Review: Wilbury Scum – 136 (self-released, Sep 2)

As someone who was deeply affected by being assaulted by the boys in blue during my own mental health crisis, Letchworth Garden City project Wilbury Scum, described by the artist behind it as “a way of trying to get to grips with [the] experience” of being “sectioned by the police and taken to A&E,” truly resonates with me. In the aftermath, they heavily manipulated sounds and spaces captured in the immediate area of the incident via DAW to produce the recordings that comprise 136, an engrossing tour-de-force of brittle, fractured wall(ish) noise whose microscopic, insectoid texture worlds rival that of actual insect recordings (see Jana Winderen’s The Noisiest Guys on the Planet, Dave Phillips’ Insect, Tom Lawrence’s Water Beetles of Pollardstown Fen). To experience such brutal, callous treatment and violence while in such a vulnerable state is a profound violation, a perceptional and emotional fracturing that leaves an already compromised mind even more damaged; Wilbury Scum’s lengthy chain-link quilts of seething statics and caustic, surgical processing are a mesmeric but no less harrowing embodiment of that painful state, in a way immortalizing it in a safely external vessel. As it crunches and crackles like cold blue flames over dry wood, 136 can be whatever you want it to be—though I do adore the music, I don’t wish it being what it is for me, or for the artist, on anyone else.