NOTES: Primer came with the cassette The
Last Attempt At Paradise
|FRESH SOUNDS INC proudly announces
the release of SPK LIVE IN LAWRENCE, "The Last Attempt At Paradise.'
While striving to bring regional music to world exposure FRESH also
strongly feels responsible to not overlook area performances which have
been overlooked by others.
SPK - THE LAST ATTEMPT AT PARADISE :
SPK - LEICHENSCHREI (2nd LP)
SYSTEM PLANNING KORPORATION - INFORMATION OVERLOAD UNIT (1st LP)
SURGICAL PENIS KLINIK - MEAT PROCESSING SECTION 45 : MEKANO / SLOGUN
SPK - MEAT PROCESSING SECTION 45 W/ ONE MORE CUT
SPK - NO MORE / CONTACT / GERMANS EP
|STRETCHING THE LIMIT . . . .
Fakers fade as SPK outrages new wave rave
by DOUG HITCHCOCK
A prerecorded cassette of manic, swirling, synthesized white noises
blasted over the speaker system, punctuated by bass thumps and primal drum
rhythms, and Leichenschrei, the screams of the dead.
USING ELECTRONIC gadgetry, tape machines, a bass guitar, and, for percussion,
a pair of automobile coil springs, drums and syndrus -- electronic drums
with an endless range of effects -- the band produced an otherwordly wall
of sound. It could have been Kurtz' soundtrack from the Heart of Darkness.
"THESE GUYS had no memory span of more than five minutes," he said.
"And you had to retrain them every five minutes. For three months, three
hours a day, it just drove you insane."
|Walker Art Center
SPK is a controversial group of musical subversives who use synthesizers, noise tone generators, and other high-tech devices to produce a complex music that assaults existing aesthetic categories and preconditioned responses. Among the very few geninely futurist groups, SPK uses a highly scientific approach, going beyond the technological pop romanticism of bands such as Devo or Kraftwerk. Though American appearences by the Australian SPK have been exceedingly rare, their San Francisco show last year inspired William S. Burroughs to call them his favourite band. SPK's album, Information Overload Unit, appeared on the Side Effects label.
Thank you for your interest. This is the
first in a series of Dokuments, with the intention of providing a visual
interpretation of SPK to accompany standard aural output. This particular
Dokument is expressly intended for use with the first LP by SPK, Information
The project ideal is to express the content of various psycho-pathological conditions, especially shizophrenia, manic - depressive psychosis, mental retardation and paranoia. Information Overload supersedes normal, rational thought structures, forcing deviation inot less restrictive mental procedures of so-called 'mental illness'. SPK is trying to be a voice for those individuals condemned to the slow decay of mental hospitals and chemical / electro / surgical therapy, without fetishising them into blatant entertainment product. 'SONICS FOR MANICS' aims to be a vehicle for sharing mental experience through sound.
Owing to the instability of personalities associated with SPK output is likely to be irregular, as it has been up to now.
We would like to hear from anyone interested in what we are doing, especially those with interest in, or history of, pshycotic disorder. We will reply personally to all correspondence. Our name and material will vary with each project, but once established, you will have no difficulty in maintaining contact.
|STRESS REDUCTION TRAINING.
At the Neuropsychiactric Lab, in San Diego the men are shown a series
of films which become steadily more horrific. The trainee is ofrece to
watch by having his head clamped so he cannot turn away, and by the use
of a device which keeps his eyelids open. One of the first films shows
an African youth being circumcised with a blunt knife and without anaesthetic.
When the film is over, the trainee is asked questions like "What was the
motif on the knife handle?" or, "How many people were holding the youth
A technique used to exploit the need to comply is to spend hours asking and shouting questions to which the priosoner cannot possibly know the answer - details of atomci weaponry etc. Many ex-prisoners spoke of the "...tremendous feeling of relief you get when he finally asks you something you can answer."
The Russians were reported to have used succiny chlorine on Israeli prisoners in Syra, 1973. The drug, administred by injection, causes convulsive muscular spasms, leaving the victim totally paralised, in agonising pain, unable to breathe properly, but concious. The victim himself dying for lack of oxygen, although the effict is transitory, but there is then the threat of a repeat experience.
|Operation Black Eye is a good
example of psychological threat manipulation. Selected South Vietnam operators
were organized into terror squads, trained to infiltrate villages. As a
result, Viet Cong leaders started dying in their beds. On each of the bodies
was a piece of paper printed with a grotesque human eye, which came to
represent a threat. Next, 50,000 ofthe eyes were printed by the USA and
started appearing pinned to people's homes. Now the eye took a more potent
form because it was an uncertain threat.
