What makes a successful society? Is it a dazzling array of consumer products? Is it a baffling quantity of TV channels, or social media platforms, such that more and more of our ever decreasing leisure time is spent in mute panic, paralysed by the illusion of choice? Were the vast efforts in the fields of education, working class housing, free healthcare and socially owned industrial development that typified the grey dystopia to be found just on the other side of the iron curtain an evil to be washed away by consumer society?
This year Spotify ran an advertising campaign which – while attempting to be funny and personal – actually revealed the astoundingly sinister level of corporate surveillance which we’ve welcomed into our lives.
“To the person in LA who listened to the “forever alone” playlist for 4 hours on Valentine’s Day, are you ok?”
“To the 1235 guys who loved the “Girl’s night out” playlist this year, we love you”
…and so on.
Via their various motion and activity tracking applications, Apple even know your heart rate and location at any given time of day. They can pinpoint, with an astouding degree of accuracy, whether you’re at work, going shopping, taking a dump or making love. They can then feedback all this information into your ubiquitous consumption of their products, to shape your behaviour more effectively and profitably.
The combined data sets of a just a few companies, themselves mostly part of the same few mega-corporations, paints a more total picture of your public and your secret life than the Stasi state managed at the height of their powers – all without having to spend a penny on anything so impractical as a subsidised public service. Thank god for liberal democracy.
This tape is, loosely, a round up of last couple of years – both literally and autobiographically. It starts with the rock and roll funeral march of early 2016, winding its way through the strange rediscovery of retro electro and finishing with a bit of a bubblegum synthpop twist. In dialectical materialism, every crisis or conflict contains the seeds of its own solution, as we’ve watched the bad future roll out over the last few years we’ve also experience an upsurge in optimism for the better world to come. This mixtape is the musical backdrop to this emotional state.