We are living the future and the future bites!
I’ve been a fan of Porcupine Tree and specifically the songwriting of founding member and solo artist Steven Wilson. While Porcupine Tree has been inactive for a little while Steven Wilson continues to be a forceful songwriter involved in many group and solo projects. His latest solo project it titled THE FUTURE BITES. It was released January 2021. This album is a “must listen”. While I definitely have my favorites there really is not a bad song on the set. The entire album tracklist includes “Unself”, “Self”, “King Ghost”, “12 Things I Forgot”, Eminent Sleaze”, “Man Of The People”, “Personal Shopper”, “Follower”, and finally, “Count Of Unease”.
I’d like to feature a couple of my favorite tracks here today. I hope everyone can view them. While images are powerful in the videos I present here please pay attention to the lyrics – they are amazing and have a razor sharpness that is on target. This is music perfectly geared for our time.
This first video is for the song PERSONAL SHOPPER which analyzes our consumer culture. The images are not always pretty but they are a bang-on criticism of consumerism. What will you give (or give up) to get the latest thing, or even anything, you might “want”. I’ve long been fascinated by consumerism, buying power, user friendliness and the link to a wasting disease of Tuberculosis. A disease that used to be called Consumption. We are succumbing to consumption by our own hands not by some disease. We are the disease and the cause of our dis-ease. It is perhaps also appropriate that in the time of Covid our human materialist consumption is matched by an actual disease that is selectively killing off (or consuming) humanity. We’ve sacrificed what we need for what we want. And there is always a price to pay.
On YouTube Steven Wilson describes this song thus:
“MAN OF THE PEOPLE is about the person who stands behind the disgraced politician, the religious leader that’s been caught in a sex scandal. The wife, the girlfriend, the husband, the partner, whoever is the family, the children—the people that stand behind these figures that are disgraceful. The collateral damage. I pity these people sometimes.” – SW
That quote is amazing but I would like to add that all too often the people who “stand behind” these public figures that are “disgraceful” are often the enablers and supporters – which I suspect is why he only pities them “sometimes”.
SELF is both a smart song and amazing video. A continuous morphing of faces and identities. How many of the faces can you name? Lyrically the song speaks to our perceptions of self and how they have become a poison. A poison that I think has been created by the media. The perceptions of self spoken about in the song are about the narcissism and self-obsession that are portrayed and betrayed constantly in the media. And with the typhoon or hurricane, that is over-whelming media coverage, self has been dissected down to the microscopic level. Humility is dead. Only false humility dares show its face. “We are self that loves itself now… We are self that sees itself now… We are self I only see myself now”.
Next up is EMINENT SLEAZE. I’ve come to believe that the Succubus of our time is a religion or worship of a three-headed monster with one head representing politics, another head representing the media and a third head representing corporations. Like Ghidorah (see 1964 film Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster) who’s three heads were communicated telepathically, the lyrics could be applied to any of these heads of this modern succumbs. The video itself visually represents corporations. The decisions made in boardrooms not by people but by “reptiles” who will do anything to enhance, embolden and enrich our consumer experience. And our consumption and ultimate destruction are making them rich. They are cynics who may talk of values in public and may even support non-profit organizations that offer some benefit to poor and unfortunate but it is only a smoke screen a lie to deceive people into thinking that corporations are good entities and we can’t live without them. A smoke screen they hide behind for their own greedy intent and self-preservation.
Mass amnesia and delusion are the subject of 12 THINGS I FORGOT. Memory is a tricky thing. Memory is merely a version of events that we have tailored into something we find acceptable. I’ve always believed we should not trust our memories. I’m not saying they are bad or good but that we need to keep in perspective. I’ll be honest it feels that so-called “cancel culture” may finally be confronting memories on a wide-scale in terms of culture and society. And is confronting wrongs done in the past in an attempt to make them right. While that is a good thing there is a problem that is exacerbated by the second head of our modern-day Succubus – the media. The media never forgets and is not directed at healing but pure confrontation; to play, replay and replay again the confrontation of the past in our time trapping us in the tar pit of oblivion.
I remember growing up I often heard a phrase “forgive and forget”. but no one ever clarified what we should forget. So do we just delude ourselves to a point that we forget? Can we remember and move on?
“Forget what I’ve done… to all the people that gave me their love… well I have no problem sleeping at night… I’ve done wrong but I just don’t remember….”
It seems a sad commentary on our times.