Radio Quarantine – David Boring: Unnatural Objects and Their Humans

(2017)

Looking east to Hong Kong. Looking east to DAVID BORING. Looking east to this strange (to some) mission statement from a band that brings the noise: “DAVID BORING is the acceptable face of modern morbidity. We don’t set out to entertain, instead join us for a self-indulgent celebration of inane sufferings” In a sense it does sound like something a small group of 20-somethings would say, but it makes too much sense to write it off to age. Dismissing the sentiment would signify surrender. It would mean normalizing all this shit going on around us.

“The Machine” is the womb that breeds, governs and drives the dystopia that slowly takes form. The womb provides.
“Unnatural objects” denotes the normalized absurdities that blossomed under a cheerfully toxic environment.
“Their Humans” looks dispassionately at a series of (objectified) protagonists and their futile attempts to survive. The three arcs intertwine to form a 12-act piece that paints a violently nihilistic picture, mapping the band’s intricate psyche in response to the gentle malice of the modern world.”

I can’t dismiss that. Inane sufferings, indeed. We could all be doing better, but we’re not.

The internet is a strange thing. Do a Google search of something like “post-punk bands in East Asia” and find this. What is this? This is something I needed to hear. It’s a message from the other side of the planet that many of us are connected, on the same page. The comfort that this connection brings, despite that the shared message is unsettling, cannot be underestimated and it’s right at my fingertips. It’s a very very small world, and that could be a very good or a bad thing. Small means it’s easier to kill. Small means it could be easier to save. Fingers crossed. I remain hopeful.

I love this album. It’s the alternative soundtrack to a vision like Bladerunner, rather than the dreamy synth that Vangelis brought to an otherwise entirely dystopian moving portrait of our urban future. Don’t get me wrong. Vangelis worked for the dank decay and floating dreamscape images behind the action. That was certainly one way to play it. It could have also been successfully offset in the other direction by David Boring. But I’m sure Ridley Scott was going for a slower, heavier sort of oppressive imagery. This would have jacked up the level of anxiety of the film and the viewer. It’s an entirely different vibe, and to me, it seems more accurate. This might paint the portrait of a society much closer to falling apart, or actually exploding. It would have turned the movie from a thought-piece into an alarm. Different vibe altogether.

I’m mulling over the phrase, “cheerfully toxic environment.” Brunch and bottomless mimosas in a smoggy sidewalk shanty in the middle of winter in the middle of winter. Someone on the same block is looking at an eviction notice or an insane medical bill that will not be paid. Someone in the same building is buying fancy shoes on Amazon and wondering if there will anywhere to wear anything fancy in 2021, or 2022, but they’re buying them anyway and they’ll sit as a reminder of “the old normal” and fear of what “the new normal” may be. Same building, someone’s grandmother has died in a nursing home and they’re wondering how to pay for the funeral, and if they should bother with a funeral that nobody can come to. The excited chatter from the shanty, young people shouting over a soundtrack of Beyonce or Cardi B, is the backdrop for all of it. And someone within earshot will wake up the following Monday and have no job to go to.

This didn’t start with Covid-19. The pandemic is merely the exclamation point. Cheerfully toxic environment!!!

Shopping malls and Broadway plays and tour buses and shiny argon/neon lights, and I’m not a complete cunt. I know that life has to plow on. This missive, and maybe David Boring too, is just a counterpoint to red pill normalcy. Nobody said that life outside The Matrix was pretty. No, indeed it’s pretty clear that it’s not. Hell, you don’t even have to go the The Matrix for the message. It’s been very effectively and clearly expressed in children’s movies like Wall-E and The Lego Movie. Remember The Lego Movie? “Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of the team!”

Narrator: Everything is not awesome. No, in fact, something really big is about to happen to the people of Lego Land.

In my ongoing argument with the world over whether art should be a hammer or a mirror (and clearly it can be both), David Boring is a hammer. There is some irony in them calling their album a celebration. It’s easily more of an indictment but set to music. They’re dancing around the dumpster fire. Give me more of that attitude. Give me more people who aren’t going to pretend that everything is awesome. Moments may well be awesome, but just look at all this bullshit.

Just look at it.

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