A Life Lived As If In Hell sounds exactly like the title of the tape suggests; I reviewed one of Adel Souto’s releases as 156 before and it certainly did not have the dark connotations that this one does. The release is steeped in darkness and grief, not so much stemming from a violent side of things but from the simple use of textures and sound sources to evoke a harrowing experience throughout.
Both sides are simply titled “Sad A” and “Sad B.” On the first 15 minute track, 156 subjects us to all sorts of terrible sound sources mixed in with looping musique concrete; babies crying, women sobbing uncontrollably, the coughing music of a tuberculosis clinic are combined with 156’s manipulated electronics and sounds. The track tends to switch back and forth between the two – sometimes there’s recorded samples, other times there’s the sound of a metal ball rolling around in a can or what sounds like the release of exhaust fumes. These tones don’t make up a coherent track, but instead document the sound of suffering in a grim collage of horrific samples.
“Sad B” features more found sounds, including the quiet conversations of what sounds like a subway. Again they are paired with 156’s crafted noise, with bottle clanks and softened guitar or synth tones. The track morphs into combining the sound of a match lighting with the sharpening of a knife – it’s a strange pairing because I’m not sure exactly what context would bring the two together, but in a way 156’s idea works as a collage of horror sounds meant to be used for a Halloween eve.
“Sad B” isn’t as effective as the first side, and while both can be grueling listens they do tend to feel a bit disconnected. Yet A Life Lived As If In Hell is a terrifying experience if listened to in the right setting – it’s best to turn out the lights, relax in bed, and attempt to close your eyes without feeling watched.