Cassette HMS027

September 2015

This latest cassette/download release from the always provocative Helen Scarsdale Agency engages on multiple levels, though a brief history lesson is necessary for one to gain a better appreciation of Radioson's eponymous release. The story originates in the aftermath of World War II in the experimental research conducted in the Soviet empire, in this case specifically the R&D development facility for Soviet tools of psychic warfare known cryptically as Special Department No. 8. One line of study undertaken by the group centered on the potential for thought transference to happen via radio waves, an idea proposed by Bernard Kajinsky under the general concept of "biological radio communication”; pushed to an experimental extreme, this notion of "radio sleep” (radioson in Russian) could produce a debilitating state of radio-generated "zombification.”

The testing, which occurred at a site outside Novosibirsk, involved 145 soldiers who after being subjected to the "radio sleep” device, fell into a deep sleep, and upon awakening were observed for close to a year. The project might have become little more than an historical research-related footnote had the test subjects not started dying off, one after the other, leading to a military inquiry and the discovery that the project had been undertaken by the KGB without the participation of the Ministry of Defense and the awareness of the state's highest military executives. This, along with the tragic deaths of the participants, resulted in the eventual suppression of information about the project and ostracism of anyone who so much as acknowledged it publicly. One subject who somehow survived the ordeal attempted to publish information about the research but found himself summarily silenced and banished to a psychiatric institution.

As enigmatic as the release itself are the details surrounding the recording's creator, the Russian producer Sergey, better known as [S] who's issued material under the Five Elements Music moniker and as one-half of Exit in Grey. Operating under the name Radioson and using old synthesizers, tape machines, and radios as sound-generators, [S] generates a blurry, ultra-dense forcefield of noise and static through which sweetly cloying synthesizer melodies occasionally penetrate. The four untitled tracks unspool like brain scans transcribed into aural form, resulting in an hour-long convulsion of synapse firings, garbled thought fragments, and electrical currents all jumbled together and littered with kosmische dust. A constant struggle is enacted between the musical and textural elements, with each side gaining the upper hand at different stages. After the opening track establishes the project's ambient-experimental blend, the second piece lurches and grinds like some machine-like behemoth until the synth elements arrive to imbue the material with unexpected melancholy, the third whips up an industrial storm that's so thick it verges on impenetrable, and the fourth plunges even more deeply into a turbulent zone of speaking voices and sci-fi transmissions. As smothered in physical decay as the material is, Radioson is a far from unpleasant listen, and though it includes a generous amount of disruptive noise, it's neither abrasive nor unmusical.