THIS IS THE SOUND OF MENTAL ILLNESS
Formed by former psychiatric nurse, Graeme Revell and accomplice, Neil Hill, SPK were known for their boldly abrasive soundscapes and their loose political mantra that blamed government appointed capitalism for mental illness, evidenced by the political collective they’re named after. After a handful of three track 7 inches and the addition of instrumental member, Dom Guerin (aka Tone Generator), SPK moved away from the mechanical post-punk sound of their EPs and full steam into Information Overload Unit; a terrifying machine that swallows society and expels its excesses into meandering nothingness.
Face ULTRA (side a) opens with the urgent mess ‘Emanation Machine R. Gie 1916’, that panics like a poorly managed alarm bell evacuation. High pitched ringing and rumbling static shakes this track until all that remains is the quiet pulse of a drum machine that guided the track both through, and out the end of chaos. The tracks ‘Suture Obsession’ and ‘Macht Schrecken’ begin to communicate through vocals and sampled dialogue, albeit, heavily layered behind siren-like synth noises. Whereas in ‘Suture Obsession’ voices sound like sorry attempts of escape, ‘Macht Schrecken’ is dominated by samples of vintage porn and a TV presenter talking about chemical weapons. Both of which sound like they were recorded directly from TV sets, most likely after having been recorded onto VHS and feel like paranoid, schizophrenic disillusionment.
Face HYPER (side b) is curiously, not particularly hyper. ‘Ground Zero: Infinity Dose’ is like listening to capitalism crush your soul within the depths of a British, post-industrial wasteland. With its marching beat, static electronics and inaudibly processed vocals, your lack of wealth have most certainly identified you as a target. Face HYPER continues on to torturously antagonise the listener, placing emphasis on what’s between instead of all around. If Face ULTRA is the grating, schizophrenic emptiness of your mind, Face HYPER is the sorry, submissive realisation that there’s no going back.