Black Light Therapy
Complete Control Productions, 2011
Infiltrator’s LP comes shrouded in the sort of myths which usually accompany black metal releases. An anonymous collective of Swedes recorded harsh soundscapes to cassette, left them to molder for twenty years, then revisited them and applied further textures. The whispers of time in mental institutions in the interim are almost to be expected.
I’ve no idea what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to Black Light Therapy‘s origins, but it certainly sounds like the end result of the above story, and that’s really what matters more than empirical reality in cases like these. Its seven tracks are built on a foundation of muted, rumbling noise which recalls both comparatively recent developments in ambient black metal and the classic power electronics tradition which it claims as its lineage. Vocals and less abrasive electronics (presumably the recent additions) are blended in expertly.
In a sense, this dynamic between harsh, seemingly random sonic chaos and more composed and subtle elements might make Black Light Therapy some folks’ Platonic ideal of any record which touches upon the undefinable borders of whatever one categorizes as noise music. It’s likely to terrify and repulse those unfamiliar with such aggressive and uncompromising cacophony (again, staying true to the isolationist dogma of classic power electronics cassette culture), while never ceasing to be engaging, immersive, and possibly even relaxing to aficionados, who might find parallels with, say, Mark Spybey’s early Dead Voices On Air work or the the less rhythmic areas of the Cold Meat Industry catalog.
So often music of this sort couches itself within the categories of either ritual or endurance test; respectively, the listener is promised that he or she either will be transported into an altered state precisely crafted by the musical alchemist, or will emerge from combat with the record battered yet stronger for the conflict. The promotional copy cites the former as this record’s purpose, but I don’t think that’s its primary strength. Rather, Black Light Therapy deserves praise purely on the basis of its craft and composition. It’s rare that one gets such a satisfying listen out of this type of stuff, fer chrissakes. For all of the external hoopla about its creation myth, Black Light Therapy is a work which demands careful, repeat listening solely on its own intrinsic merits.