Ridiculously prodigious, Australian electronic artist David Thrussell keeps releasing incredible work. Even if it’s not his own, offering obscure trainspotter nuggets via his Omni label, such as the jazz noir score for the 1971 Jean Seberg film Kill, by Berto Pisano’s and Jacques Chaumont, or out of print or never been in print Ennio Morricone, such as his improvised experimental music ensemble Gruppo Di Improvisazione Nuova Consonanza’s A Quiet Place in the Country.
Whilst you might know him under his Snog moniker, it’s his darker electronic Black Lung where he’s been most active recently. Last year he released The Great Golden Goal on the German label Ant-Zen, where the first half of the album was taut electro, without an ounce of fat, yet the second half offered a certain kind of loose structural freedom. He’s continued with the latter approach, though much more aggressively on Muzak From the Hive Mind. It’s musique concrete designed solely by barely harnessed synthesizers. In fact there’s something vaguely reminiscent of Tangerine Dream’s Phaedra, where the band were just tooling around trying to work out how to use their instruments. For Thrussell though it’s a spirit of experimentation and a refusal to be hemmed in by genre or structural constraints rather than any proficiency issues.
There are rhythms, and synthetic squiggles, bleeps and oscillating drones, and they’re all operating in some kind of post apocalyptic, post consumerist netherworld. There’s darkness and atonality, it’s not comfortable music, nor is it obvious music. No one is going to dance to this, the rhythms are fleeting; yet the deep bass rumblings ever present. In fact much of the album pairs deep bass tones with skittery, squelchy high pitch electrics, in fact it’s Thrussell’s understanding of and manipulation of his frequencies, and clear love of synthetic textures that make Muzak From the Hive Mind so compelling.
The album is a curious amalgamation of the abstract complexity of musique concrete with the soundtrack to a futuristic 1970’s science fiction film. It’s strange and compelling, with little to hold onto, and whilst the sonics are even at times quite seductive, the freeform approach to structure, whilst initially welcome, can over the course of the album become a little fatiguing. Yet there’s also a kind of benign hypnotism at play, where the drones and squiggles take on quasi-hallucinatory properties. Knowing Thrusell, and Black Lung you imagine this combination is not accidental, and in fact the effects this music or experimental muzak, has on you, is no doubt the first step in some form of cutting edge mind control.