Review: Prolonged Version – All Watched Over by Machines with Neurotic Disorders

Prolonged Version - All Watched Over by Machines with Neurotic DisordersThe motion feels circular, perpetual: the whirr and recurrent crackles of rotary turbines, ungainly motors rattling within loose steel casing, hydraulic pumps gliding back and forth in rusty, frictional jerks. Somehow I feel intrusive – like I’ve snuck into the engine room in spite of the “WARNING” signs on the door – into a space in which all the gross, unsettling sounds of mechanised labour are stowed away from the machine’s spotless external façade; cramped and almost jostling for room, trading stale air and murmuring over eachother. For the most part it’s the dull sonic constant of “business as usual”, and over the course of the extended track durations, even the most horrible spurts of diesel engine start to feel comforting in their constancy. All of the operation lights are flashing their usual pulse, and everything is okay.

In a space defined by achromatic colour, my spectrum of beauty shifts. The feedback on “A Calm Immortal Frieze…” becomes a playful flute serenade, while the seemingly vacant pulsation at the centre starts to feel like a radiant major chord hitting over and over again, almost chorally beautiful. Similarly, slight adjustments in tempo or aggression become pregnant with serious threat; equilibrium starts to rip gradually, like a tear teased into a piece of fabric, as the chain of cyclical machines acceleration toward malfunction – the factory is tearing itself apart, as organs start to buzz like objects caught in the mechanism, and voices yelp emergency procedures over a broken tannoy. The climactic meltdown never comes, and the unease hangs like a sickness until the very end.