Following the apperance of the Baader-Meinhof group, the Germans developed long-term solitary confinement units known as Tot Trakt (Silent Floor) in which all walls and furniture were painted harsh white, the lights were permanently on, and the windows were dark and extremely difficult to see through. This system led to Holger Meinz starving himself to death and to Meinhof's suicide by hanging in May 1976.
|NEWS FLASH:NEWS FLASH:NEWS FLASH:NEWS
ALL THE WAY WITH S.P.K.
SAN FRANCISCO: 17/4/82;
LOS ANGELES: 24/4
PHOENIX, ARIZONA: 25/4
LAWRENCE, KANSAS: 28/4
|MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA: 1/5
PLAYED AT THE WALKER ART CENTER, PROJECTED VIDEO FILM NECROPHILLIAQUE ON 20FT SCREEN. CREATED AN ATMOSPHERE OF FEAR TO AN AUDIENCE OF WHICH SOME WERE WHITE COLLAR AND MIDDLE AGE COUPLES.
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA: 2/5
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: 6/5
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS 16/5
NEW YORK: 1/6
NEW YORK: 7/6
NEW YORK: 13/6
DEPARTED USA 15/6 FOR LONDON
|Sunday, June 13:
SURGICAL PENIS KLINIK. Probing the alternative imagination and the depths of unconscious, SPK create metaphorically macabre music that exposes the demons of modern life like a raw nerve. Using electronic gadgetry, tape machines, bass guitar, automobile coil springs, and lots of metal, they produce an otherwordly wall of sound. From Australia, the group was formed in 1978 and released their first record on Throbbing Gristle's label, Industrial Records. Their second album just out on S.F.'s Thermador, assaults the senses with screaming Gregorian-chant vocals and low notes that vibrate the internal organs. The performance includes film and slides in a similar vein as the music. "The hardest, most uncompromising edge of the New Wave. . . their originality and intensity of instrumentation sets them apart from others in the 'experimental' heap" (New Musical Express). Not for the feint of heart, but NOT TO BE MISSED.
But dispite my misgivings about both the attitudes and the music these
furtive little sluggards make, occasionally I hear something that isn't
instantly dismissable -and that's the case with SPK, I'm surprised
to say SPK is yet another noxious ensemble obessed with medical-textbook
photos of decaying flesh, solemn to the point of rigor mortis, and seemingly
even more mired pathology than their chums in Throbbing Gristle. But SPK
-- which sometimes stands for Surgical Penis Klinik -- occasionally commits
some intriguing noises to vinyl, and while their "Mekano" b/w "Slogun"
(Industrial import single) was a bore, the new LP, Leichenschrei (roughly
translated, "scream of the dead"), on Berkeley-based Thermidor Records,
is the best record in this coprophiliac genre that I've endured. What sets
Leichenschrei apart are it's variety of effects, which range from
dub-influenced ping-pong percussion to to natural sounds to tape loops,
all of which are displayed and faded with enough speed to keep the tedium
at a minimum. Obviously this isn't a blanket recommendation, even to liberal,
open-minded Reader readers, but if you salivate at the sight of
Slug Bait, this may be the platter for you.
|SPK DOKUMENT II
The second in the series to update on progress and projekts. We have begun
working on the second album: LEICHENSCHREI, due for release from
the US in May, 82. This will be the final product, as we originally intended.
However, there will be a movement into video and film, beginning with L'Etat
Haemophiliaque (Intemal Bleeding) which is in progress and will have
its first screening in Australia later this year. SPK will then specialise
in soundtrack, a medium we have always had a strong sympathy with.
In response to the considerable interest shown in our projekt so far, we
have decided to devote a Dokument to an explanation of some of the areas
of research into sound and visuals which we have used. Subliminal content
in lyrics and voice tapes occupies much of our attention. However it requires
feedback from others in order to evaluate their effectiveness. That is
why we always encourage personal correspondence, even though various members
of the group prefer to remain anonymous (as far as possible). In addition,
we try to provide some interesting information on experiments into mental
phenomena, and to dispel some of the boring myths about infra/ultra-sonics.
We have often been asked the reason for apparently limiting ourselves to
the mental sphere. The answer is that we feel the need to intensify interest
in the SPECIFIC locus of consent to be repressed in the individual. We
therefore claim to be "political," but not in the accepted sense of the
term. In 1982 SPK will abandon its earlier practice of limited publik appearances,
with scheduled live assaults in Japan, Europe and Amerika.
