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Sound of the Future?,
This review is from: Hidden (Audio CD)
Thirty or forty years ago people looking to the future did so with a mixture of excitement and wonder. It hadn't been long since man first bounced across the surface of the moon and space exploration still offered up many possibilities to those who dared to dream and wonder. Star Wars and Star Trek were the most popular shows on television because they presented scenarios in which even the most humble cave dweller could fly a jet fighter into the heart of a planet and destroy it in an interstellar firework display that would bring him fame if not fortune nor further acting roles.
Over the years the stuff of science fiction became the stuff of science fact as egg heads and boffins became increasingly more ambitious. However, we are only five years away from having to accept that hover-boards and self drying jackets were the stuff only the imagination of Hollywood script writers could conjure up. But then again back in 1985 there were no working time machines either; the DeLorean itself was impractical, let alone the flux capacitor.
Even when 2001 rolled around and there was no Space Odyssey to be seen and people began to stop dreaming. However, the catastrophic and world changing events of that year pointed to a much more terrifying future than anything that Kubric could have predicted, and as oil runs dangerously low and ideological beliefs clash with increasing violence one thing is made abundantly clear: The Future Is War.
These New Puritans are the sound of the future. Not only do they pedal a good line in sonic frequencies that can prick the hairs on your neck up to razor sharp spikes, but they also specialise in doom, terror and militant beats, albeit militant beats that will have you dancing as opposed to marching. Anyone who is familiar with Scott Walker's The Drift will be familiar with the cold percussive thud of the flesh of dead swine and here the sound is emulated until it sounds like the thrum of helicopter blades or the recoil of machine gun fire. Add to this horns that bring to mind Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man and choirs of youthful Gregorians and you have the perfect soundtrack to a war in a dark, bleak future.
Doesn't sound like fun? Maybe not. Maybe Hidden is not the sort of record you can get grooving to on a Saturday night at the youth club, but it is dangerously cool, and as fresh and sharp as the sword we hear ringing with a clarity of tone that cuts through the mix during "We Want War", a tone that is so ice cold and clear that you would be forgiven for thinking that a real Samurai has appeared from the shadows of your room and is about to take your head cleanly off your neck.
Elsewhere there are other sinister sounds lurking beneath the relentless dancehall beats and anyone who has recently read House of Leaves or seen Paranormal Activity will be forgiven for feeling their bowels lunge in terror at the thudding that seems to be coming from something terrifying beyond the door, taunting you with a methodical, rhythmic pounding. Whilst it is not quite as frightening as Scott Walker's aforementioned The Drift, as that album inhabits another world entirely, it is the closest thing I can equate it to in mood if not sound. And Hidden still stands a chance of getting your hips swaying despite that feeling of unease.
And so These New Puritans present to us their vision of the future; bleak, unsettling and violent. Given this prediction would any of us really want to live there? Is there any enjoyment to be weaned out of this sort of musical statement? Simply put, my answer is yes. However, if someone asks me where I'd rather spend my time, Heaven or Hell, I usually quip Hell, because the Devil has all the best tunes and because all of my friends will be there. Obviously, if there is a Heaven then I take that back, but similarly, given the choice between the future, where the soundtrack is this record, or a time machine that would enable me to dwell forever in the songs I have already heard, then I take the future and all its uncertainty. Which is fortunate as I have nowhere else to go.