Monday, January 12, 2015

MK9 - Anhedonic Ideations / Death Squad - Out Patients

MK9 - Anhedonic Ideations
Neural Operations 2014 NO 12. 2 x 3” CDR, 1 x business card CDR, 1 X button badge that reads ‘ERROR’ and booklet. 125 copies.

Death Squad - Out-Patient
Neural Operations 2011. CDR 100 copies.

I have a great deal of respect for Michael Nine. In the sometimes murky world of Power Electronics his live shows are never anything less than gripping and what I’ve heard of his recorded work either under his own name or that of his previous outfit Death Squad has always led me to believe that we're dealing with a serious player here. With Death Squad I once saw him play a Termite gig where blood was let as scenes of mass rioting were projected on to a whitewashed wall. Of the several solo gigs I’ve seen under his MK9 guise every single one has left me feeling inadequate, baffled, angry and ashamed. Nine’s ability to make us face up to the inanities of this world; the pointless wars, the wasted lives, the lying governments, the senseless hatred is both humbling and profound. And then here, his own self doubt. A bout of Anhedonia, this being the term used to describe ‘a state of mind where one no longer enjoys the things that used to be enjoyable’.

In Anhedonic Ideations Nine examines a bout of self doubt brought on by a year long struggle with something a bit more complicated than a creative block. During this period Nine kept a diary in which he recorded his thoughts and observations. Some are mundane, some are acutely personal whilst others dig deep into his psyche asking himself questions he can’t answer playing both psychiatrist and patient. Cuttings of this diary, along with black and white images of urban spaces and his own contorted face make up the considerably dense booklet. 

Of the two three inch discs the silver one contains a series of audio recordings that Nine made daily over a six month period, each track representing one week. Here we have short blasts of white noise, shortwave interference, static and amp hum. The five tracks on the black disc are Power Electronics in its purer sense with Nine’s slowed vocals going through the distortion machine to a background of electronic disturbance. Here we find more recognisable PE tropes but its Nine’s delivery and his slowly measured American accent that [even through the static] lifts this from the ordinary. On track three his voice comes at you through a distant howling wind. On track four that distant wind is joined by a crackling frequency distortion that goes deep into the depths of the ear canal. On the last track he recites from what I presume is an Afghani schoolteachers account of the effects of US drone strikes, all this to the sound of heavy rainfall and an oscillating low hertz drone. The effect is both haunting and deeply affecting.

The square disc [as its described on the insert] finds Nine reading a paragraph of his diary entry with each disc being unique.

The amount of work that's gone in to this release is staggering, there’s even a typed two inch square piece of paper folded into the side of the square CD that probably came from Nine’s own diary. As a way of working yourself out of a creative cul-de-sac its quite something, as an insight into the mind of an artist working within the Power Electronics genre its probably unique. Either way its an outstanding release.

Out-Patient finds Nine in is his now defunct Death Squad guise. Here we have inmates of psychiatric institutions being interviewed by their doctors, admissions from desperate drug addicts, straight lifts on the benefits of ECT as extolled by the medical profession and cop abuse all daubed with ominous, gestating electronics. There’s also a live track as recorded in Denver in which Nine’s shows his ability to hold down a sustained rant. Impressive stuff.

Nine’s work is disturbing, gripping, personal and the product of a mind that never stops questioning the often seemingly obvious observation that all of humanity is off to hell in a squeaky wheeled Wal-Mart trolley.  

Power Electronics has its detractors but they’re usually of the kind that hasn’t listened to any in over twenty years. A dousing of Michale Nine goes a long way towards re-balancing that misconception.

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