Review Summary: In the belly of AM.
Typically, albums conveying paranoia do so one-dimensionally; we’ll get a lingering eeriness, some unsettling sounds, and maybe some introspection, but most of it tends to be one-note. Experimental Russian collective Won James Won have a more colourful take on paranoia than most. On Prozrachnik
, we definitely get pervasive anxiety, but there’s also laughter, reminiscing, and wallowing, all bound by a unique brand of storytelling. Often, the encroaching sense of discomfort changes route, refusing to grow acclimatized to its own devices. We get horror movie audio samples, pessimistic news reports, static, synths, contorted tape music, chaotic art rock, and a number of effects nearly impossible to describe. “Every Spring She Floats Up” has the feeling of strained optimism: a ritual carried out for the sake of ritual, with ever-reducing expectations, and bastardized traditions. “Nuclear Civil War!” starts with a humorous argument juxtaposed with a black metal backdrop, soon calmed with a sobering newscast, and what could be a billion lives flashing before two billion eyes. Opener “Escape From a Nutsy Dust Camp” begins similarly to poking your head up through a manhole in a dystopian metropolis; you’re thrust into a flurry of lasers, menacing robotics, muffled cries of terror, and what you suspect is a one-sided battle between man and machine.
That said, there doesn’t seem to be a discernible storyline throughout Prozrachnik
- at least, not within reach. It could be seven short stories, all bound by a shared illness. The bandcamp page mentions a Cold-War era haunting presence, so maybe comparisons could be drawn to Harlan Ellison’s classic horror periodical I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream
, in that it could represent what might have happened had the Cold War escalated into worldwide devastation at the hands of computers. That’s probably the most coherent explanation possible, as most of Prozrachnik
is fucking all over the place, as expected with a Won James Won creation. That’s not to say the far-flung compositions don’t segue together sensibly, and perhaps their most impressive feat is in doing so. Their early-industrial sensibilities are likely to inspire comparisons to the music of Cabaret Voltaire and such (including the roots of dadaism, but minus the conversion to dance music). Possibly the most poignant aspect of the album - and maybe accidentally so - is the perseverance of creativity and, daresay, comedy when any tangible trace of humanity seems to be hanging by a thread. If humour and creativity are distinctly human qualities, then there’s something profound in how Won James Won weave their tapestry.