Meanwhile on the Isle of Man the situation has worsened. The extent to which society there has collapsed is still a matter of speculation. Mainland communications ceased several weeks ago, and we have neither heard nor seen anything from its inhabitants since. What we do know is that before communication was lost, widespread and sustained public disorder meant that infrastructure and industry had largely collapsed, and the struggle to regain order was ongoing.
The following communication, if we can call it that, we received quite by accident. A metal box, stamped in black ink as the product of the island, and smelling of foul engine oil, washed up on a quiet stretch on Lancashire beach and was discovered on the shore by a dog walker. Inside were several spools of audio tape, dry and undamaged by their journey. If the box was sent into the sea by accident or on purpose we cannot yet be sure, but what we do know is that it represents what is so far the only communication from an island which we can neither reach nor contact. What really went on there, we only have this excerpt.
The six tapes are accompanied by some damaged and oblique literature which appears to identify them by different, though obscure names. The sonic contents present a frankly unfathomable amalgamation of industrial noise and rhythms accompanied by a single human male voice. The nature of the tapes has required the expertise of several analysts from a range of disciplines, the better we might understand what we can learn from them.
Throughout the six segments is a consistent and remarkably ferocious drone of such amplitude that it dominates the entire document, suggesting the spontaneous nature of what is captured. There is some agreement on the origin of the noises: malfunctioning electrical grids, circuitry roughly dismantled, large overwrought engines and the recalcitrant shriek of metal on metal. Added to this is the single, sinister voice present throughout though often obscured by the noise, requiring a careful and dedicated ear. A leading acoustic engineer, Mr Gedge, has reported as recognizing the voice, but is yet unable to positively identify it, and close analysis continues. Speech content is a combination of exhortations, whispers, incantations and something approaching singing. Content addresses a range of concerns in a type of storytelling utilizing a dialectic form of English, a somewhat old-fashioned idea of “oral culture” and which may shed light on the ongoing situation on the island.
Of the tapes themselves, No. 5 (A Copse of Trees) seems to be a recital of an unknown screenplay, suggesting the islanders still have access to cultural documents and some understanding of their uses. No. 4 (Ghosts to Starboard) perhaps uses notions of the paranormal to meter out punitive judgment on the vain and greedy. Most disconcertingly, No. 1 (The Occult Soul Review) details an encounter with the devil.
Analysts have so far brought forward a number of intriguing theories on the nature and delivery of this material, and what it tells us about life on the island. One is that they are some form of reportage, though we can confidently dismiss this — despite the tangible reality of the scenarios detailed, the fantastical elements stretch credulity. It seems more likely they reflect either one, or a combination of, the following: the deranged response of the individual, weakened by physical and psychic peril, struggling to come to terms with a transformed landscape; or, an attempt to understand and control a disunited mass of people, in the absence of the state, through a conjuring trick of malevolent supernatural forces and the reintroduction of folk devils. A basic, post-industrial witchcraft aimed at social control.
Lending coherence to this idea is the way the noise, though initially forbidding, over sustained exposure seems to coalesce into a primitive form of music, perhaps with the aim of inducing a trance-like state. No. 2 (Thomas Merton 240 Volts) for example creates a meditative space from a discordant drone and pivots on the repetition of the phrase: “Inflame thyself with prayer — invoke, often.” Analysts have, following lengthy exposure, reported to such contrasting emotional states as terror, excitation and great joy. No. 3 (The Midnight Boat), meanwhile, appears to fashion a simple popular music structure from its internal disquiet, as though the shared cultural memory of mass entertainment were being recreated from second-hand accounts and its black charred remains.
Clearly, more time and research is required before the exact nature of this evidence comes to light. It may require some leaps of faith and imagination to understand this document as a form of social control or the details of insanity lashed together from the literal wreckage of a formerly peaceful, if rather obscure community, rather than some form of elaborate practical joke, a theory also put forward. If, as we suspect, the former is true, then it may be necessary for the United Kingdom to intervene as soon as possible. It is my personal view, however, drawn from the overbearing sense of dread which fogs these recordings, that it may very well already be too late for the Isle of Man.
The Chasms Bandcamp