Since I can remember, I’ve always been pretty solitary and preferred my own company. When I want to be, I can be the life and soul of the party but I’ve always had a preference for a more relaxed setting, chatting with a couple of people or just being on my own. This led me to believe that I would be totally fine in lockdown, and would barely notice if I had to quarantine away from society and my own family because of COVID-19.
I think a lot of people, me included, underestimate both the long and short term effects of social isolation on our mental and physical wellbeing. This is the angle that one-man noise doom project Quarantine takes with their second album, The Perception of Pain, a 40-minute exploration of the feelings and effects of social isolation inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic and response.
We’re still living through this as I write, but at the peak, hundreds of thousands of people died unable to say goodbye to loved ones. Many more were on the other side of this, also barred from congregating for a funeral. Millions of us were unable to leave our home, either because we were at the greatest risk or because we were fearful of harming others who were at risk. The fear of being caught out without a proper reason also laid heavy on many. So many people developed severe anxiety issues because they were unable to do so and had to go to work every day, knowing they had no choice but to put their family at risk.
The Perception Of Pain is the sound of trying to deal with all of this on top of knowing that we in the UK have the worst possible government at the worst possible time. It is not pleasant, nor is it supposed to be. Industrial noise blends with and evolves into something resembling a song structure before mutating into noise again. The only shred of humanity you will experience in your time with The Perception Of Pain is the grotesquely distorted voice that occasionally cuts through the noise, most notable on album centerpiece While The World Burns.
That isn’t to say this nightmare experience is without any musical merit. Harsh industrial noise is somewhat of an acquired taste but as you listen you will notice the layers of noise carefully placed to allow some semblance of progress in each track. There will still be the tape hiss or screeching carried through from passage to passage but the landscape underneath warps and bends. This builds from harsh ambience into claustrophobic and panic-inducing noise. The second track Without Intervention treats us to this song structure early on where the ambience builds, noise erupts and slowly fades out to give us a longer ambient passage that morphs into an eerie voice screaming “Can’t you see it?“.
Let’s not get things twisted, this is Godflesh style industrial noise, so know what you are getting into before you hit play. This sounds like getting caught in a whirlwind as it rips through a fabrication plant. Human emotion is sometimes beautifully expressive, but other times it sounds exactly like this.
Quarantine’s The Perception of Pain will be released through Trepanation Recordings on 9th July. You can order one of the limited (20) cassettes or buy it digitally here.