Two tracks by COLT (‘Magick: Systems of Madness’ and ‘Beyond Breconex’) and an excerpt from a recording by Pete Free and the SPG feature on RT#4. COLT tracks also appear on each of the earlier releases in the series.
RADIO TEST #4
I was fashioned in times long past,
At the beginning, long before earth itself…
M.R. of O.I, underground polymath, rarely photographed man of mystery, supporter of lost causes, embodiment of gold from lead, has gifted the world a final collection of eccentric soundscapes, metaphysical investigations, toe tapping tunes and post-surrealist mind fucks, birthed in Holloway Road and the suburbs of Tamworth, a Sheffield that never existed, and places that cannot be located on maps but converge on the parts of north Wales that are not frequented by tourists, in a time warp embracing the early 1960s, mid-1980s and that segment of the early 21st century that will colonise the furthest reaches of time, by the generous impulse to offer an invitation to people who would otherwise remain unknown to each other, and deploying advanced curatorial skills that he might not be aware of, for obscure reasons that relate to the enlightenment of the world and the ages that the sounds pass through, in the spirit of conceive, continue and complete, and for the profitable readjustment of the listening ear; he presents clear black text on a plain white ground, simple and direct: project name, brief mission statement; artist name in bold, track title in normal text. The word takes precedence. The image is absent. And yet the code embedded in the credits serves to prompt a series of lively visions in the all receiving mind.
Before we hear a sound, we can speculate on the location of the white city, conceive of human demons relaxing in rain and thunder, adopt youth shapes to go beyond Breconex, recall the vegetable action of the world circle jerk in the night of the vampire, inhabit the spirit of fuck the dirge, escape, and TV buzz. The disguised Minotaur and the beard of religion, the cubed nightmare of the medieval Satanisms, the raised ink of rural sex magick, systems of madness…It’s the call sign and outro that keep us grounded and unforced. It’s what passes between beginning and end that holds our attention.
The electronic needle lands on the invisible groove. We emerge 77 minutes and 58 seconds later, having travelled from one uncertain world through several others. It is hard to convey the meaning of many of the tracks on this collection with any degree of certainty, or to accurately describe the methods by which the messages are relayed. It often seems like we are dealing with transmissions from alien intelligences, which defy mundane categorisation. Our uncertainty is the result of tactics deliberately employed by the producer of the collection, who wants us to question the apparent reality of what is habitually assumed to be the here and now.
As on the three previous releases in the series, the introductory call sign consists of male and female voices repeatedly intoning ‘radio test’ over a shifting sine wave. They are letting us know where we are and providing a strong indication of what we are in for…
As it is… an electronically treated voice relates a series of numbers, which constitute a code that unlocks the subliminal substratum of a BBC radio broadcast and reveals the trance inducing harmonies that underlie what the unsuspecting listener hears as he tunes into his favourite programme… the sensation of dislocated being that accompanies the psychedelic experience, whereby time speeds up and slows down, is transcended or rendered inconsequential, leaving gaps in the time track and holes in consciousness, and where attention switches from internal experience to external stimuli, so that it becomes a struggle to locate yourself in space as well as time… a description of the core elements of the metaphysical system invented by “Crowley the cock nut, bourgeois reactionary / and gibberish spouting scag loving baldie” and promulgated by its founder and his slaves in the second decade of the 20th century… Blue Prince receives a message from his humanoid answering machine, informing him that there will be “…medieval vegetable action this Friday”… a sample from ‘The Girl with the Prefabricated Heart’, the most accomplished section of the film ‘Dreams that Money can Buy’, directed by Hans Richter… word play employed as a method of revealing hidden meanings that lie beneath the commonly accepted rules of grammar and constraints of language… it is strongly suggested that demons are humans who re-enter the world they have departed following their deaths… an apparently jolly combination of jangling acoustic guitar, bells and pseudo-angelic choir is subverted by an introduction and coda that suggest the song might have emerged from the mind of a psychotic fantasist… a whispered description of the sights, sounds, smells and feelings enjoyed by a film maker during a summer storm. We hear rain and birdsong, distant thunder and muffled traffic noise, and we’re transported to an unpretentious, everyday paradise simply by letting it in… an experiment involving a recorder placed in close proximity to a TV set to create an open channel for alien contacts to transmit messages that cause the receiver to remember dreams of profoundly significant radio sets on display in a fairground cum disco, which provides living quarters and office space, some of which is inhabited by the dream narrator, whose subconscious mind creates other similarly powerful if insubstantial environments… an excerpt from an interview with an audience member at an American talent show who is on the verge of revealing her favourite contestant when she is supplanted by sonic blast, which gives way to a whispered and cut up female voice intoning an arbitrary and meaningless list… subdued metallic grind supplanted by echoing drones, ending with a proclamation that the ultimate spectacle lies beyond second rate archetypes and state approved religion… a manifesto promoting the pre-eminence of the immediate experience of now, asserting the unreliability of external authority and condemning arbitrary systems, which can be countered by the refusal to accept their premises… a recording of a steam train with the microphone placed near the furnace and a storm in the background… an encounter with a sinister stranger who mumbles to himself and makes outlandish hand signals in a book shop… a fabulous Joe Meek production from 1961, which sounds like Sun Ra has been commissioned to deliver a guitar twanging instrumental showing The Shadows how it should be done. You can imagine this tune introducing a performance by The Fall if Mark E. Smith had a more pronounced sense of humour… a short documentary illustrating a radio phenomenon of unknown provenance followed by an examination of extraterrestrial Electronic Voice Phenomena… a teenage nihilist who urges us not only to fuck the dirge but also to fuck everything else that occurs to her deeply disappointed, hostile and snottily confrontational mind… a constrained melange of sub-bass, concrete mixer mid-ground and sharp high tones ending with a scream… a description of an emergency alert transmitted by the CIA following an alien invasion of the skies above rural America… tolling bells with a slowed down reiteration of the code voiced earlier in the broadcast, as cars speed down the wet road that runs through an abandoned town in a larger evacuation area, which is eventually occupied by chthonic forces… a superficially relaxed and pleasant idyll with an unsettling subtext, somewhat reminiscent of Psychic TV’s ‘Dreams Less Sweet’… a recording of a space ritual conducted on the edge of audibility, rendering the bass notes as an almost palpable heavy force and throwing everything else into obscurity; the participants become aware of the threat of unwanted intrusion and send out a protective audio field consisting of messages about death and Oscar Peterson… Flowers of Evil contribute a song from their self-titled 1988 debut audio-cassette, which takes the form of a curse against their enemies, who will be judged and found wanting, whose days will be few and whose children will be orphans, wandering in desolation… So be it.
The end is in the beginning
and the beginning is in the end
and yet the beginning and the end differ
by virtue of that which has passed between them.
The outro features a brief snippet of Joe Meek talking about his earliest recording experiments, followed by something which could be a short work created using the method he outlines, then a reversal of the introductory callsign (as featured on the first three releases), before concluding the RadiO TEST series with a street recording of outsider artist Pete, composer of “serious songs with a spirit of happiness”, singing ‘A Peck on the Cheek’ to wildly oscillating toy organ before he makes his way down to The Moor.
RadiO TESTs #1 – 4 are available for free download by following the links on the ‘Miscellaneous ORB / OI Audio’ section of the ORB Editions website ‘Releases’ page at: http://www.okok.org.uk/Releases/releasespage.htm#Misc_ORB_OI