Skull:Axis – The Transparent Society CD Peripheral Records / Death Continues Records 2013
This relatively obscure new release comes from the creative mind of Jason Bernard – aka Peripheral Records head honcho – who via this album demonstrates he has more than just a label boss’s ear for quality and creative sounds.
From a cursory perusal of the album’s cover the thematic focus of ‘The Transparent Society’ is of central importance to the presented music, being summed up by the quote on the cover: “surveillance induced morality: relics of cultural retardation”. Although not knowing the context of this quote, it could however be easily be interpreted as a scathing comment on the British Government’s well established obsession with attempting to monitor all pubic space through the installation of the ever expanding CCTV networks.
Regarding musical content the eight album tracks present a degree of continuity in sound and approach, meaning the album can be appreciated as a longer singular piece. Whilst there is also an abstract approach to the structure of the tracks the material is in no way improvised as the meticulous approach to the composition can be clearly heard. Accordingly the tone is very much focused on washes of muffled distortion, repetitive radio chatter, mid to higher pitched analog synth layers, clinical transmission pulses, arrhythmic metallic ‘clanks’ and ‘clangs’ and droning factory ambiences. Ultimately ‘The Transparent Society’ is very much rooted in a ‘classic’ German industrial vein but with a definite experimental bent. For a comparison maybe a less refined, abstract and vocal-less version of Anenzephalia would appropriately suit, whilst also highlighting the calibre of the presented material.
The visuals for the release also tie in nicely, where the xeroxed black and white imagery of outdated communications/ surveillance technology evokes a paranoid cold war type visual aesthetic. Given the bleak claustrophobia inherent in the sound these accompanying visuals perfectly tie in with the music and theme. With a ludicrously small pressing of 150 hopefully this album does not go unnoticed for it.