Posts Tagged ‘Paranoid’

Panarus Productions – 25th January 2019

Sometimes, I don’t help myself. I allow myself to disappear down rabbit holes of hypertext and to indulge myself in the worst, most mentally unhealthy ways while writing thinly-veiled work of fiction. Right what you know, right? Only, when what you know is anxiety laced with paranoia from two decades of exposure to corporate culture and rolling television news, gravitating towards the things you feel you should know more about to bolster the experiences of what you know, the echo-chamber of confirmation-bias just becomes a screaming howl of endless reverb.

And depressingly often, sooner or later, life imitates art. Over the last few days, I’ve received texts from friends telling me they’re witnessing scenes reminiscent of Retail Island at the very retail park that inspired the book. It was of course inevitable: in a time when the news channels have evolved into irony-free replicas of The Day Today, it’s night-on impossible to separate Ballardian dystopias located in credibly near futures from news reportage.

It was similarly inevitable that I would gravitate towards this release by Heat Death Of The Sun – or, moreover, that it would otherwise find me one way or another. The label promises

‘half an hour oppressive electronics’ and a work that’s ‘very much the soundtrack to some kind of automated authoritarian surveillance network’. Of course I’m sold.

The first of the album’s five tracks, ‘Currency of Faith’ opens with a recording of Dylan Thomas reading ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ in expansive, ominous tones: slowly, low, rumbling drones begin to eddy around and slow, deliberate beats crash in like thunder. Before long, it’s built into a claustrophobic buzz with extraneous noise surges and a monotonous industrial rhythm clattering, half-submerged but cutting through the murk with a sharp metallic edge. Oppressive is the word, and not even a choral intervention can lift the atmosphere beyond subterranean dankness.

A tension-inducing uptempo beat – an insistent clicking hammer that thumps and thumps and thumps – introduces ‘The Relentless Pound of Austerity’ and continues to thump away monotonously for over ten minutes, amidst a whirling eddy of off-key atonality, a midrange buzzing and a collage of samples. There’s no way you can get comfortable listening to this as you feel your heartbeat increasing and your jaw clenching spontaneously, especially near the end when a shriek of digital feedback increases to an unbearable, ear-splitting level and engulfs everything. It’s fucking horrible – and as such, it’s the perfect soundtrack to the now, the lack of levity and lack of breathing space the sonic representation of the inescapable blizzard of media we’re subjected to all day, every day.

Guiding the listener through a bleak soundscape of dark ambience pinned together by monotonous rhythms, the experience of listening to this album is an uncomfortable one: even the delicate twitter of birdsong is imbued with a sense of impending doom. And it leads down the path which culminates in the pounding industrial grind of the title track. Awkward oscillations shiver behind a slow electronic beat while mechanical noise and voices echo into the abyss for eight full minutes, spreading an atmosphere of dislocation and alienation that fittingly draws the album to a stark, cold close.

Heat Death

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Southern Lord – 10th June 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

For the uninitiated, 偏執症者 translates as ‘Paranoid’. But despite the logographic characters, 偏執症者 are, in fact, Swedish, although their brand of full-on, fiery, D-beat hardcore punk is heavily influenced by Japanese noise. Satyagraha, first released in 2015, is their first full-length album. Full-length is relative and contextual, of course: with ten tracks and a combined running time of under twenty-eight minutes, it’s shorter than the majority of individual tracks on the latest Swans album. Of course, this squally, thrashy mess of noise exists in an entirely different realm from the new Swans album, and in many ways stands at the very opposite end of the spectrum of antagonistic noise.

The impact of the album relies on its frenetic, breakneck speed, and its relentlessness. Satyagraha does not offer texture or range: it’s an all-out assault, and the album’s primary objective is to slam everything home at full tilt, optimal speed and maximum volume. It’s no bad thing, and it certainly works for them. It’s an album that begins as it continues, with the blistering wall of noise that is ‘Kaihou’. The guitar sound is so mangled, distorted, metalicised and trebled up to the max that it sounds more like power electronics than anything from the rock side of the musical spectrum. It’s an obscene, brutal assault, relentless, remorseless, unforgiving.

The vocals on ‘Bouryoku’ are hollering, screaming, blind with rage, are spewed forth into an infinite cavern of reverb, while the guitars fire so hot they could strip paint. From amidst the squalling bluster of noise, a guitar solo emerges. The shrieking feedback and dense mass of treble on ‘Shisuru Sekai, Iki Jigoku is the sound of a new kind of punishment, before the thunderous drums and bass – for the first time apparent on the album – ratchet up to demolition to the power of ten on ‘Shihaisya’. This is one to play loud.

The final track – by far the album’s longest – sounds like an entirely different band and entirely different album, the soft, analogue instrumental belonging to another world. And yet it works and curiously, it fits, revealing a very different facet of the band, and one which is not unpleasant: quite the opposite, in fact, and it serves to soothe the senses in the wake of the punishment inflicted by the nine preceding tracks. As if the brute force of those tracks weren’t already enough to separate 偏執症者 from their peers, then this truly clinches it, concluding a devastating album in intriguing style.

It’s one hell of an album, and one absolutely hellish album. Visceral and intense, even by D-beat standards, Satyagraha qualifies as an essential work.

Paranoid