Cassette HMS027

Heathen Harvest
May 2016

The concept behind Радиосон—the debut from Russian sound artist Sergey Suhovik, laconically calling himself [s]—probably could have made it to an X-Files episode. What matters more to me, however, is the sonic result inspired by Soviet Russia’s parapsychological experiments on human subjects as they observed the effects of radio waves on the human brain. All of the gear involved in the creation of this album is neatly listed on the j-card. Apart from the Korg ESX and Aiwa 999, you’ll find even more ancient stuff like the cult Soviet synth Поливокс, reel-to-reel tape recorders, and more.

Радиосон, which is unfortunately already sold out from the Helen Scarsdale Agency in its physical form but still available digitally from iTunes, Boomkat, and elsewhere, is a noisy, textural, and—honestly—very exhausting, demanding album. Its soundscapes are built from all sorts of sonic bits, including speech samples, monophonic melodies, fragmentary mechanical pulsations, and raw bass rumble. These elements take turns overlapping and melding together to form a very busy and hostile sonic environment. The obligatory, cliché references to a beehive are imminent, but imagine that sound amplified (and multiplied) infinitely. Радиосон rarely stays quiet or in the same place. Yes, the ever-shifting noises may seem like simple static, but they truly never are. It’s exactly this over-saturation of noise and details that makes the album so challenging. It sounds as if every tiny bit of sound is important.

Радиосон is an exact, perfectly developed sonic mirror of the aggressive experiments that fuel its movements, and the album does seem to have effect on your body. When I said it was exhausting, I really meant it, but it also stimulates your brain in its own twisted way. Just like with anything else that the Helen Scarsdale Agency has released, the process of sonic exploration here is brought to its extremes. I’m not only speaking of creative approach either, but as a final outcome. I’ve played this record more than a few times over while attempting to take notes or while attempting to somehow multitask, but it just didn’t work. Радиосон gives your brain no chance to operate and perform any other activity. Instead, the noise stasis accepts only your paralysis as a suitable behavior, and you’ll only find yourself fully immersed in all of the audio transformations that this album has to offer. It’s impressive how much tension that a cassette tape can fit; it’s totally worth the headache. -- Angel S.