Age of Truth by LunacyRelease date: November 22, 2019
Label: Third Coming Records
“We are all chimeras, theorised and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs.” The Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway, 1985.
Knowingly or not, we all seem to have acquired additional elements of technology that we now include in our daily lives. Some of us wear glasses. Others, hearing aids. Most walk around with headphones on or earbuds in. There are those with prosthetic limbs, pacemakers, and digital tattoos. It’s not just human beings that are being adapted – there was a recent story about cows in Russia having VR headsets loaded with calming images leashed onto skulls in order to boost their milk production. There may well be space for debate on quite how much these appendages make us cyber organisms but, whilst we continue to adorn ourselves with technical advancements, there is likely to be art created that reflects this.
Now, you’re probably wondering, what the Dickens has this all got to do with Lunacy’s latest record, Age of Truth? Quite a lot, it turns out. Whilst the record’s name and track titles seem to speak of political and social issues – ‘Fall of Arms’, ‘Common Ground’, etc – the music itself seems more aligned with the physical and corporeal. Its rampant rhythms bring to mind contorting bodies, flexing muscles, and pumped fluids. Its beats are rigid and unrelenting, military (perhaps even authoritarian) in its desire for control whilst the soundscapes that emerge and spread out over the top like sprawling vines are far messier. They are less programmed, more alive. The cyborg blend of body and machine.
‘Call of Signals’, for example, is lit up with electrical fizzing and pistons crashing. The vocals are ghosted out in a manner reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins. Is it the removal of humanity? Or is humanity trying to squirm back in? Squint to see the human within. A playground mirror of late capitalism’s ideal. Man as drone. Worker. No less. No more. A fleshy cog in a burning machine. Only snatched glimpses of sorrowful eyes tell a different tale. Keep them subdued. They’ll be more productive.
Album opener – ‘Sullen’ – is a mesh of Terminator synths and bludgeoning kicks. It’s a maximalist assault. A feral HEALTH. Or Philadelphia noise-gazers Nothing purging on a Godflesh diet. It even recalls the sensory overload and emotive distortion of Salem. All in all, it’s a good old fashioned pummelling. It’s music that straddles the line between ecstasy and anguish, music that Bataille would have fought and fucked to.
This is followed by the sound of a heartbeat heard from inside a main artery, given a mechanical bent. Robotic. Amorphous. Layering sweet sounding electronic lines atop it like strapping a nervous system to a metallic skeleton, on goes the veins, then muscles and skin. It’s a terrifying representation of humankind. The language is buried deep along with that beating heart. Perhaps it’s more Robocop than Terminator with its flashes of humanity buried beneath the industrial veneer.
Whilst there is a gleam of technology encasing all of this, at the centre of it lies undeniable human needs and desires. There is a sadness haunting every sound. An oppressive atmosphere that regrets its need to reflect reality. One little event could undo everything. This is a cause for concern. But, by the same logic, one small action could solve so much. Is that then a cause for celebration?
The aforementioned ‘Fall of Arms’ reinforces these urges quite clearly. Utilising the aesthetics of a Berlin nightclub, where mobile phone cameras are rendered useless by blotting stickers, it combines the dirt of post punk with a flickering and fizzle-popping neon bulb. Pulsing pads like a muted siren are smothered by trembling drums and thick digital swirls. This is laced with nihilism and a taste for strobed prurience. Clasping, clawing, and thrusting. Strangers hands. Probing tongues. An anonymous tryst.
Lunacy seem to use instruments of torture within their production. The snap of a cat o’nine tails filling in for a hi-hat. High heels grinding down into soft shoulder meat creating sonorous bass drones. This is music conducted in the shadows, on the periphery and out of sight. Everything throbs.
In short, Age of Truth is like entering a rabid storm cloud. Electrical forked lightning slashing across in every direction. Beneath you, great sheets of rain empty downwards, forming the world’s highest waterfall and you are there, lost within it, no longer able to discern how the hell you are supposed to get out. In this respect the whole record is an apt metaphor for the feeling of impotent malaise that seems to have currently been thrust upon our sick and stifled societies.