Posts Tagged ‘Nihilism’

The primitivism of Modern Technology’s raw sound, coupled with your lyrical content says you’re not entirely happy with where modern technology and late capitalism has brought us. Would you like to walk us through the band’s ethos and politics?

Owen Gildersleeve: When Modern Technology first formed we were going through a really difficult time – The Brexit process had just kicked in and Trump had found his way into power – so it was tough to create anything that felt as though it had any worth. I remember sitting in my studio around that time trying to get on with work just thinking ‘this is all meaningless’.

Chris and I both really needed a place to vent and Modern Technology became just that – Somewhere we could speak out for frustrations and unleash some of our anger about what was happening in the world and the chaos we found ourselves in.

Chris Clarke: Absolutely, Modern Technology was started through a shared catharsis. I see the whole process as a physical and emotional release, using the band as a platform to mirror society and give a floor the injustices and social discomforts that saturate us.

I would align us more towards socially focused than politically focused. Politically there are things we ultimately disagree with, and strands of that weave through our writing. But we tend to focus on the effects rather than the cause in our writing. Sometimes this manifests in highlighting the mundanity, sometimes it’s much more drawn from our own experiences – but ultimately we always try and leave a bit of room for interpretation, both in the way the lyrics are constructed and the themes to hopefully encourage some conversation rather than polarity.

Where did it all go wrong?

Chris: Owen and I were born pre-internet age and have seen the acceleration of technology advance faster than our understanding of the detriment to our mental health. It is something both marvellous and monstrous, and for all its virtues it has been manipulated to really illuminate the cracks in us. Our private lives are now public reality — we break down the minutiae into a public commodifiable event — and then give this away for free through interfaces that profit from our addiction. Politics is stuck and the idealised idea of democracy from centuries past is fundamentally outdated. It’s largely accepted that we can’t continue on this trajectory — It will eventually break.

I feel politically we’re caught in a cycle — hoping for our next liberator — but our focus is all wrong. We should be questioning how we got here in the first place. Only when we understand that we can truly break the mould. My concern is that we’re all products of our own making, too internally focused to think beyond the status quo, and that’s exactly where the governments want us – idle, predictable, safe. Personally for me the true thing is the fear of not knowing — not knowing how this all ends. Where reality is our best shared hallucination.

Was there a specific rationale behind being a two-piece, and do you find there are any particular limitations to operating within that setup?

Owen: It came as quite a natural thing. Before Modern Technology formed Chris and I had been jamming on and off for many years in a variety of different setups, but it didn’t quite click until we came together just the two of us. There was a real raw energy, with both the bass and drum sounds being so clear that you couldn’t hide behind anything. We also enjoyed playing with those limitations – Seeing how far we can push the sound just the two of us, and also stripping back an instrument at certain points to reveal the space.

Chris: To link with your description of us — The primitivism spurs a little from our limitations, both in talent and the constraints being a two piece affords. It’s something we both delight in, allowing the tension between bass and drums to manifest in ways that are quite precise. The limitations are important to us because it truly focuses our music. We know the scope and parameters that we can work within and this often forces us to try sometimes naive and unexpected combinations of things, purely from trying to work around our constraints.

A bass guitar inherently is restricted, it has fewer strings and a low emphasis. We couple that with a set of loud humbuckers and a board of pedals that have a myriad of different distortions and ways of producing slight variances in harmonics. The MT sound comes a lot through mixtures of cheap digital and analog pedals — that help create that tone that’s slightly industrial.

There’s a real transparency that we also enjoy — being a two piece really lays you bare — with Owen and I really having to work hard to stay mechanical and locked rather than being able to hide behind more musicians.

Modern Tech

What’s your creative process? Is it quite structured, or is it something more organic?

Owen: The process is really organic, more so than any bands I’ve been in before. Chris and I really enjoy jamming and that tends to lead to at least a couple of new ideas each practice. Also unlike previous bands Chris doesn’t mind me chipping in on bass riff ideas, kindly not mocking my hummed riffs that I’ll send over from time to time. Although when Chris eventually plays them he does always make them a lot better!

Chris: I guess we have a very explorative approach, we take great joy in just stepping in a room and playing on different trajectories till something eventually overlaps. There’s nothing better for us when that moment clicks and you’ve lost an hour playing the same riff. As mentioned earlier — it’s exactly that catharsis in why we started the band in the first place. It’s a physical and emotional release for us, a chance for us to really vent, where in our day to day we are both quite controlled human beings.

