Sunday, June 6, 2021

Danceable Dystopias

Longtime readers of mine will know that I am a fan of electronic/industrial musician Gary Numan ever since I heard his smash international hit Cars on the radio back in 1980, when I was a pup...  My adult take on Gary's oeuvre is that he was one of the first electronic musicians to come from the pop/rock scene rather than, say Florian Schneider of Kraftwerk, who came from a classical/jazz background.  Numan came up with the punk scene, and went electronic after a start as a more conventional rock-and-roller.  Gary Numan was inspired by dystopic science fiction works, releasing the album Replicas, which was based on a planned SF novel in the vein of a Philip K. Dick or Jack Williamson novel.  Replicas is in the same vein as the films Blade Runner or The Terminator, a postmodern horror tale of a slo-mo robot apocalypse.  Even Cars, a danceable uptempo electropop song, was about urban paranoia- Gary wasn't having fun fun fun, he was locking the doors to feel safe.

Well, Gary is back again, decades later, with another apocalyptic work, but this one in a more Ballardian vein.  His new album, Intruder, is based on the Gaia hypothesis.  Joking that he stole the idea from his eleven year old daughter, who wrote a poem from the standpoint of an Earth saddened by the human population, Mr Numan penned an album about an Earth engaged in confrontation with its wayward apex species.  Eerily, the pandemic hit while he was writing this album, lending a creepy topicality to the material.

I had the good luck to hear an interview with Mr Numan on a local college radio station, with local DJ and Renaissance man Evan Toth having a spirited conversation with the music legend.  The interview also appears on Mr Toth's podcast.  In the interview, Gary talks about the new album, about his fascination with Middle Eastern music, the phenomenon of being inspired by younger musicians who took inspiration from him, and the general dystopic themes he covered throughout his career.  It's a great interview, and Gary Numan is very charming and funny for a doomsday prophet.

Here is a video of Gary Numan performing the title track of the new album back in 2019:



Once again, the man has delivered a particularly danceable dystopia, doomsday even.

ADDENDUM: I'd be remiss if I didn't single out the best line in the interview-  after noting the rollout of robotic police 'dogs', Evan Toth quipped, "In five years, we'll all be living in a Gary Numan song."

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