Sunday, March 19, 2017

Post Truth


Nearly two months after the inauguration, it has become clear that the presidential regime is clueless, shameless, and headed by an individual almost uniquely unsuited to the role. We are all wandering around in a daze, expecting someone to step in and put a stop to this at any moment, and, meanwhile, the prejudices about Americans that flourished under the Bush administration have returned tenfold.

It's a place of tremendous contradiction, the great experiment, founded on the highest ideals of freedom and the institution of slavery, a constant and restless source of creative energy and the only Western nation that continues the barbaric practice of capital punishment, the cradle of the best and of the worst, as Leonard Cohen sings in Democracy.

I listened to this song in my Pittsburgh apartment the night Obama was elected in 2008, and I listened to it again the night Trump was elected in 2016. It was fit for both occasions because it so perfectly captures those contradictions, celebrating the energy and spiritual thirst of the American people while pointing wryly to their hypocrisies and self-delusions. He does this most of all in the refrain: to the land that exalts democracy as its founding principal and the stake in the moral high ground, Cohen responds "democracy is coming." In both and good bad times this is an affirmation, and something we need in our post-truth world.

A consequence of having a pathological liar in the White House is it drives the opposition to an exaltation of the "fact" as the crucial, and then maybe the only relevant, unit in political discourse. This is understandable and perhaps even necessary, but nevertheless it leaves an important gap in any politics of resistance. As David Hulme observed, one cannot derive an ought from an is. In cleaving to facts, one runs the risk of forgetting the world one fights for -- not just the one we are in danger of losing, but an even better one.

Dave Dobbyn's Don't Hold Your Breath describes this better world, where African Hunger, the Palestine-Israel conflict, and other troubles have been resolved. The track closes 1993's Lament for the Numb, a jagged, bitter album Dobbyn recorded in LA, and which the record company described as "unreleasable." Presumably, they were looking for another "Slice of Heaven." True to the tone of the album, Don't Hold Your Breath is no utopia. Instead, it is freighted with cynicism, the chorus a counterpoint in the voice of a female interlocutor, pleading "don't fool me now, I believe every word that you said." In the end, Dobbyn turns on his lover, spiting her with a fantasy of growing old together -- just like the troubles of the world aren't over, this future won't occur. Dobbyn's cynicism and cruelty aside, this song is a reminder that in order to achieve a better world we have to be able to describe it, and that can't be done only with facts.


 I don’t much like to mix politics with music – for me it’s the wrong medium for dealing with the complex trade-offs of competing interests and values that the political process represents. But I do like music that expresses the simple emotion of revulsion at inauthenticity, such as this great song by Savages, No Face. It is about an inauthentic partner, but could equally be about the inherent falseness of politicians, who need to be chameleonic in order to appeal to as many people as possible.

I was going to continue the theme of post-punk with Ought – Gemini, but it was not available on the lossless streaming service we were using to make full use of David’s extraordinary hi-fi system. So on the spur of the moment I chose Of Montreal – The Past Is a Grotesque Animal, which I could probably connect to the theme if I tried hard enough, but I’m not going to on this occasion. It’s just an absolute ripper of a song that I yearned to hear at maximum volume.


 What a fantastic experience we were fortunate enough to be part of in having Music Club hosted in David's purposely built and designed audio mecca!

Dee Snider - "We're Not Gonna Take It" (emotional stripped down 2016 version!)

This track, originally written by Snider and performed by his band Twisted Sister from 1894's Stay Hungry, was rerecorded and stripped back to piano and vocals for Dee's 2016 solo album We Are the Ones. The pipes on this man are as splendid as ever, and the emotion and passion he draws out of this new version is as heartfelt and inspiring as it was more than 20 years ago. I'm not sure the whole album, or much of what he's done this last couple of decades is anything but patchy, but this does demonstrate how great he can be, and how well written that song always has been.

The link to the theme is obvious; it now feels like there are new marches and movements rising up every day to remind the establishment that it's the people who they're supposed to be working for and representing.

Carcass - "Don't Believe a Word"

I must say, hearing Carcass on this sound set-up was a blast! I described this track as a bit of a toe-tapper. Obviously everything is relative, right?!? Okay, so it's no Cotten-Eyed Joe, but giving this an open-minded blast should leaving you remembering the chorus and some tasty lines like:

"Living memory can easily be erased,
The pen is mightier than the sword,
yet with no blade"

This track is from the UK band's last album before a lengthy breakup and return 17 years later, 1996's Swansong. It's considered by many early fans as a sell-out given that it eschewed their fathers-of-grindcore roots, instead offering up a healthy dose of melodic death metal.

Again the link to the theme is pretty straight forward - misquotations, out of context and lies!


It's difficult not to conflate post-truth with politics. It comes as no surprise that inflated egos, psychopathic tendencies combine with a myopic world view to produce the key traits of our glorious leaders. I selected the following two ditties to navigate the uncharted waters that lap against the shores of verisimilitude. They're great, really really great...

