VA: The Black Box

Put simply, The Black Box is the satanic counterpart to FM3's Buddha Machine. In contrast to the latter's soothing ambient loops, The Black Box, a portable, battery-powered soundbox, plays nine disturbing tracks, any one of which can be played as a theoretically endless loop. Aptly named, the device stands vertically like a miniature, coal-black tombstone and can be listened to with headphones or without. Flingco Sound System's anti-Buddha Machine features pieces especially constructed for the box by FSS roster artists Cristal (a Richmond, Virginia electronics outfit featuring Jimmy Anthony, Greg Darden, and Bobby Donne), Haptic (a Chicago trio featuring percussionist Steven Hess joined by Joseph Clayton Mills and Adam Sonderberg on electronics), and Wrnlrd (an unidentified black metal entity who calls Arlington, Virginia home) in addition to two spoken word pieces from Annie Feldmeier Adams.

The first loop features a laconic voice uttering the mantra “Today, I will not kill myself” in a way that suggests the desperate soul repeating it is doing so in the hope of staving off the suicidal impulse. Imagine the looped sound of barbed wire being scraped by a steel rod and you'll have some idea of the second piece's deathly shimmer; anchored by a repeating percussive thud, the third drills a brittle, high-pitched thrum into the core of one's brain to truly unsettling effect, while the eardrum-lacerating fourth convulses like an especially vicious seizure. The fifth's distorted mantra, “I don't feel anything,” arrives as a welcome relief after the brutalizing fourth track, and gives the listener a chance to steel him/herself for the creaking drone and schizoid wrist-slasher that follow. They're like Sunday strolls, however, when heard alongside the hammering convulsions of the eighth; mercifully, the ninth brings the aural violence down a notch or two, and paves the way for the opening mantra to re-appear. Guaranteed to keep unwanted relatives and solicitors kilometres away from your door, the hellacious box has been made available in a mass run of 2000 so get it while you can.

September 2009