Anenzephalia – Programmatika MC Hospital Productions 2017
For whatever reason I did not order this tape immediately upon release, where the limited 200 copies then completely sold out in a matter of days. Given that Anenzephalia are an artist who could easily sell 500+ copies, I then consoled myself with an vague assumption that its limitation implied this collection of outtakes and unreleased material might have not been up to the same standard as other main releases. But in proving that assumption completely wrong it did not take long for word to filter out regarding how great the tape was, and after a bit of searching I managed to obtain the tape at a fair price. In now having had a chance to listen to the tape myself, in my estimation Programmatika features some of the strongest material from the project in years.
Thematically Programmatika uses artwork and samples to cleverly comment on social engineering which seeks an idealistic Utopian future, but juxtaposes this against the creation of a soulless Dystopian nightmare. The tape features 18 listed tracks, which in reality each bleeds into a larger continuous composition. Sonically this perhaps sits towards the slightly more subdued sounds from the project post the year 2000, yet equally there is lots of sonic variety and detailing to maintain attention. According to the liner notes, all sounds were created 1989-2006 and further remastered 2016, however it seems that there are a variety of sonic elements which have been used in different formations on other releases. One of the most obvious of these is the clearly recognizable sample from A Tribute, featured on 1998’s mini LP New World Disorder. During a few select moments Programmatika features heavier industrialized textures, including atonal metallic clanging, swarming analogue distortion and queasy disorientating rhythms, but in the most part the mood is subdued and controlled. Likewise radio chatter and what sounds like German political speech samples occasionally bleed into the mix. Also of particular note, the end of Side B mirrors the first moments of the tape on Side A, while the end of Side A replicates the start of Side B. This functions to effectively create a conceptual ‘infinity loop’ of unchanging stasis, which would seem to represent the perpetual unchanging present without the possibility of a past or a future. To further frame the conceptual commentary, Programmatika is concludes with a deadpan voice repeatedly instructing the listener to “be happy”.
Without doubt I have been extremely surprised by how strong Programmatika is as a complete and focused release, and in no way feels to have been cobbled together from outtakes or throwaway material. As such Programmatika deserves to be heard by more that the few hundred that a 200 copy edition without a digital version allows, so here is hoping that a repress will be issued at some point. Vinyl perhaps?