Libbe Matz Gang's “Under the Chemical Cosh” opens with what I imagine the traffic in Ballard's Concrete island sounded like – Bedford vans and 1970's arctic-trucks slowly circling some sunken roundabout, exhaust-pipes flanged into a hyperimagined rumble-drone heard from, I dunno, inside a drainage conduit or underpass but ////let's stop this metaphor before it goes all Mark Fisher; though I do remember a friend in a barge bunk-bed, late summer, 1980, sing-speaking “There's no one driving...” in his sleep: John Foxx lyrics inserted into 3am somnambulic mumble; it was funny-but-fucking-freaky; thoughts surfacing, an anxiety-dream colliding with a song-lyric and oozing out into the world like cotton-wool ectoplasm hanging from the mouth of a bogus Edwardian spiritualist//// but, of course, LMG's music sounds absofuckingnothing like traffic whatsoever – I'm just projecting; everything reminds you of something else, right? – it's a throaty FX-laden pad, not 70's traffic, not a roundabout on the M23 that you're trying to hitch from (a rusty white van turns up, the doors open and ) – but it goes roundandround slowly in the mix – roundandround inside your head like a bad small-hours negative-thought-loop that won't go away until
At around 4 minutes, fluttering wings of treble enter the mix and you think it's gonna turn into hi-hats – like, here come the drums – but the reverse happens: the bass-drone recedes, like traffic-noise at night or a dream or a perceived threat, leaving muted flutterings – insect-wings heard on an old transistor radio; a drug-numbed tongue trying to speak – I remember what constituted so-called 'anti-depressants' in the late-70s; they were filthy fucking horrible drugs, barbiturate-like emotion-flatteners that left you low and dry, spittle-less, impotent, constipated, watching the world through a thick-bottomed brown Mackinsons bottle, a telescope the wrong-way-round, its lens covered in rancid butter everything reminds you of something else synth-modulations come and go, try and take hold, stick to something, but never quite grip – sounds / words / thoughts / emotions that can't quite surface.
8 minutes in, something truly awful arrives: a demonic bad-thought-voice clawing its way thru the cellars of your mind, switching lights on and off, pulling the drawers out of yr furniture, searching for something horrible, something you meant to lose; a memory you don't fucking want to have. The oscillations grow progressively nastier, more unpleasant, more fuzzy and furred up – taloned thought-forms scratching at your brain from within, their claws clogged with cobwebs, sharp/but/soft.
A machine that'll never make you better.
Coldsore's “The Significance of Nothing” starts all creamy, drifty, slide-y sinewaves – an ECG that turns into a slow-motion air-raid siren. Hints of early Tangerine Dream (Alpha Centauri-ish era? Atem?). Someone's reading your thoughts. They've got a machine that's teaching itself to do that. A voice, possibly imagined, low in the mix – your conscience, guilt, mother, a hypermediated world? - who knows, but something “is no longer available.” The tones flatten, shift to a lower register, become more 'machine'-like; they pulse, shift, whirr, move up and down relative to one another – not noisy, not nasty, but there's a vague sense of unease in the air and I find myself worrying, “Who is tending to them, these devices and gadgets? Who is in charge here?” Aircraft pass overhead – there's a threat of war – but it never quite materialises (symptoms of mediated 'fear' in a post-millennial world: there's always another 'war', another 'threat', another symptomless 'panic'; we live in a state of constant low-level anxiety – chimeric threat near-manifestation – the news-cycle lock-stepped with the frequencies of fear. Talk-show indoctrination; the right way to think. It's not that the world is too fast – it's too... wrong. Media spits out mixed messages, uneasy narrative u-turns, propaganda-as-neural-aggitator, sewing the seeds of confusion. RightSpeak, ReWrite, WrongRead, DoubleTalk, HorrorHorrorHorror. Some of us handle it better than others). At 11 minutes in, a voice croaks a complaint / moan of pain / request for medication. It sounds like Allen Ginsberg with terminal throat cancer, a street-drinker reaching out, reaching upwards from the shadows, hand outstretched, towards you. A cracked-voice plea fallen on deaf ears. Lifts move up and down shafts, infrastructure hums, a woman tells us she “wants it to stop.”
But it never does.