PUBLIC IMAGE Careering @ OLD GREY WHISTLE TEST 1980
Prolonged Version: “All Watched Over by Machines With Neurotic Disorders”
A nifty download album of abstract sound-art, experimental music, noise, whatever terminology you like. Prolonged Version (James Shearman and Charlie Wheatley) have an intriguing concept about the modern industrial world and its machinery, as evidenced by its Richard Brautigan-referencing album title, the track titles, the listed use of DC motors as an instrument, and the use of steady mechanical rhythms and loops cross-fading in and out of each other as the primary materials.
The only bit of conventional melody appears early in the second track “Friction as a Social Process” in the form of a primitive figure of four long tones from what would seem to be some sort of synthesizer, sounding like it could have been sampled from Earth’s Magnetic Field, playing over whirring motors. These give way to a factory-soundscape of muffled heavy-equipment groans, a machine that almost sounds as if it could be repeating the word “Gloria”, and at regular intervals, something like a ship horn. While this track is my personal favorite of the four, the collage approach applied to rhythmic scraping, sputtering irregular static, and feedback (even imitating rusty hinges and a trance-inducing steam whistle on “A Calm Immortal Frieze on the Mausoleum of my Incestuous and Self-fructifying Death”) evoking a feeling of traveling through vast complexes of autonomous machinery with scarcely a living thing in sight, is employed consistently throughout to great effect. A sound work that takes industrial monotony as its concept, All Watched Over by Machines With Neurotic Disorders gets it point across while its shifting scenes keep it an engaging listen.