sounds and blend in well with them. It perfectly conveys that bizarre impression of listening to some imaginary, massive rusty factories working and rotting in the distance that’s a staple of old-school industrial music.
I’d really have to recommend Nocturnal Requiem to synth, dark ambient, and noise fanatics alike. There are many details to discover with multiple listens, and the album doesn’t get old easily. Perhaps I’ve been listening to too much dungeon synth lately, so my judgment very well may be clouded by visions of rolling D20 dice and broken pencils, but I think that Nocturnal Requiem would make for excellent background music for a Call of Cthulhu roleplaying session.
01) A Wandering Echo
02) Even the Most Ancient Things Lie in the Weeds of Present Time
03) Moon Diver
04) Over Waters Hidden Below
05) The Autobiography of Dreams
06) The Starless Vault of Heaven