SOUNDS OF EMOTIONAL DISTURBANCE There exist dynamic mechanisms whereby
the emotionally disturbed person produces a specific acoustic impact on
Acoustic patterns are subject not only to the physiological laws governing respiration and phonation, but also to social rules regarding acoustic expression of emotion. Experiments by Peter Ostwald in 1960 resulted in objectification of some patterns into four categories: 1. Hysterical/excited subjects produced a 'sharp' voice with acoustic doubling in the mid-range, identical to children's voices. 2. Depresse`Vobsessional people show persistent fixing of one fundamental tone, and a midrange pattern smeared out in a 'flat' way across the spectrum. 3. Organically ill/emotionally drained subjects have characteristically 'hollow' voices with just a single concentration of sound energy at the low end of the spectrum. There is steady dropping off of energy in the mid-range and wasting away in the upper region, responsible for unintelligibility. 4. A 'robust' voice was characteristic of those who felt the need to be heard, to impress and influence others. This was most often displayed by epileptic personalities, and by hypomaniacs and some neurotic subjects. But what effects do such impact patterns have on the auditory system of the listener? The intake structure of the human ear favors the mid-range of the acoustic spectrum. Sounds there produce a much stronger impact than equally intense insonation at the upper and lower extremes. Hence the reason that the human scream is concentrated over that area. Acoustic records of psychiatric patients reveals certain peaks along the frequency-intensity spectrum more recurrent and prominent than others. When subjected to stress situations, ordinary subjects exhibit a gain in acoustic intensity at 125Hz and 500Hz. It is more complicated with psychiatric patients, but the measure of total loudness is significant also at 500Hz. In addition these observations were taken before and after various standard types of treatment, the results showing that there was a significant increase in loudness after electroconvulsive therapy and a decrease after drug treatment. It is of interest that the 500HZ band is the most significant, since it is here that the neonatal infant emits the first cry. The experiments also showed there was little difference between patterns of the two sexes, indicating that sounds of acutely disturbed patients stem from some primitive, pregenital response pattern. SUBLIMINALS AND UNCONSCIOUS The unconscious provides frames through which consciously perceived data is interpreted and evaluated. The task of art, music, literature, psychoanalysis and advertising, is to penetrate and manipulate these structures. The effectiveness of any of these fields has very little to do with conscious perception. The most blatant use of subliminals is of course found in advertising, but in art is goes a lot further back. The most usual technique is EMBEDDING of words or pictures in the ground of the advertisement, behind the figure (or obvious focal point). This technique was a favorite with 18th Century artists, and must later Dali, Escher etc. A subliminal imprint of the word SEX can even be found in a Rembrandt. This is the most common of a vocabulary of eight words (including CUNT, FUCK and DEATH) which are very frequently embedded in advertising copy. The word is either painted on a photoengraving plate with asphaltum and briefly immersed in acid, or lightly airbrushed into a photograph in hair, folds of clothing, etc., or written onto a transparent overlay, photographed alone at about 1/2,000 of a second, then double exposed at the art layout at around 1/100 of a second. The zenith of obscenity was reached in the daily newspaper photograph of Vietnam atrocities, which often had an extraordinary mosaic of SEX's scrawled subliminally over them (see photo) [TIME March 1971]. To sell war better? To make it more palatable? More erotic? The other technique used very often is incorporating ANAMORPHIC images into the copy. This is high distortion, often grotesque, and only at times consciously distinguishable. One of the earliest examples in art is Holbein's anamorphic skull in the Ambassadors (1533). Frequently this method of triggering unconscious response in advertising involves strange and distorted shadows in the ground. Television and film have incorporated subliminals for a long time. They are presumed banned from television but are often so subtle that they escape censorship. A fairly recent example in film was the apparently innocuous Exorcise where the whole
|range of techniques was used,
including death-mask embeds of two frames at 1/48 of a second. This was
consciously visible to about 1/3 of the audience, and another 1/3 was vaguely
aware of it upon questioning. But the group on whom the film showed most
emotional impact were those who had not noticed it at all, i.e. those who
had consciously repressed the images.
