Regosphere – Like Surgical Steel C30 (Husk Records)
This recording is from 2010, also. I had it on repeat for a month or so just after I got it, because I was impressed with the skill and care put into composing the captivating atmosphere of the mix. Andrew Quitter has been recording for more than 14 years, and it shows. He runs a label called Dumpsterscore, which has put out a lot of dark industrial electronics and noise recordings since its inception in 2003. From the limited amount of recordings I’ve heard of his Regosphere project and what he has posted on Bandcamp under his own name I can see that he has a great intuition about putting sounds together thoughtfully to evoke what he intends to evoke. The atmosphere of this tape is akin to some recordings I have from an artist by the name of Minoy, who was prolific in the 80’s cassette scene. Fantastic stuff. On this tape there is an abundance of wobbling white noise, field recordings of metals, what sounds like flanger feedback (but could also be synthesizer), and in the notes vocals are mentioned but I never could distinguish any voice out of the din. Andrew likes pedals. Sometimes a voice heavily effected with pedals can produce odd sounds that by other means would not happen. The clanking metals with a natural reverb from the site where the field recordings were taken work well, adding to the mood rather than sounding superfluous. On a couple of these pieces there are unnerving low or high end alarm-like synthesizer sounds, which work alternately to add detail to the 3-dimensional vibrations of The Fear, or paranoia, or The Grim Absence of Hope. The sounds are varied and the mix is always changing, which makes this recording expressive and interesting to listen to.
The darkness and texture of ‘industrial electronics’ on this tape articulate for me the bitterness incurred by being subject to the many symptoms of the crumbling societies of this Earth. This kind of feeling is what catapulted me head first into a much deeper appreciation of industrial music at first listen to Throbbing Gristle’s live performance at Veteran’s Auditorium, Los Angeles, May 22nd 1981. About 7 minutes into the set, with a rhythm and a bed of noises, Genesis begins a repeating vocal line that sounds like “wuh-buh-buh-buh”. The distortion of the vocals is brain bending. The inanity is horrifying and revelatory. It said to me, “Yes, this world is in fact as screwed up as you’ve thought, and way more…” – but somehow it was sort of beautiful. It made me see more details, feel more depth, show me totally new angles, which from an early age was what I thought the word ‘psychedelic’ was supposed to mean. I find a fair portion of industrial music to be more psychedelic than a lot of music popularly regarded as psychedelic. Maybe this perspective is largely product of growing up in the time that I grew up.
There’s a movie that came out a few years ago, called “Sunshine”, which at its ending depicts a character in a giant chamber which is covered on all surfaces with atomic bombs. The bombs go off as the ship containing the chamber is crashing into the sun. The character watches in awe as the flames and explosions happen all around him. With the music of this scene (too sweet…too sentimental…) removed I would make a bit of a comparison of the feelings evoked by these images to the feelings Throbbing Gristle evoked in me. It’s horrible chaos, but it’s unthinkably just-as-it-must-be.
Industrial culture has a lot of touchpoints, and I believe that a lot of them, especially in the more sample-laden music, are like disco mirror balls that reflect many other touchpoints. Of course what I’ve taken from ‘Like Surgical Steel’ is not certain to be what Andrew intended or what anybody else got from it. Having experienced a lot of the dark feelings typified by industrial music myself, I identify with this music at times perhaps more strongly than I would like to. I have more of an idealistic nature and often wish for things to be much more hopeful than they actually are. Often, though, I find a comfort in identifying with bleaker aesthetics such as this tape to vindicate anger. Other times I just like the sounds and textures. Regosphere is aptly skilled to satisfy both of these needs.