REVIEW: V/A – “Describing Paranoia”

By Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Chain Border

As if one artist isn't enough, you get four on this disturbed and sinister ode to instability, Describing Paranoia. As if Mike Patton's Fantomas isn't doing enough to keep this crazed underground movement alive and, er, healthy, out come their inevitable twisted contemporaries to clout listeners upside the head with seventy-one minutes of agitated cold (and I mean cold) wave. Describing Paranoia doesn't pussyfoot around; let the book indeed be judged by the cover in this case and the dramatic, near-cannibalistic sensation left after listening to this psychosomatic dirge is undeniable.

Four artists with three tracks a piece, yet little to any deviation between them. A true collaboration, if you will, the tracks seamlessly create a distraught and forlorn bucket of audio grue, an outright concept album dedicated to plucking the nerves of the daring listener. Anaphylaxis begins with a shrieking car peeling noise on Restless Dreams, which immediately delineates into a static-filled phone conversation which cover the soft synth tones. These tones are further plundered by various clutter and clatter and even worse, baby screeches and an adult female weeping. To say that Llorando might be Dead Can Dance crammed with Apollon might be giving it too much credit, yet that is the peculiar feeling one might get with the looming fog that coats the hollow cantata chant on this track. By this time, if the listener has made it to Tomorrow's Heroine, one could possibly daydream, as this reviewer did, about it feeling all snug and cozy as background score to the original Dawn of the Dead. Not that The Goblins superfreaky and chilling score isn't potent enough, the shrill monotones of Tomorrow's Heroine are haunting and cryptic in their own right, and, scary to say, oddly soothing; in increments anyway.

Hollydrift takes over with Night Over Land, which befits the vacuum-like siphoning the unnerving synths resonate. They scrape and decelerate, indicating a loss of sanity. The question is, whose sanity is at stake…the artist or the listener? Question answered on Normacola, which jumps in the ear with satanic garble executed by someone with an obvious affinity for spinning old death metal albums backwards. The track is irritating, schizophrenic and becomes crueler with each disastrous minute. Then again, consider the title of the project: Describing Paranoia. Noise or genius? You decide. As soon as one's neurons have settled down, Hollydrift introduces an aquatic, serene track, Out Among the Night. The track is old-school industrial with the traditional voiceover samples.

Kaya Project attempts a meditative prayer motif on Wars Amoung Saints, or if you want to consider the title, it could be described more as a battle of ideology as the coldwave grows more intense with each overlong second the track is allowed to continue. And There Lay the Pendulum is even longer at 9:37, ridiculous for a composition that produces a genuine floating sensation that is given the interesting tweak of eventual percussion and something that sounds like a pulsing ultrasound. Trimmed by five minutes, And There Lay the Pendulum would be a more effective production. Velvet Albatross is not much different from its predecessors; it is empty, hollow and tries to take upon itself a classical fugue essence with a postmodern edge. It works and it doesn't. What it does, however, is provide an appropriate clammy lead-in to the final stanza.

The Devouring Element finishes this moonstruck fellowship off with Revisionist History. As this entire concept album is revisionism of a sort, the loud and direct chopper-like samples that lead to inconclusive explosions produces a lingering, teasing sensation; as if the mind comes close to imploding, but must be exposed to more unhinged psychopathy first. The digital cymbal crashes try to lend an epic quality to the sampled voiceovers, but really keep in line with the brainsick dementia Describing Paranoia unravels as a whole. Shattered Like Mirrors is possibly the most realized and affecting track, as it takes a Skinny Puppy industrial nod with gothic church bells and vampish electronic warp beats. The lumbering deathscape of Shattered Like Mirrors leads into the finale of the hopelessly titled Paranoid Mind, Part 1. The sonic flushes and looped voiceovers of Paranoid Mind, Part 1 gives the impression that this disc may be over, but the subject matter forever remains. There is no cure, the sickness lingers until death, that death for the listener being the final second of this disc, at least. Is there a Paranoid Mind, Part 2? Let's hope not, like we hope there's never a Waterworld 2.

Whatever these four artists were attempting to accomplish with Describing Paranoia, their mission is more than complete. Seventy-one minutes of organic mania is far too cumbersome for mainstream tastes. Executed to the best of their unbalanced abilities, this disc should nevertheless come with a warning label: prepare for lobotomy immediately after use.

Contact Information:
Panasomnic Records
Post: 10002 Aurora Ave N Ste 36, Seattle, WA 98133-9348, USA

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