Soundtracks are also especially important in management and control of movie audiences. Hitchcock ranked sound as more vital to the success of his suspense movies than his visual illusions. It is often claimed that subliminal material does not really affect the subject. In fact it is true that the subtlety is difficult to specify in simple cause-effect terminology. But it can be shown that there is something going on in the unconscious by watching EEG and galvanic skin response meters, and retinascopes which measure the compulsive expansion/contraction of the retina, plus Mackworth camera which tracks the ultra-fast movements of the fovea across any scene. In addition the Poetzle Effect whereby people exposed to subliminal ads reveal their effectiveness much later by unconsciously choosing that brand out of a wide range, is statistically verified. Experiments with fovea cameras have shown that the fovea moves in a saccade from point to point in response to symbolizing content. Symbols involving death will pull the eye irresistibly towards a specific locus, and even sex has to run second in Westem culture in almost 100% of cases. Design elements - lines of movement or attention - also are vital in directing the fovea. Meaning is derived from the sequence of microsecond stops compulsively made by the fovea in its saccades. Change the sequence and the meaning changes, even though the frame content remains the same. BEHAVIOR CHANGES PRODUCED BY ACOUSTIC STIMULI. Systematic manipulation of the acoustic environment can and has been used as a primary technique for influencing human behavior. High intensity noise was used in the cells of the prison at Sta'T~nheim in West Germany where the Baader-Meinhof were imprisoned. The constant inability to hear the sounds of their own bodies and the unceasing stress caused must have been a major factor in their suicides. The intensity level is the most important feature. Noise above 130 dB leads to loss of space orientation, above 140 and the subject feels nauseous and may vomit. At 145 dB the stretch receptors of muscles, joints and tendons are affected and the movement of limbs becomes disorganized. And at 150 dB the skin receptors are activated producing heat pain. But in addition to stress, there is the annoyance factor. To speak intelligibly in noise requires 18 dB more volume than the noise signal, and the listener must also work harder. Feedback mechanisms are interfered with when one can't hear one's own sounds, leading to speech retardation, blocking, slurring and repetition. In addition the nomlal speech rhythm and intonation patterns are lost and subjects produce strange noises. They also laugh aggressively and erotically, and most significantly reveal information they would otherwise have never divulged. This pattern is most notable in acute paranoid schizophrenics where aggressive behavior and panic reactions involving hyperparanoia can be induced. Finally one can consciously or unconsciously attribute meaning to noise because it frustrates the habitual listener demand for precise environmental clues. Noise had the capacity to suggest various imaginary and autistic interpretations which may disturb. Human body sounds are also the subject of investigation as to their effects on listeners. Respiratory sounds have been found to have a hypnotic effect when amplified and resumed to the ears of the breather and others. Panting produces anxiety and wheezing seems to stimulate paternal/maternal "instincts." found that behavior and development of babies can be sped up by exposure to taped heart beats. Those in the experimental group exhibited increase in weight, greater depth and regularity of respiration, less restlessness and crying, and fewer gastro-intestinal problems. An intimate relationship between the sound of urination and human auditory responsivity has often been noted (first by Van der Heide 1941), but the study was never completed. It is possible that the foetal development of the urogenital tract and the ear are related in some way. Tests carried out by psychologists in the auditory field show much the same unconcious processes operating as for visuals. It is fairly easy to see that sublimal stimuli presented at intensity just below that necessary to hear them properly will trigger off psychic responses. But a stimulus influences not only output behavious, but also input, because the meaing of the word contributes to its audibility. Sex words presented 5db below threshold to anorexics, for exapmple, let to signigicantly more food responses that neutral or conscious stimuli. It is important however to adopt an attitude to sublimal techniquse, as to most technology, that it is not, in itself, a grat evil. The problem is that we are being manipulated without our knowledge for purely commercial or reputational gain by corporations or artists interested in pantentialting specific responses. In both cases the subject has no choice in the matter. However, it is possible to use the idea in another way. The educational potential of sublimals is enourmous, since it is experimentally shown that thresholds for learning are much lower at the unconscious than the conscious level, where distraction, anxiety, tension and fear control the thresholds. In film and sound production it is possible to include sublimals which can potentiate free associations in the
|unconscious, rather than dictating
any specific response to it and denying it any choice or participation
in the process. INFRA / ULTRA SOUND. Sound
sources at frequencies outside the nomlal limits of human auditory response
are the subject of much popular mythology. First research in depth by the
US Military in the 50s, they are now used primarily in warfare and medical
applications. SPK has been using certain kinds of low and high frequency
