‘UHF’ is a brilliantly eerie follow-up to Hacker Farm’s previous ‘Poundland’ release. I imagine the makers of this album as spittle-flecked crazy noise technicians operating from some kind of rural survivalist bunker, packed with home-brewed electronics. It’s that sort of album; one to make your imagination run away with itself; illuminating dusty corners of the brain, corners that were best left dusty.
‘UHF’ is full of queasy listening, beginning on ‘5.29’ with a creaking of gears and a conveyor belt clanking. Further incremental additions: a tape wheeze here, a synth blurt there, suggest something constructing itself. Later, a beacon repeats at intervals; it’s left to the listener to decide if in warning or distress. I favour the former, beacons didn’t do the crew of the Nostromo any favours. ‘Deterritorial Army’ has a violent juddering stalled motorbike rhythm and sinister creeping post-punk bass line, oddly aligned with a Popul-Vuh hum. ‘Burlington’ conjures a ghostly windswept abandoned town, a lone zombie walking repeatedly into the locked door of a blood-splattered McDonalds; the bloops on this radiophonic rumbler evoke not the vastness of space but the litter of a plundered supermarket. ‘The Death of the Real’ offers cascading shadowy drones and machine-monk incantations. ‘Hinkley Point’ is a quaking mass of radiation and harsh frequencies. ‘Engine Room’ is full of hissing pipes and engine rumble; incomprehensible commands issue from unintelligible voices, ignored by the dead eyed glares of haunted submariners. ‘Grinch’ is beat driven; it sounds propelled by chains with a cyclical quality like a failing tape loop, scarred with grit. The best track is possibly ‘One Six Nein’ with its busted rusty techno and diseased propulsion; eruptions of noise scrape from the speakers while a voice intones what may be Hacker Farm’s manifesto, “Our hearts and minds are our own; they belong to us; they are not yours. We reject your so called culture; we embrace the real; we inhabit the now. This world is ours.”
This is an album sculpted from the debris of a post-boom economy: rusted trolleys in weed choked canals; tattered and urine soaked pay-day loan posters, fluttering in a non committal breeze. A landscape made weird, dangerous and depopulated. This is a soundtrack for the frayed edges of society, ballads for the edgelands.