Radio Quarantine: Coaltar Of The Deepers – No Thank You (2001)

It’s a safe bet that the initial draw for this was the image of the toy robot (or whatever it is) but COALTAR OF THE DEEPERS would have done okay with me on just a listen. It’s a strange mix of styles, alt-metal, shoegaze, electro, etc. but whoever is the brains behind this made it all work. Yah, it works. I know I say that a lot and maybe that’s lazy but it’s true. It works. These aren’t music reviews. This is just me playing music and sharing it.

I’m sitting here this morning and it’s just gone six and I’m listening to Coaltar over a bed of snowplows and salt spreaders out on the parkway below. There isn’t much snow to speak of but people are going to hit that last turn onto Prospect Expressway at the circle going sideways. It’s not a pretty sight. Compelling but not pretty.

I’m thinking more on what I mentioned yesterday or the day before, about the race to use up all the sky and render the ground level a grimy, shadowed hole. It does seem like science fiction. A bit Bladerunner. A bit Fifth Element. A bit Matrix. The Matrix comes to mind a lot, despite its flaws. It would be interesting to see the story retold from the perspective of Agent Smith. From another angle he might be the real hero of the story. Not Neo, or Morpheus, but Smith himself.

Agent Smith: I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.

Come on now! Is he wrong?

Agent Smith: Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this: the peak of your civilization. I say your civilization, because as soon as we started thinking for you it really became our civilization, which is of course what this is all about. Evolution, Morpheus, evolution. Like the dinosaur. Look out that window. You’ve had your time. The future is *our* world, Morpheus. The future is our time.

Is this true? It seems to me there is at least some truth in it. We do have a “no pain no gain” approach to our Universe. Our major religions put salvation in the context of a reward we get for holding onto faith despite any amount of suffering. This is what you get for endurance. Heaven is your length of service award. It’s supposed to be painful here, but… but… but…

What’s the equivalent Heaven for Agent Smith?

Agent Smith: I hate this place. This zoo. This prison. This reality, whatever you want to call it, I can’t stand it any longer. It’s the smell, if there is such a thing. I feel saturated by it. I can taste your stink and every time I do, I fear that I’ve somehow been infected by it. It’s — it’s repulsive! Isn’t it? I must get out of here. I must get free… and in this mind is the key, my key. Once Zion is destroyed, there is no need for me to be here. Do you understand? I need the codes, I have to get inside Zion and you have to tell me how. You’re going to tell me, or you’re going to die!

Angles on this film keep revealing themselves to me, or maybe new depths to old angles. What were the rebels in The Matrix fighting for? Truth. Autonomy? The inherent value of pain and suffering?

And Agent Smith. Was he the bad guy? Are there bad guys in The Matrix? Anyway, I’m just scratching the surface a bit more. I’m playing with ideas. I’m wondering what the fuck we’re all doing here and why.

There’s a new Matrix film out also. It’s probably time to have a look.

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