Released in 1981, Information Overload Unit
was the first album from Australian musical project SPK. Initially lumped in with the first wave industrial crowd, the groups dissonant noise experiments eventually gave way to a stab at commercial success with the heavily synth pop/new wave orientated 1984 release Machine Age Voodoo
, later albums focusing on ambient and electronic territory such as Zamia Lehmanni: Songs of Byzantine Flowers
and Digitalis Ambigua: Gold & Poison
. It all started with SPK's best known works Information Overload Unit
however, which first garnered Graeme Revell and a revolving door of musicians some recognition and helped pave his way to become the successful hollywood film composer he is today.
If there is one way to describe this album, it is horrifying. Information Overload Unit
is a soundscape full of dread, coming from the mind of a drugged patient under a medical experiment gone wrong drifting in and out of consciousness occasionally punctuated by fits of pure terror and an inability to cope with it. It is comprised entirely of repetitive sounds treatments, first and foremost this a noise album and harsh, uncomfortable frequencies permeate throughout. Voice samples are heavily used, seemingly culled from sources such as medical documentaries and other esoteric material the group had sought an interest in whilst the sparse use of clanking, metallic percussion is the only real sense of rhythm to be found. The entire album runs along these lines, never missing a heartbeat when it comes to an uneasy atmosphere. I get the feeling of what I suspect dying on an operating table much be like from listening to Information Overload Unit
, something I don't particularly want to immerse myself in that often but when I do it is always a visit I feel all the better for having endured.
If there is anything to flaw, SPK's approach here may be a little too repetitive for it's own good. Information Overload Unit
is certainly a hard pill to swallow for the novice and veteran music listener alike, it is long, and about as far from easy listening as you can get with it's disjointed structures and sharp, painful textures. Although follow-up album Leichenschrei
would ultimately eclipse it, it is worthy as a footnote in the early development of industrial and noise music, still standing up well enough today.