Found out about Massive Attack's new release, a 3 song EP called Eutopia accompanied by 3 videos, via a tweet by Mario Klingemann, the author of the computer generated animations in the videos. I'll talk about Mario after hearing the songs, but for now just know that the visuals are intense.
But the content is even more intense. And I mean politically charged as fuck. If you know MA, you expect them to make art about today, and you can only wish they would make it more often. But what we have here is that the year is 2020 and the world has upped the game, so MA raised the bar as well.
These are 3 songs dominated by spoken word, interesting human beings addressing real urgent issues like inequality, debt, precarity, automation, extinction, and neo-fascist populism, pretty much head on.
In Massive Attack's own words:
The spirit of this EP, its elements and ideas have nothing to do with naïve notions of an ideal, perfect world, and everything to do with the urgent & practical need to build something better. In this sense, Eutopia is the opposite of spelling mistake.
Massive Attack x Algiers
Warning: if you suffer from hypersensitivy to flashing lights, or just not in the mood for procedural skulls deforming and reforming endlessly, don't watch this. Just listen. Or save for later.
Tune in to the voice of Christiana Figueres, this former executive secretary of the united nations framework convention on climate - pause to catch breath and sarcastically appreciate the title. The speech addresses what needs to be done. The urgency of doing it now. I am in! Let's fix the food chain. Let's align citizens, governments, businesses. Wait.. Hum?
Some good old framework thoughts right there. I appreciate the direction: everyone working together, can't disagree with that. But why put People and people's own abstractions such as business and government in the same plane? Behind these abstract fantasies there is people. Companies are not living entities with special rights, so make the angry old man behind all the bullshit, yes the one with the obscene wealth, come back down and "work it out" with the rest of the people.
The social fabric of our world the health of democracies and the wellbeing of people can either be destroyed or made stronger by a crisis such as the one we are living
With that I can't disagree.
Massive Attack x Saul Williams
Second song. Tax havens head on. Countries must collect the taxes from these evavise dodgy multinational krakens. Speech by Gabriel Zucman, UC Berkley, professor of economics & inventor of the Wealth Tax policy.
I buy the socialism, fine. But what's with ALL the ALL CAPS, and WHY is EVERYTHING VISUALLY soooo OVERWHELMING? What's with this map ZOOMInG in and out and SPAWnING mountains and lakes, and I am STARtING to feel a tad sick. I have to close my eyes.
There. Very well done. Voiced by Saul Williams which I knew nothing about until 20 minutes ago. First thing I noticed was associated acts: Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails, The Mars Volta, Rick Rubin, The Kills. Also, poet, actor, rapper, keyboards, guitar, percussion. At this point, I am asking should I know this person?! and then check out Saul's Tiny Desk concert and - ooooosh, fire! - I wanna know more! But I get it, Saul has been singing about the whole BS head on and it is a tough business out there.
I'm one hour down this rabit hole, trying to write about Massive Attack's release and checking out all the crazy shit Saul has been doing. Check Saul Williams's twitter for the latest stuff.
Massive Attack x Young Fathers
This is the easiest of the 3 videos. Reminds me of a Bjork video. But then it stops being nice. The million faces are unnerving. Even more so the fact that they're generated by code. Well done Mario, astonishing. Unsettling. I can't deal with this and I just listen.
Another speech. Professor Guy Standing, from SOAS University of London, co-founder of of the Basic Income Earth Network. Professor Guy also has the best vocal qualities to nail the dark trip hop you'd expect, and together with Young Fathers contributes to a classic, automatic, Massive Attack hit.
I hope thousands, millions, watch this one. And think about it. That we all agree that everyone needs basic economic security and we need to act fast to rescue millions from homelessness and starvation. Maybe I don't believe it "could be clawed back from the wealthiest through the tax system". And again I wish for better words than National Capital Funds. So many NOOOOs in 3 words.
Mario Klingemann's messed up generative art
Back to the visuals. The author is Mario Klingemann, artist, coder, speaker, and a few Artificial Intelligence things I don't quite understand because it's level 9000. I've been following Mario for a while, checking out the mind-blowing digital art, generated at a frenetic pace because the human is teaching the machine how to generate the art. AI is a slippery topic, and humans have it totally out of order, in so many ways.
Mario's work is Art. And somehow the fact that this is probably the Art in 2020, and it is totally happenning right now, is even more distressing.
Block Warts pic.twitter.com/v5leTmFHiz— Mario Klingemann (@quasimondo) July 5, 2020