Musically, you sit somewhere in a bracket of noisy, nihilistic post-punk. Who would you say you feel most affinity with, both in terms of precursive influences and contemporaries?

Owen: When we first met, although we had a lot of similar musical interests, there was definitely a bit of a divide in our tastes – Chris coming from a more punk, grind and psychobilly background, and myself listening to more metal, sludge and doom. So meeting in the middle has been an interesting process and I think has led to quite a different sound than we could have expected.

Chris: Owen and I both originally hail from the south west of England, which during our childhood seemed to be the perfect stomping ground for alternative music. Growing up I had a lot of musical influences that crossed a myriad of genres. It’s hard to really pinpoint any specific bands, but there has always been a strong undercurrent of real authentic voice within the music.

I jokingly once described us as a post-truth band, which however forced that terminology might be, certainly describes a step on from where we may be labeled as post-punk or post -industrial to something more fitting of the influences we draw our references from now.

The sound marries a bunch of different inspirations for us. Musically and culturally — What’s important for me is creating an ‘atmosphere’ — one that feels exasperated, worn-out and futile. Which on reflection I guess goes some way to explaining some of the melodrama in the vocal style. It certainly wasn’t an intentional subversion to sing like that — it just seemed to help add depth to the tight, rhythmic pattern the music was developing in.

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The profits from your debut EP went to Shelter and Mind. Would it be fair to say you’re more concerned with societal issues than success in the conventional sense? And why did you choose those particular charities

Owen: We never started the band to make any money or for any sort of success – In fact it’s been quite a pleasant surprise that people are enjoying what we do. So when we started looking at selling our record it didn’t sit well with us to keep the profits and we thought it would be much more appropriate to try to give something back to those affected by all of this mess that our songs explore.

That’s when we decided that any profits we make off the physical and digital release will go to charities Mind and Shelter. Shelter is doing some amazing work with the homeless and people on low income, which unfortunately has become far too common after years of austerity and benefit cuts. Mind is also doing some incredible work for mental health – an area which has in the past been overlooked, but is becoming an ever-growing issue with society’s increasing demands, stresses and strains. Their work also links back to Shelter’s, as a lot of people going through housing issues unfortunately also suffer from mental health problems along the way, so the two charities feel like good close allies.

So far we’ve raised nearly £600 through our record sales and we hope to make even more through our upcoming shows.

You’ve a handful of live dates coming up, and the shows feature some cracking lineups (especially the London show, which is also a charity benefit gig). How did they come about?

Owen: We were contacted by James from Lump Hammer to say they were planning to come down from Newcastle and whether we’d like to do some shows together. We set about making plans and thought it would be nice to try and do something special for the London show – bringing together a range of friends we’ve met through our music and trying to raise some money for charity. The response has been amazing and we were delighted to have so many amazing artists agreeing to get involved!

We’ll be joined on the night by the amazing noise-punkers Bruxa Maria who we’re all huge fans of and who are about to bring out a new album, so expect some of that! A fantastic chap called Mr Christopher Nosnibor will also be joining us for a one-off collaboration with absurdly prolific home-made electronics and noise artist Cementimental aka Tim Drage. The show is being co-promoted by the excellent Total Cult who have put together a Spotify playlist of the line-up, alongside some top Hominid Sounds and Black Impulse selections.

The London charity show will be held at The Victoria, Dalston on Friday 28th June. Tickets are just £5 from Seetickets, Dice & Eventbrite. You can find out more about the show on the Facebook event page. It should be a really fun night so if you’re in London in June make sure to be there!

After that, we then move onto Leicester to play at show with the the brilliant promoters The Other Window and then finally to Brighton to team up with the excellent Pascagoula. It’s going to be one hell of a weekend!

Modern Tech gig

Could you summarise what you do and what you’re about in a single sentence?

Chris: If you are neutral in times of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor — Desmond Tutu

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Modern Technology’s eponymous debut EP got us foaming with excitement the other week, and they’ve now unveiled a video for the song ‘Project Fear’, which pairs the full-throttle guitar abrasion and politically-charged anger with stark, grainy black and white images that seer the retinas. It’s fucking mint, and you can watch it here:

Bleak Recordings/Division Records – 22nd September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Black Earth is pitched as and expansion on their previous releases, and as ‘a sonic mammoth that pushes their music even further into new dimensions of heaviness, harshness and despair.’ We also learn that ‘the lyrical themes are directly related to the presence and function of men in the planet and, particularly man himself.’ Given that man has pretty much singlehandedly fucked up the planet – creating the ‘black earth’ of the title, it’s small wonder that this is a work of seething fury edged with self-loathing and guilt.