Mr Henry Rollins, Liar

Henry needs no introduction. He's a polymath of the post punk generation. He's honest in approach, attitude and language, He's so painfully forthright, that stating facts can break bones. And, woe betide any poor wretch that leads him up the garden path and tries to pull a fast one. In this here song, he paints the picture of a self obsessed, narcissistic sadist that enjoys playing to peoples own egos to slowly destroy them. We all want to believe what we want to believe. We enjoy confirmation bias when it suits us. We all succumb to our own echo chambers and reflections. That is when we are at our weakest. The media, your boss, your favorite brands, the president, your girlfriend - they all lie to you. Suckers!


Depeche Mode, Policy of Truth

Basildon is the cultural cradle of synth pop. From here, the quiff conquered the charts one nonchalant flick at a time. Each stab of the keys was one deeper slip of the blade between the shoulders of rock and roll. Here, the drum machine beat a synthetic rhythm to help the downtrodden transcended the dead end class divide. Never again, is what you swore, the time before.


Initially I thought the theme was music tracks involving/invoking fear, but upon some surface consultation with Deb and Carl adjusted thought to "truth/fact""......I've settled for one for each:

1. Fear
Apocalyptica: Hall of the Mountain King - instrumental version please
as ripped straight from their website bio.....Formed in 1993, Finnish orchestral rock band Apocalyptica has released six studio albums featuring numerous cello-based instrumentals along with some vocal-based songs".  The song Hall of the Mountain King in it's multiple iterations has been used in endless movies including classic horror.

Fear Factory's - Powershifter and Clint Mansell, Konos Quartet - Lux Aeterna were my other contenders.

2. Truth/Fact
Violent Femmes: Ugly
just to break my seemingly orchestral tendencies....some good old Violent Femmes

Donald Trump is a complete "tit" in my books, although tit may be too kind, I had fun reminiscing with Violent Femmes, will assume everyone knows who these dudes are.  Ugly is a direct factual reflection of Donald Trump, not to be entirely shallow ugly doesn't just sum up his physicality but also his personality and attitude.  It was tough to pick just one track, lyrics from several other Femmes tracks also were contenders, "Crazy", "I Could Be Anything", "Freak Magnet" and so on, but in the end I thought Ugly was nice and direct/on point!


1) First track is from the 1981 album 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts', a collaboration between Brian Eno and David Byrne. I'd like to think we have progressed as a society over the years however it's albums and songs like this that go to show many of the fears and concerns we harbour have been recognised as issues and raised many times in the past. In fact the first release of this album had a song on it called 'Qu'ran' which had samples of readings from Islam's holy book... The Islamic Council of Great Britain asked that it be removed from the album which Eno and Byrne did for subsequent pressings... they decided it was the right thing to do. My pick is the track 'America is Waiting' sampled from a radio talkshow host... so have they got the message now?

2)  Second track is from a group called Feindflug who hail from Chemnitz... as befits a group based in the former East Germany they have a fairly gritty and industrial percussion sound. They also, like Eno and Byrne, tend to use samples of great (and not so great) German leaders. Unfortunately they have been linked to Neo-Nazi groups in the past by virtue of having their first album pressed and distributed by a right wing organisation. They refute this connection and point to their motto, 'Use your brain and think about it'. This track is from 'Vierte Version' (Fourth Version) and is called 'Grössenwahn' (Grand Delusion)... I'll let you guess who the mid 20th century fruit loop they sampled was. The only other thing I'll say about it is that the last line in the sample loosely translates as 'I have been right and I will be right for the future too!'... so how's that working for ya!


Darcy James Argue: 
Album: Real Enemies
Track : You Are Here

Inline image 1

This review and interview (link below and well worth reading) caught my eye after I had sent out the 'post truth' Music Club challenge and it was perhaps further evidence that my communications are being monitored by deep state operatives who have identified me as a threat to the vested interests that continue to control all aspects of our lives. Time for a new double thickness tin-foil hat methinks. From the NPR article;

 Their concept was both wildly ambitious and unexpectedly timely, revolving around the history and perpetuity of conspiratorial thought in American life.
That field of study encompasses an extraordinary swath of 20th and 21st-century politics and culture, including McCarthyism and the Red Scare of the 1950s; the moon landing and its doubters, a tenacious constituency; Reaganism and the Iran-Contra affair of the '80s; even the birther movement that serves as a rickety bridge from the Obama era into the current presidential administration
It is all very familiar stuff and ultra relevant to the dangerous times we live in today.

My favorite track is 

The text is drawn from a 1964 essay by Richard Hofstadter "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" and I have include an extract which is used in this piece below;

The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms—he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point.......the paranoid is a militant leader. He does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised, in the manner of the working politician. Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish. Since the enemy is thought of as being totally evil and totally unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated....This demand for total triumph leads to the formulation of hopelessly unrealistic goals, and since these goals are not even remotely attainable, failure constantly heightens the paranoid’s sense of frustration. Even partial success leaves him with the same feeling of powerlessness with which he began, and this in turn only strengthens his awareness of the vast and terrifying quality of the enemy he opposes.....

Presumably James is monitored even more closely and to the extent that his music is not available on either Tidal or Spotify at the time I saw the interview. I had to order the physical media (I know!) or CD which is an artifact familiar to those of you of a certain age.

Sadly it didn't arrive until the day of our soiree so I had not yet had a chance to fully familiarize myself with it. OK, actually I had only managed to play the first couple of tracks. I have since had it on an unsettling high rotation in my car. 

James Darcy Argue