There is a Violence in the Void

Endemic & Constant Violence (LF RECORDS LF 083) is what dsic perceived to be the state of the modern world in 2022, and come to think of it the majority of his computer-noise pieces have come to similar conclusions, mostly quite pessimistic, about the human race and our chances for survival. He underscores the point this time by including images of military power on the front cover, including one soldier rendered anonymous and threatening in silhouette. The sound this time appears to have been derived, Heaven alone knows how, from manipulations of news recordings from the mass media – at least, that’s how I interpret his terse, cryptic utterance “interviewer/interviewee context” on the website blurb. Dsic grows ever more close-lipped about what he’s trying to do and how he’s doing it, a strategy which I can only applaud, as he draws his blinds and shrouds his devices under a heavy veil. The music on this 3-incher is febrile, disconnected, and even somewhat dispirited, passing on a cold sense of futility and despair. There’s a constant white noise burst a bit like radio static, concealing the speech elements under three feet of aural snow and ice. If there is a dialogue underpinning all these distorted, hissing, mean-spirited gasps, then it’s been completely stripped of meaning, and shows us that dsic pretty much holds zero hope for the prospect of genuine communication between human beings. When voice fragments do surface, they are garbled into something absurd and horrifying, a parody of dialogue that undermines everything we hold dear.

Dsic continues these pessimistic themes on Chasm (LF082), a full-length item where each track is a different name for one of these openings in the earth, be they natural or man-made – ‘Sinkhole’, ‘Gorge’, ‘Pit’, ‘Abyss’ – all known voids are included in the catalogue, with the possible exception of a shaft dug for a grave. The mood I’m in today, I’d welcome a hole I can crawl into and die, and just hide away from the whole human race. Sadly, the music of dsic offers no such comfort or respite to the listener, and his own text indicates that he sees this entire work as a protracted scream or shriek issued from his own terrified mouth, or else the very mouth of the world itself as it screams in protest. “The mouth opens up the whole world is enfolded and split and from the mouth the scream and the terror and the whole language is enfolded,” to quote from his own incoherent spiel. Like the above, this release is made through abuse of the computer, along with “systems” – possibly dsic’s name for the programs or apps which he hacks to generate such grotesque audio horrors – and effects. This CDR happens to be more full-bodied than the anaemic ghastliness of Endemic & Constant Violence above, and there are many moments when he showcases his talent for creating strong patterns, textures, and bold effects from his completely non-human and abstracted tones. Each track is thus packed with surprises and shocking twists, taking us to strange and alien places against our will (perhaps with iron shackles involved at some point). However, lately I’m not feeling the same rage as we used to get from this most incensed of electronic protest musicians, and instead we get the feeling that he’s more resigned to the dismal doom which awaits us all.

I’ve no idea who Alter Ego may be, although we enjoyed his Warm Biology and Cold Biology items for this label some years ago. His …Is Silicon Sands (LF081) cassette might be attempting to continue the fiction that he’s moonlighting as a marine biologist, now turning his scientific attentions to the geological formations to be seen on the beach, except that silicon or silica is mostly used in an industrial context. This cassette tape extends for some 80 minutes, telling and retelling its single harrowing tale – “Awoke alone the body with no mind, stumbled and fell into the endless water”, a depressing scenario which apparently takes place on a deserted beach. It’s tempting to think this mystery creator is dsic (Greg Godwin) under another guise, but unlike the master’s music we find Alter Ego doesn’t have quite the same sense of frenetic energy or desperate urgency. In fact, the music is almost leisurely in the way it explores, states and restates its themes, subjecting them to transformations in a deliberate and methodical way.

We were also sent a copy of Alter Ego’s very first item from 2016, simply called Alter Ego (LF 053). It comes with cover artwork that looks like screens from an ancient 1980s computer game, where the player must click on buttons to make decisions when faced with imaginary scenarios, thus proceeding to the next level. But in Alter Ego’s world, the scenarios are either quite troubling and paranoid (a party where you have nothing in common with anyone else) or even life-threatening (referring to a kind of viral infection that saps your brain power and your ability to socialise). Nine tracks of dispirited and dismal electronic goop underscore the misery of these two unwelcome situations, and effectively convey the sense that the protagonist is powerless, paralysed into inaction. Mostly quite subdued noise in comparison to the usual standards of this label, but there’s much to enjoy in its sinister, lurking corners of ill-lit mystery.

All the above from 23rd June 2022.

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