‘(No) Shelter’ hammers out an industrial metal trudge reminiscent of Godflesh and perhaps even hints at early Pitchshifter, the mechanised drum explosions slicing through a wall of low-end grind that’s countered by tripwire guitars with some attacking treble. From the relentless, rhythm-driven maelstrom, vocals howl pure blackened nihilism. It’s a punishing eight and a half minutes and a brutal way to open an album.

‘Feral Ground’ plunges deeper into doomy drone in the opening bars before a pulsating throb of battering ram percussion and churning guitars and bass blended into a thick wall of sonic clay. It’s all about the chunky chop ‘n’ thud, stuttering, stop/start riffs, the trudging grind. One can trace a lineage of brutally nihilistic music which achieves absolute catharsis by simply bludgeoning the listener with brute force, and which possesses a tangible physicality from Swans’ initial phase, through Godflesh and Pitchshifter via Earth to Sunn O))). It’s within this context that Process Of Guilt introduce elements of Neurosis’ gnarly organic enormity to the slow pounding fury of their precursors.

On ‘Servant’, the guitars shriek in tortured anguish, the notes bent out of shape into howls of feedback while the rhythm section pounds on, hard. The twelve-minute title track is a relentless succession of sledgehammer blows, tearing guitar chords and straining feedback, and provides the album with a towering centrepiece.

The fifth and final track, ‘Hoax’ is a trudging dirge of a tune, nihilistic fury distilled and dragged to around 60BPM.

Black Earth is bleak, and it’s heavy, and it feels like the end of days.

AAA

Black Earth Cover

I’m Not From London Records

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s a fucking miracle Arrows of Love are still here, let alone that they’ve managed to nail a second album. But then, to watch them play live, it often seems like a fucking miracle that they can make it to the end of a set. Everything about Arrows of Love, from day one, had had an air of precarity, teetering on the brink of implosion. Every song carries that same sense of danger. It’s their wild volatility that sets them as one of the most exciting bands of the last decade, but ultimately, it’s the songs that matter. They’ve always had songs: sprawling, messy, noisy, fucked up and perversely challenging songs, underpinned with some lean grooves.

Product has been a long time in coming and the line-up on this, their second album, is quite different from the one which recorded their debut. In the period between the delivery of aforementioned debut the nihilism-in-a-nutshell noisefest that was Everything’s Fucked (May 2014) Arrows of Love have evolved, and perhaps some of it’s a natural progression and some of its… not so much an increasing maturity as a refocusing of energy, and some if it’s a result of the personnel changes. One obvious shift is the absence of shared vocals: Lyndsey Critchley’s departure has certainly altered the dynamic of the band in that sense (bassist Nuha Ruby Ra’s vocal contributions are a lot less prominent, and she only leads on one track, the surprisingly sultry and almost tender ‘Come With Me’), and Product is a lot less direct and attacking than its overtly grunge-orientated predecessor.

That doesn’t mean that Product is any less confrontational or antagonistic, and the nihilism which drove Everything’s Fucked is apparent in the subtitle ‘Your Soundtrack To The Impending Societal Collapse.’ Moreover, the use of the definite article shows an absolute confidence in what lies ahead – Arrows of Love are certain we’re past the tipping point and freewheeling toward the end of the world as we know it. Product is certainly a darker, more claustrophobic affair than its predecessor, and finds Arrows exploring wider, deeper territory in the process.

‘Signal’ is dark, dense, disturbing, and desperate, and is heavily hung with a curtain of goth which drapes over the violent (post)punk energy. ‘Did you ever see this coming?’ Nemah challenges through a fuzz of distortion ‘Let the lunatics run the asylum,’ he spits, and we know that this isn’t the future he’s predicting, but a plain observation on the present. The tension builds into a squalling racket and the vocals reach fever pitch as the track reaches its explosive climax.

It feels like an eternity since ‘Predictable’ first aired on-line – and while the band articulate their ennui at the daily shit that is life in the 21st century, as a musical work it’s anything but predictable. The vocals transition from drawling boredom in the verse to screaming mania in the chorus, while the guitars lurch and swerve every which way.

