Quentin Rhys of Oregon/California based project Wet Dream Asphyxiation is a truly underrated master of HNW. A visionary in his approach, “The Ripper” is, without a doubt, one of the best outputs of 2013. This release is a culmination of impressive characteristics that entrance the listener for it’s slim twenty-five minute lifespan, delivering us from mediocrity and monotony with an exhilarating take on the classic monolithic sound.
Over the course of four tracks, the emphasis on generating powerful walls with mid/high range texture becomes a focal point. In opposition to the current trend within the HNW scene (a trend that relies heavily on low-end crunching rather than seething high-end), Rhys takes the initiative to develop complex pieces with unique layering techniques and (nearly) ANW nuances. Droning low-end tones fill one end of “The Ripper”’ while the crunching, physical aspect is consumed by a range of frequencies that not only contrast the droning but synchronize in a bizarre, exhilarating manner.
Low-end acts a foundational element for the fragile garnish that will ultimately be laid upon it (with the only exception being the second track which features a strictly crumbling bass formula, however, unlike traditional HNW tracks of this nature, the churning belly of this beast is rife with splintering static and an unusual bellow that makes this piece just as interesting and innovative as the other three). The illusion of movement and invisible tones are carefully placed throughout the duration of “The Ripper”, and often times the listener will have to replay these anomalies over-and-over again to determine if they actually exist, or if they are all a mirage cast by the veil of the wall itself. Track three in particular generates these auditory hallucinations with an underutilized finesse that any fanatic of the genre will find delightful (and throw the newer listeners for a total loop). The closer begins with a sample, a tactic that pays homage to the strict tradition of horror-based HNW to mind before jumping into one of the most important tracks of 2013. There just aren’t enough positive words to be said about this piece... a white-washed rapid of thick, swirling texture is thrust into motion while a looming high-end drone that shares an uncanny resemblance to the sound of a glass armonica (an instrument played with the sliding of wet fingertips along the ridges of a wine-glass). Where is this movement coming from? It’s behind you... it’s in front of you... it’s beside you... it’s inside you...does it exist at all? Only with repeated listens, both with intense focus and with casual focus, can one understand the depths of these pieces.
Unlike contemporaries, “The Ripper” has a stupefying replay value that never ceases to deliver an entrancing listening experience throughout it’s entirety. Quentin Rhys is an overlooked mastermind behind the purest form of sound that is HNW, and “The Ripper” is a testament to not only his genius, but to his desire to push the boundaries of what makes tradition a tradition, what makes genre-specifications bend, and how to develop towering structures without cliched tones and trademark formulas. As a HNW traditionalist myself, I find it increasingly difficult to have any interest in projects with such a wide-range of elements, however, Wet Dream Asphyxiation (alongside a handful of other projects that will be receiving reviews in the future) are purists in their art yet groundbreaking in their delivery and approach. “The Ripper” is a modern-masterpiece and an absolute “need” for any fan of the genre (new and old). Highest recommendations.