Tuesday, 1 October 2019
Psionic Asylum - Experi[Mental] Area
Album: Experi[Mental] Area
Artist: Psionic Asylum
Label: Distorted Void
Catalogue no: [DV-10]
1. Meditation Cave
2. Gas Chambers
3. Forbidden Research
4. Mind Liberating Machine
5. The Hall
6. Psionic Mantra
Experi[Mental] Area is Psionic Asylum’s fourth album and their second for Russian label Distorted Void, which issued Deathscapes in 2018. Previous albums are Isolation (2015) on CVLTFOREST and Coma on Noctivagant in 2017. Psionic Asylum specialise in creating death ambient/death industrial/horror ambient soundscapes and atmospheres, using a combination of drones and sound effects, and that combination is highly effective in conjuring up images of dank dungeons, hidden places, illicit experiments, and abandoned buildings holding nefarious secrets.
‘Meditation Cave’ begins with a massively oscillating machine rasp, which gradually changes to an equally monolithic drone providing backdrop for the sound of water, as if we’re wading in a sewage tunnel. It smells mouldy and dank in here, a cesspit of decay and rot, a place where no living being would wish to be. Whatever meditation occurs here can only be of the dark and unhealthy kind, perhaps easing contact with entities who are sworn enemies of mankind and who are actively looking for ways to materialise on this plane. Perhaps the metallic screechings and groans heard here are those very entities communicating their dread desires to suggestive recipients. A distant and sustained jet howl, as if heard from a distance, kicks off ‘Gas Chamber’, accompanied by inhalations and exhalations as amplified through a gasmask. Whatever this is, it sounds like a living beast and a poisonous one at that, whose very breath means death and dissolution. It’s suffocating, oppressive, and life-denying.
Then we move on to ‘Forbidden Research’ and the title alone brings up images of mad professors laughing maniacally in stone laboratories secreted in the towers of old castles somewhere in Central Europe. In fact the opening whines remind me of winds whipping around a stone tower, while the machine rhythms and noises hint at unnatural things going on, a place where unsanctioned experimentation and research is being conducted. It is likely that, in such a case, humans are the guinea-pigs: one can never know to what end these experiments are being performed – perhaps there isn’t a goal, just a perverted fetish of bloodletting and cutting open of flesh. ‘Mind Liberating Machine’ doesn’t necessarily mean what it says – the bangs and screams on this speak of something altogether more unholy and abominable, unleashing steel hell on the weak prison of flesh, mutilating and dismembering it, but even after all that the mind is still free and unchanged. The atmosphere here is murky and unpleasant, full of rust and mould, decaying flesh and spilt blood. The liberation spoken of here is only a metaphorical one, a millisecond’s relief from intense pain and rupture before the total dissolution of the consciousness.
‘The Hall’, wherever it may be, whether a physical room or a mental construct, is vast, big enough for sounds both large and small to be amplified immensely, almost filling every inch of the space inside. The place is crumbling, dusty, and falling apart, with debris scattered all over its floor. Creatures scuttle and skitter from pile of fallen plaster to shattered slabs of wall, but whatever inhabits this hall is not for man to see or to witness: beasts and insects that even the most fervid imagination would fail to visualise. They all sound hungry and search endlessly for any morsel of flesh that may come their way. ‘Psionic Mantra’ flies in like a horde of locusts intent on completely stripping everything, before gigantic drum and horn blasts crashes in under a distorted voice intoning something unintelligible. A mantra indeed, emanating from the bowels of the Himalayas, where monks in black perform ceremonies forbidden since before the dawn of man.
There’s not a lot of light to be found on this album, in fact you’d be hard-pressed to find any at all. The atmosphere positively drips with ichor and slime, and unhealthy and despicable ‘things’ lurk in dark corners and in murky subterranean lakes. This is what good death ambient/industrial should do – provoke creeping revulsion, create images of spiritual and human rottenness, strip away the layers of gloss to get to heart of fear and disgust. This has all of that and more, presenting us with minutely observed sketches and diagrams of whatever inhuman actions are going on here, sluiced in gore and blood. This, in other words, is a prime example of the genre, and if you like this kind of thing then this is for you.
Psymon Marshall 2019.