Marking a change of pace and direction, ‘Desire’ is dark, brooding, stripped back, introspective. At near the six-minute mark, it’s a seething mess of emotions: Arrows of Love are a band who’ve always emanated a gritty sexuality, but this channels it in a very different way, and it’s not comfortable or snuggly.

‘Tidal’ is perhaps the most overtly ‘art-rock’ song on the album, as well as being the most classically ‘grunge’ composition, with its quiet / loud verse / chorus juxtaposition. At the same time it encapsulates the dual character of Product, and album that swings – quite effortlessly, and thus with maximum impact – between classic post-punk trappings and raging noise, with exploratory experimentalism informing the process.

‘Beast’, which premiered some months ago now, is a swampy, squalid mess of seething abrasion a throbbing mess of bass that sonically calls to mid Melvins in places but ultimately stands as the soundtrack to a riot. The shrieking ‘Toad’ is equally uncompromising, and ‘The Parts That Make the (W)hole’ comes on like a hybrid of The Fall, Shellac and The Cooper Temple Clause. ‘Restless Feeling’ captures the dark, dirgy doom of Swans circa 1984 and makes for one hell of a low ending to the album: if anything, it’s the sound of society after the collapse as its low-end swell builds to an all-consuming tsunami of noise.

Product bridges the gap between Bauhaus and Nirvana, but ultimately, any comparisons are but signposts to an album which is unique in its standing. Product avoids pretence and overblown portentousness: it doesn’t make lofty statement about the future, but instead stands as a painfully intense document of the present. If any album of the last five years articulates the dizzying, anxietised state of contemporary life, it’s Product.

AAA

AOL - Product

Helen Scarsdale Agency – HMS039

Christopher Nosnibor

We live in a world of noise. We live in a decaying, post-industrial world. The so-called developing world is on an inexorable trajectory toward the same calamitous end, a world of tertiary industry and a level of noise – literal and metaphorical – which the framework of postmodern hinted at and but failed to fully appreciate the totality of its eventuality. To contextualise Natural Incapacity requires a certain grounding in postmodernism and the idea of a society defined by information overload. But, to reframe my comment on the shortcomings of postmodern theory, it essentially fails to account for the impact of the culture on those who find themselves existing in that culture. What have we done in making such technological leaps with so little consideration for the psychological consequences? Has the human mind evolved at a pace correspondent with the technologies we’ve made? What does the infinite noise actually sound like in the middle of that blizzard of information?

Natural Incapacity is an immense work, with a total running time of some two and a quarter hours across its two discs. Housed in a hand-rusted cover produced by Jim Haynes, this is serious art. The album soundtracks not the external noise so much as it does perhaps the internal noise, and the experience of the collapse of everything into an amorphous cyclone of everything happening all at once. The human brain simply isn’t built for the world in which we find ourselves. There’s so much talk of ‘white noise,’ but ultimately, total overload is an entirely different kind of noise, an explosive noise, simultaneously conveyed as the sound of collapse, of panic, anguish, and screaming despair.

Disc one is the shorter of the two, with has a running time of an hour and two minutes. A dark, quiet rumble soon breaks into a dense, harsh wall of sound. Tidal waves crash and planets explode in slow-motion, creating layer upon layer of textured noise that pounds the senses relentlessly. This is heavy, brutal stuff. The violent turbulence is punishing, effecting a psychological disturbance. The moments of calm are but brief and heavy with tension, the suspense of how and when the next wave of noise will erupt. And erupt it invariably does, tearing the fabric of the atmosphere, an annihilative volume of atomic force.

There’s no obvious shift moving onto disc two, but the effect of so much oppressively dense, murky and irredeemably inhospitable noise is cumulative. As the time crawls on, one senses the walls slowly moving closer, the light and oxygen gradually being pushed from the room and the life slipping from one’s soul.

Hums and whirs offer cold comfort in this funnelling fermentation of foul decay as factories collapse in slow-motion under the weight of so-called progress. The absence of vocals renders this even more disturbing, in that there are no obvious signs of human life to be discerned in the churning melee. As such, were reminded of our ultimate obsolescence, and there can be no bleaker prospect than that. Natural Incapacity is nihilistic in the absolute, a soundtrack to the end of time.

 

Relay for Death - Natural Incapacity