I open an unexpected package and jump out of Mechanized: a dark red cover with skeletal high voltage pylons. Metallic fir trees towering over a dark undergrowth of mechanical skeletons.
The first thought goes to the famous photo of Conrad Schnitzler attached to the Block Box: he with sound equipment under a trellis, within reach of a carcinogenic electromagnetic field. I turn the disk to understand something and read the dedication to … Conrad Schnitzler! My poor neurons have a thrill of energy …
At the first listening, the analogue sound of the cd-r, crackle included in the passages with strong modulation, goes to reactivate a long-buried sensation in memory, that aroused by the books of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.
More than thirty years ago their science fiction sensed and described the next venturing transformation of man and his technological civilization, starting from the hybridization between biology and cybernetics, a logical consequence of the perennial perfection of computers and artificial intelligences. They called it cyber-punk, that vision of the world (increasingly decadent) and of man (more and more man-machine).
Today that literary genre seems to be over, indeed, more dead than the dinosaurs, perhaps a sign that the interconnection between the human and the technological is going well and with it the dissolution of the human being as we knew it.
Mechanized seems to be on the borderline between the human and the over-human, proposing an organic electronics, especially analogical (or digital analog-like) that paradoxically ends up playing very much related to the typical existential restlessness animal-man.
The album is in any case a rare gem: it manages effortlessly to be heard without getting confused in the endless musical production that proliferates incessantly in the network.
The strengths are in the wise use of electronics, in the appreciable sobriety of the short and rare melodic lines, in the continuous recognition on the sound of the pioneers.
In quoting the latter, I refer to the first Clusters and the first Kraftwerk, to the psychotic structures of Schnitzler, without neglecting any echo of the Schulzian Picture Music.
A sort of pastime (?) On the record, passatemi the term, of retrofuturismo, as evidenced by the thriving chirping of analog synths, so dear to the cosmic Schulze as to the experimenter Schnitzler.
Of course, these quotes from the masters should not deceive those who read: we are not listening to one of the one hundred and twenty-eight million nostalgic imitators that the web churns out every day.
On the contrary, the dark tones of Mechanized are the result of an original and accurate search on the sound, and this sound rises gloomy and nervous on decaying civilization.
As we said, Mechanized describes a post-natural and post-human world, an infected silicon biology that incorporates and assimilates the metal, the electric, the mechanic.
Every track on the album is effective and essential, starting from the torrential Energy Flow, arriving at the highly hypnotic, excellent Old Power Station Disused (that of the power plants in disarmament is a particularly evocative image, and is central, as elsewhere the author explains, in the genesis of the whole album).
Although sometimes some sweetest episodes peep out, like the elegant, dreamy melody of Mademoiselle Electricité, and here and there, there are no signs of an intelligent irony (Small Remnant of Electricity), a mercurial light spreads across the work. It opens disquieting visions on astounded desolate landscapes.
Mechanized inaugurates a trilogy of experimental works, which at this point promises to be a work to listen very carefully: we are waiting, under the pylons of power plants abandoned to their fate.