Like some ingenious combination of John Cage‘s chance operations and the numbers station data stream captured on The Conet Project, Strategy‘s new album immerses listeners in baffling sonic waters. It’s a riveting work that converts the enigmatic effluvia of shortwave and dispatch radio chatter into thrumming, staticriddled clouds of ambience. An undercurrent of unease wafts through Information Pollution‘s four lengthy tracks, as barely audible molecules of aural junk never meant for public consumption get repurposed into an unsettling strain of inverted chillout music.
Information Pollution was born out of restraints. After moving into a new house with little space to set up his studio properly, Strategy (Portland producer Paul Dickow) could only work with a few devices at a time. He’d acquired an old Akai reeltoreel tape deck with tube preamps from his father, who’d recently cleaned out his own studio. Using radios, homemade effects boxes, and the tape deck, Strategy recorded these sound collages live to tape, without touching any synths or deploying any samples. ‘I discovered a lot of ghostly shortwave sounds,‘ Dickow says, ‘but also ambulance, parking, and school bus dispatch channels on forgotten frequencies that I think might have been once used for police or broadcast TV.’
The result falls somewhere between Philip Jeck‘s eroding turntable symphonies and William Basinski‘s poignantly decaying Disintegration Loops. Dickow relates that he uses the term ‘Information Pollution’ to classify ‘any spam, broadcast saturation, junk mail, invasion of unwanted information (that enters) the socialemotional public realm.’