SUPERTOYS LAST ALL SUMMER LONG


Zwishchenwelt: Paranormal Activitat
May 8, 2011, 12:11 am
Filed under: Album Reviews, Recommended Albums, The Quietus

Released on Richard D James’s Rephlex imprint, Zwishchenwelt (German for ‘the inbetween world’) is an international project helmed by surviving member of the legendary Drexcyia, Gerald Donald. As an undying exponent of 1st-wave Detroit techno, typically of Donald Paranormale Aktivitat is deserted, coldly mechanical and devolved sounding. He fills gaseous environs with the sound of contracting metal and retro Roland effects that spit battering acid and blue sparks onto the tense, prowling beats. It gives the impression of a hissing, grinding machine, moving scorpion-like through the snowy forests of his now native Germany. If not for the Siren-esque vocals preserving a very frail sense of the human, its sparse ambient workings would stall in the freeze, suffocating the fascinating sci-fi story at its core: a future-occult mystery where every night a blood red sun sets on the ghosts of Russian sailors, and the glare burns cataract-riddled eyes through the interstices of venetian blinds.

Based around an extremely sinister field of pseudo-scientific research known as parapsychology, the “frontier science of the mind” according to the bods, Paranormale Activitat presents a series of cinematic moodscapes channelling ideas of precognition, thought transference, mind-to-mind interrogation and various other face-whitening practices which alas are the stuff of complete fiction. Like much of Donald’s music it’s shot through with the corroded, rusting esthesis of peak-era Detroit c. 1985, which as a truly gifted audile he conjures with almost claustrophobic verisimilitude, evoking that certain ‘something in the water’ that pervaded the year. With Reagan’s all-conquering reinstatement and the “Star Wars” initiative threatening to destabilize the MAD treaty, that certain something could be summarized as fear – measuring way off the Geiger scale in the year Alan Moore began work on Watchmen. In 1981 USA defence spending was at 178 billion dollars. By 1986, it was 367 billion

By combining the two elements within such futuristic currents, the powerfully transportive Paranormale Aktivitat works like some type of alternative history of cold war espionage; a ‘second reality’ (track 11) where militarized psychokinesis is real and the almighty minds of nuero-gods clash along the Iron Curtain, their retaliations echoing back and forth like tracer fire in the lonely night air above alien Russian architecture. Methodically and meditatively elicited by a patient producer in Donald, it’s a world you could get lost in, where psychic spies hunt KGB agents for state secrets, eliminating moustached spooks through flaking plasterboard with vein-bursting, orgasmic focus. As the album continues, all kinds of shadowy figures and dangerous scenarios come to the fore amidst the throbbing, sulphuric conditions. On ‘Materialization’, in the grips of Capgras psychosis British double-agents chase mirrors and slamming doors in the deserted corridors of labyrinthine Moscowian hotels. On ‘Enigmata’ unremarkable-seeming moles relieve dim-witted sentries of their door keys, and on ‘Remote Viewer’ we watch behind a two-way mirror as bureaucratic overlords fall at the mercy of red-lipped femme fatales, who move like cigarette smoke around your body before escaping through the bowels of crumbling European cities on ‘Telemetric’. It’s a suspenseful, hypnotic invocation of your footsteps-in-the-alleyway and bugged light-fixings stuff, radiating intrigue and smoking gun dread. If you turn the lights out you can almost feel a pistol in your hand, and a silencer in the other.

“Vina” is one such super-powerful enchantress appearing on ‘Telekenisis’, whose “pleasure is high / [and] her focus key”. “She can brand you with her iron mind” Beta Evers intones, in an icy germanic accent “Good luck Vina / She makes hearts stop beating”. In sharp relief with the metallic backdrop, Ever’s luring, breathy dispassion creates a clever juxtaposition, forging a connection between the fear of Red indoctrination – symbolically a penetration of the mind – and penetration of the sexual kind.; a reoccurring motif in the tradition of late-Cold War horror.

It seems fitting that Paranormale Aktivitat was build from invisible lines of code, transmitting virtually around cosmopolitan Europe. Constructing Paranormale in increments, New York DJ/producer Susana Correia, Spanish producer Penelope Martin and vocalist Evers emailed parts to and fro with Donald until everything tessellated. They’ve composed a sleekly finessed album in physical isolation from one another, tangibly heightening the atmosphere of disassociation and paranoid silences.

Thematically, the obvious reference point is Scanners, buts it’s the sights and sounds of Ken Russell sci-fi horror Altered States most keenly felt on Paranormale Aktivitat, especially at its most cosmic on ‘Cryptic Dimension’ and ‘Apparition’. Referenced by a host of industrial and grindcore bands including Godflesh, Ministry and Agrophobic Nosebleed, the film is based on John C. Lilly’s sensory deprivation research conducted in isolation tanks under the influence of psychoactive drugs like Ketamine and LSD. Like Russell’s cult classic, Paranormal Aktivitat is hyper-vivid but flooded with the nagging suggestion that the dream, whether you like it or not, is real. Scanner’s tagline read: “Welcome To The Outer Reaches of Future Shock”, which for Gerald Donald is merely a good place to start. John Calvert

Advertisements

Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s