Saturday, November 26, 2011
Sound of Arrows Voyage. It begins. Into the Clouds. I have been pining for this album for a very long time and so when it begins with an only slightly altered Into the Clouds I turn slightly anxious. But of course this song is the dream. It is beautiful. It is gentle and technicolored and expansive. You might then wonder, oh, it is all downhill from here. It is not. I would imagine the Sound of Arrows support the Occupy people. But is this music not the antithesis of Occupy wherever? It is hopeful, it is ambitious, it is outward looking. Occupy wherever seems to be very conservative. Life as a static model, preserve my privileged position and inoculate me against my poor judgement. I made easy decisions. I was incurious. I am incapable of thinking for myself. Yes yes, these are all broad generalizations but I have driven past our local franchise several times in the past week and they seem a lethargic group in the main. There are four police cruisers that have them hemmed into a tiny portion of Civic Center Park. It is very quaint with their sleeping bags lined up along the sidewalk and their enervated spirits merging with the concrete. They have a website. I wonder if the designer is an actual occupier, or rather safely ensconced in an undisclosed location. Second track, next single Wonders, glorious, it's Fantasia re-imagined as a synthpop landscape, border-less, populated with the same mythical beasts and fairies that populate the lysergic fueled trips of those who want to indulge in all of the successes of capitalism while maintaining the dreary romance of believing that you are a dissident in your own country. It is all very authoritarian. There are surely a dozen Leni-wannabe's armed with digital video cameras documenting this momentous occasion. Third track, My Shadow, a bit more artful. Disinterested vocals, spare accompaniment until the chorus shines brightly. This is youth on parade. Do not assemble and collectively plead for your right to be inert. Start a business. Start an organization that has momentum enough to carry minds into fanciful lands and exercises. I am reading a biography of Rosa Luxemburg at the moment and to speak truthfully it is something closer to a hagiography but to be fair it was written when fascism was on the rise and communism seemed a lesser trial even with the bolshevik autocrats already on the march in Moscow. Not a single mention yet about the coercive tendencies of socialists. But she comes off as something of a scientist, trying to theorise everything about human existence and interaction into a compact set of laws to be interpreted and managed by a socialist elite, divorced entirely from human emotion and superstition. It is similar to What is to be Done minus the idea of events being driven from the top down by a professional political class. It comes off as absolutely absurd until you realize that all of these mad ideas have come to fruition. These occupy wherever dopes are pleading for technocrats to save them from their foolishness, the same as an inert Greek populace protests only to maintain the unmaintainable status quo. The current US administration is filled with people who want to manage a 15 trillion dollar economy without having any experience even in a micro sense. Magic is playing now and the video for this song includes children who awaken in a world depopulated with adults. It is where we exist currently. The idea of being an adult is terrifying to most people. The idea of being responsible for the decision you made to acquire a massive load of debt without any concrete logistical plan to retire it holistically is anathema to perpetual adolescents. My oldest brother ran up a considerable amount of credit card debt when he was a teen. My parents bailed him out. And then he ran up more. If you subsidise a behaviour you will guarantee more of it. Next track Ruins of Love, the long slow track, still dreamy, still ambitious, still wonderful. Will this take hold in these dreary times of austerity? Will life turn grey and uninspiring and only art will be composed of dreams and hopes and when you stare at a painting or into a soundscape will you feel these deep nostalgia for life as we once knew it. Rose Luxemburg was a genius, but she seemed artless, dour, too realistic except that she wasn't. She would look at events and miss the irrational components entirely. I also have recently finished The Instinct of the Herd and Wilfred Trotter is a contemporary of Rosa and he seemed to grasp events far more cogently. When individuals assemble and identify as groups they don't take on the nuanced characteristics of esoterica such as labor theories and economism but they acquire emotional arguments as cudgels and are carried along by the powerful instinct of the herd whether it was Germany as the predator or England as a mix of Predator and Prey partially paralyzed by the mistaken belief that they were indeed rational beings. Humans are not rational beings. How disheartening for occupy wherever to self identify as a terrifyingly insignificant minority as 152 million americans stop only just short of murder to secure a flat screen television. This is the instinct of the herd. Longest Ever Dream, a female voice, a lovely pop song, the next single? Sound of Arrows are from Sweden. They live under a false consensus. I claim it is false because I believe the most difficult thing to align in socialist societies is class interest. This should be the message of the proletariat, with Sound of Arrows in the background, do not listen to your counselors and parents attend a local university and demand a more rigorous curriculum instead of a new student activity center. I've mentioned this before but I interview prospective employees for my company and while I don't work for a prestigious or important firm I am still amazed to read the applications of college graduates. The inability to articulate anything meaningful is a dreadful disgrace and scourge visited upon the youth of today. Listen to an Occupy Denver protester, they haven't read Rosa Luxemburg or Herbert Marcuse or even Marx bur they are "marxist" because it is fashionable and they have tee shirts to smartly proclaim their allegiance to the tribe. It is romantic to live in opposition to the status quo. But they have won, marxism is on the dais and they can't seem to recognize their success. Conquest, a bit of heart worn drama, a bit of Wham!? Less Pet Shop Boys but more gay discotheque even. What has this entry to do with Sound of Arrows, nothing at all. But are you all that interested in Sound of Arrows? Probably not. You should be. They've taken ages to record this album and unlike Pas/Cal and their "let us have done with it, for now at last" it is wonderful. But then they are youth, i have said this twice. I apologize. Pas/Cal's sun had set long before and it is youth that we treasure above all else. Nova, another single, they aren't innovative but do not disguise a distate for non-innovation for the same concerning ambition. This is an album filled with grand statements, a treatise for escapists, the same as Rosa Luxemburg. Because as she was describing a world that did not exist and that could never exist so too have Sound of Arrows re-imagined our own calamitous existence. The music carries you above the dreary hollowed out reality of life as we live it and engenders a dream of something greater. It might still be a collectivist dream but slowly pop music will evolve to a more individualistic manifesto, celebrate as a group, come together and spread joy(I was at a christmas light ceremony yesterday with hundreds and it was lovely) but when you fall away from the bosom of the group do not long to re-enter it as a means of protection from the cold, venture bravely out into the abyss and succeed on your own terms. I say this as someone without a single measurable success. I know. I wait for my Bernstein-ian dismemberment. Now to There is Still Hope an epic seeming dreamy ballad that introduces itself as the summation, the final track contender but is in fact the second to last track. Washes of synths layered upon each other, tender anesthetized riffs rising falling and finally his tender voice exhorting love to will out, hope to capture the moment. It is an inspiring beginning, it is almost disarmingly earnest. I would hope that they are sincere, that these tracks are the true evocation of their hearts. In the age of irony or manipulation it would be lovely if someone who truly meant it and conveyed it could stand alongside the John Mayer's of the world as a counterpoint to unfeeling cynicism. Socialism is not feeling. Capitalism, the infusion of a life filled with risk and unlimited reward is the emotional choice. Choosing to live unhindered by the reality of tumult is not living at all. The last a tender instrumental, time to reflect, time to reassess, the world is about to end, feel melancholia and joy and retreat to the things that are important, life, love, happiness, noen of these things can be delivered by your fearless technocrats.