generators: for some time in live assaults. Here we present some facts
about such signals. Infrasound, or frequencies below 20 Hz, is commonly
the byproduct of transport, air heating/cooling systems, compressors, transfommers,
and vibration/acceleration phenomena. But in order to experimentally generate
these frequencies at adequate levels for hearing (or rather for experiencing),
requires immense power and large and specialized equipment (e.g. piston-driven
speakers). The loudness factor necessary is in excess even of the loudest
aero-turbine at some frequencies. However, once generated, annoyance thresholds
increase very fast as we take the oscillator or noise generator down through
the range. Once the tactile sensations become evident there is a dramatic leap in the response curve (i.e. below 10 Hz). At 20 Hz it requires 85.2 dB for the signal to be perceived, rising to 92.1 dB at 15 Hz, 99.5 at 10 Hz, 111.1 at 5 Hz, and a massive 121.4 dB at 2 Hz. The following subjective responses were experimentally gained by subjecting test subjects to whole-body fields. 2 - 5 Hz (137 dB) - difficulty in speaking/voice modulation, chest wall vibration, swaying sensations, lethargy, drowsiness, headaches and fatigue. 5 - 15 Hz - middle ear pain, difficulty speaking/voice modulation, severe chest wall vibration, severe abdomen vibration and nausea, falling sensation, lack of concentration/drowsiness, severe fatigue/headache. 15 - 20 Hz - severe middle-ear pain, respiratory difficulty, severe chest wall vibration, gagging sensations, spasm of uncontrollable coughing, nasal cavity vibration, persistent eye watering, fear symptoms (including excessive perspiration/shivering), severe fatigue/headaches. In two cases (both female) cuntaeous flushing. Yet perhaps most interesting of all is that in no case did any of the subjects request that the experiment be discontinued, though several were unwilling to submit to a repetition. In fact if the same volume of sound is fed to experimental subjects at frequencies above theinfrasonic region (e.g. from 50 -100 Hz) the above symptoms are seen to be far more acute, and at lower volumes. At the other end of the spectrum, it is necessary to have more specialized equipment for generating signals in the megahertz range. But the effects are severe and applied in sophisticated weapons technology. Ultrasound works by raising the temperature of living tissue, the main parameter being DURATION of exposure rather than variation in frequency or intensity of the source. The threshold temperature is inversely related to the logarithm of duration, for irreversible damage to the mammalian central nervous system it is sufficient to generate a signal of 2.7 MHz pulsing 10 - 200 microseconds sustainer for anywhere between 0 1 - 180 microseconds, giving a temperature rise of 42c. Specific effects from experiments at similar levels Neurological/Behavioral - altered BEG, altered emotional behavior, delayed neuromotor reflex, development in foetus. Genetic - decreased incorporation of nucleic acid, precursors, chromosomal aberrations, DNA strand degradation. Foetal Development - mutations, postpartum mortality, reduced weight, altered emotional behavior. Hematological/Vascular- decreased clotting time, haemorrhage, blood stasis. Immunal System - depressed response in general, spenomegaly. ART BRUT Art Brut is the name given to the collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and writings by patients in mental asylums of France, or by people found living in total obscurity producing works producing works of art obsessionally. It is housed in a small museum in Laussane, Switzerland and periodically is shown at obscure venues around Europe. The quality of the work is screened (for better or worse) with a view to retaining only that which seems entirely original. The result is a living array of undecipherable calligraphiks, primitivist figures, unreadable muzik, and obsessive designs as well as a vast array of curious paintings of style found nowhere in "art history". Some of the more interesting people are Adolf Wolfi, who aged 25 molested young girls, was given 2 years jail, and later, a similar offense led him to be interned at Waldau. He was conceptionally violent and spent 20 years in solitary confinement. In 1899 he began to write, design, and compose musik, working feverlishly day and night. His muzikal works are not able to be interpretated in the ordinary way, appearing to be for vusual effect and incorporating strange collages. Heinrich Anton Muller began in 1917 to design and cover the walls of his room iwh symbolic images. He also made funcionless machines, this work occupying him for 12 years. Then in 1925 he suddenly began again and produced a completely different set of designs. Robert Gie was hospitalised for 14 years as alcoholic, until 1922, where he suffered from delusions of paranoid variety. Most of his work was done around 1916, and its complex linkages between man and machine figuring control of mental process, is far in advance of such ideas in mainstream art. xywoleh vay barec het vay yomar ha elohe elohim ascher tywohe hythale chuabotay lep ha nawabra hanveys ha hakla elohim haro he otymeo dy addhayon hazze hamalech hago (SOLOMON'S KEY) Lyrics from SPK's forthcoming LP. reprint from SPK DOKUMENT II
|SPK Primer is designed
to accompany FRESH TAPE 103. Proof photos courtesy Richard Schneider.
All photos from the Lawrence performance. All information has been reprinted. Press clips courtesy Lawrence Journal-World, Average Normal, LA Reader and Walker Arts Center. Tour news courtesy SPK Appreciation Society in Sidney. Portions of Dokument I and condensed Dokument II courtesy SPK. Special thanks to all involved. --Bill Rich, Special Project Director, Fresh Sounds Inc., P.O. Box 36, Lawrence, KS 66044, USA.