Skip to main content
Loading...

Featured Post

Amazon's Black Friday Sale Begins: See What's On Offer

Amazon's Black Friday Sale is finally here. Here are some of the best deals on now.
We've had our fingers poised over our keyboards long enough in anticipation of Amazon's Black Friday Sale, which went live at midnight and will last until 25 November.

Charlie Looker - Simple Answers Music Album Reviews

Charlie Looker - Simple Answers Music Album Reviews
The Psalm Zero frontman and Zs alum reckons with the rise of fascism—and his internal struggle against its insidious appeal—on a debut solo album of unusually confrontational modern classical music.

Six years ago, New York-based multi-instrumentalist Charlie Looker began composing his debut solo record, Simple Answers, as a meditation on the rise of fascism in the West. Although its genesis (but not its recording, a process facilitated by a Kickstarter campaign last year) predates the current presidential administration, and critics can easily overstate that regime’s influence on individual works of art, there’s no divorcing the album from where America is at now. “When the wound is fresh and open, bad ideas find their way in,” Looker chants on closing track “Puppet.” “And when our state is broke and trembling, we want answers—simple answers.” But in 2018, our wounds aren’t fresh anymore, the answers are often far from simple, and the distance between what we crave and what we have makes Simple Answers a powerful piece of modern classical music.

Informed in parts by the sounds of Looker’s industrial metal band, Psalm Zero, the album is inspired by the work of French philosopher and writer Julia Kristeva, as well as late comedian Patrice O’Neal. Kristeva speaks of fascism as an internal energy to be sublimated rather than an external force that can be defeated, and Looker sees those ideas mirrored in O’Neal’s standup, which is sampled on the crucial track “Fascist Moments”: “The promise of me being better than you makes my fucking whole life,” the comedian says. “I made a decision to be quote-unquote a good guy. My natural instincts stop.” The sentences are deliberately taken out of context, turning humor into horror. Through O’Neal, Looker is doing more than just passively observing the seductive power “might makes right” politics have over the Proud Boys who co-opted Looker’s beloved Fred Perry polos—he’s acknowledging his own susceptibility to their appeal.

There’s plenty of bombast to mirror such temptation on the album. Many of Looker’s roaring compositions could soundtrack marches if ripped from their context. “What Dawn Is This? (Overture)” is an ominous choral passage that foreshadows the overarching mood of Answers, if not to the mess of sounds that follow the string-heavy prelude. Kelly Moran, a New York pianist who also performed on Oneohtrix Point Never’s Age Of, loops with dexterity throughout “Golden Flesh.” Her performance is blissful yet tense, keeping Looker on his toes.

These sweeping gestures don’t ultimately resonate as celebrations of fascism; they demonstrate the dangers lurking behind its allure. Psalm Zero’s drum machines and electronics disrupt the majestic swagger of Answers, weighing down and gleefully perverting the music, as though Looker is spitting in the face of people who confuse their own flailing mediocrity with “the West is best” heroics. (As he once said, “I hate racism, and I love classical music.”) “Ritual Fire” is the closest the album gets to a Psalm Zero track, throbbing with bass undercurrents, pounding bass drum, and an anxious string climax that soundtracks Looker’s scream: “Gas my lungs to hell, gas my lungs to hell!” It’s a dark reference to his Jewish heritage couched in a deliberate provocation.

Although it rarely sounds this confrontational, the modern classical form allows Looker to achieve a visceral sound without any hulking guitars. “Puppet” opens with staccato horns over bumping drum machine, then homes in on Looker’s tender voice, which has long been the core of his projects. As the piece continues, the repetitive sing-song of his voice, the loosening of the drum-machine beats, and the rising strings all coalesce in a wave of helplessness. This is not an admission of defeat—it’s a realistic acknowledgment that, for all the introspection Answers encourages, the internal and external battles with fascism rage on.

Looker, whose work in Extra Life, Zs, and Seaven Teares has made him a fixture of avant-garde music, introduced himself to a metal audience with Psalm Zero. Although Simple Answers is not a metal record, it’s in conversation with the genre’s foundational themes. Metal celebrates power and dominance through brute, masculine force. This energy is not inherently negative—inspiration to take control of your own life can be a good thing—but it can be toxic in the wrong hands. (There may even be some pointed critique of this strain of metal in the electronics on “Fascist Moments,” which resemble those on Burzum’s ambient piece “Rundtgåing av den transcendentale egenhetens støtte.”) Looker contemplates the fascism lying dormant within him and rejects it, defying genre borders by bringing elements from pop and New York’s longstanding experimental traditions to the ostensibly stodgy world of classical. His honesty is a more effective weapon in the war we’re all fighting than moral grandstanding could ever be.

View the original article here

Comments

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Loading...

Popular posts from this blog

Amazon Echo Plus (Second-Gen) Review

The second-gen Amazon Echo Plus is shorter, louder and better-looking than ever. What's not to like? Here's our review.
Should I Buy The Amazon Echo Plus (2nd-gen)?
The new Echo Plus offers a radical redesign compared to the original, ditching the plastic body for a fabric mesh housing that helps the speaker blend into the home environment. It’s not only better-looking either, as a larger speaker and tweeter provide improved audio quality and Dolby Play 360 audio support helps fills the room with music. What’s not to like?

Xiaomi Mi Band 2 Review: The Best Cheap Fitness Tracker Money Can Buy

The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is the best cheap fitness tracker we’ve seen. Read our Mi Band 2 review to find out what’s new in this excellent-value budget activity tracker.
Should I Buy The Xiaomi Mi Band 2?
With a new OLED screen the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 offers better value than ever. We’d like to see better integration with third-party apps, but at this price the Mi Band 2 is impossible to fault.

Xiaomi Mi Band 1S Pulse Best-Value Activity Tracker Review

You will not find an activity tracker that offers better value than Xiaomi's Mi Band Pulse. We put the upgraded Mi Band to the test in our Xiaomi Mi Band 1S review.
Should I Buy The Xiaomi Mi Band 1S Pulse?
With a tougher band addressing our issues with the original, and a new heart-rate sensor bringing it into line with rival activity trackers, you quite simply won't find a better-value fitness band than the Xiaomi Mi Band 1S Pulse. It still falls down on social interaction, apps and its use of a proprietary charging cable, but given the price we can accept these shortcomings.

Does Amazon's New FireTV Stick 4K Do It All

HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos... Yup!
It seems like every year a new format comes along to make all our "old" gear obsolete. For audio video afficionados, those latest formats include Dolby Atmos immersive sound, and three different flavors of High Dynamic Range for enhanced picture quality. The three HDR flavors currently on the market include HDR 10 (the most common), HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. Dolby Vision and HDR10+ promise better picture quality than standard HDR 10 by using something called "dynamic meta data." Basically they're able to shift around the required storage bits on a scene-by-scene basis to get the best dynamic range out of movies and TV shows that are encoded in the format.

Apple MacBook Air 2018 vs Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 Review

The MacBook Air has seen a major redesign, but how does it compare to the excellent Surface Laptop 2? We find out and help you choose which one to buy.
Should I Buy The MacBook Air (2018) Or Microsoft Surface Laptop 2?
These two laptops offer plenty of features and aesthetics that make them desirable. If you’re a Windows fan then buy the Surface, otherwise the new MacBook Air is a solid workhorse.

Like Fan Page