The promise of infinity looms ever-so-slightly over noise and experimental music, and it underlines many an aspiration of utopian becoming, an immersive upward spiral of destruction and creation that would end when ‘true’ history would start. There is, however, a strain more concerned with the present that views such a promise as deceit, for what if what is endless is not imagination but alienation? What if what is at stake is not the freedom to live but the freedom to die? We move mechanically through the ‘stages’ of life under the spell of something, that unseen but very real force that every day drives us to wake, eat, sleep, work, speak… haunted by things, we surmise the horizon and see nothing but the fallacy of the neverending melody in all of its industrially produced glory. “Maybe demonic forces are taking over every second of your waking and sleeping life?” asks the album text, and maybe it is true.
Its theme, the hint of the occult upon the deadened landscapes of the failed promises of the Enlightenment, is very well threaded into the music’s texture, juxtaposing electronics in the style of ambient while negating any possibility of unconscious meandering. Lithuanian Lady Boys give us rhythms that go nowhere, helicopter sounds that cackle around the echoes of fluorescent lights left on for too long, straight-on noise, and synth-like momentary soundscapes, all put together by machines in a magical manner; the disparate becomes unified in a projection of sheer disturbance, the sense of self is lost amongst a myriad microscopic decays perceived as both outer and inner, the point where alienation transforms into possession. The sounds of nature might be the sounds of life, but the sounds of drainpipes at night, the creaking of pots, the distant high-pitched noise of televisions, a car racing by… this anti-nature forms a deviated life, a life that might feel spectral in its artifice, the life many of us are nurtured by and which might increasingly feel less like our own. Whereas ambient lets the listener easily lose him or herself within it, Demonic Possession in Post Industrial Britain feints this appearance by letting the sounds develop over short stretches of time and then shifting, almost unnoticeably, into something else, always more disturbing. The ‘naturality’ with which ambient lets the listener relax is not so much lost as perverted, surreptitiously changed to an attentive reflex in which every step towards self-fulfillment is debased. The terms are inverted, and it is we who are owned and explored by these sounds.
There is also a play on field recordings, as the album pretends to be a document of demonic possessions and even has a bit of text from an “Anonymous correspondent” which says “It started off as a game but before I knew I was dragged into a world of black magic…” The wide manipulative array of sound production intermingles with and becomes the same as the noisy pulse of deteriorating cities, a magical act in which the phrase ‘the future is now’ is one of lament, of loss, a ghostly cry that in a harrowing manner describes the historical detour in which the future as hopeful referent of something greater turned into a repetition of the now, devoid of all sense and direction. It is a future not stolen but infinitely reduced: things speak in our stead, and the noise of the 21st century city is the phantom of all our voices trying to utter utopia into existence, an ideological tip-of-the-tongue memory that instead babbles on about what never was, is, or will be. If a field recording is a process that recalls human action that parts from the world, Demonic Possession goes in reverse by imposing an a priori interpretation of it, one where anyone is easily “dragged into a world of black magic”. It puts authenticity in a tight spot, and in its electronic juxtapositions renders the ‘magic’ audible.
Fans of noise and experimental music will appreciate this album, and while field recording enthusiasts might feel cheated, the ideas driving it, as well as their execution into a set of organized sound, make the whole enterprise quite interesting to explore, whether for its theme or for the sounds themselves. My interpretation might fall on the serious, dystopian side, but there is a big element of fun and play at work as well, from the gaming aspect of an adventure into the occult to the parodic reference to field recordings, so take this review as indicator of the width the album has in terms of possible kinds of listens. This is the kind of artwork that works like treasure troves, in the sense that there will always be something new to come upon, even when you believe you know it well. Hopefully, this first full-length from LLB is but the first of many treasure troves! (David Murrieta)