In this edition of his monthly column, Adam Harper - the premier writer on emergent, underground music - considers musical futurism and finds a paradox in its chilly anti-humanism.
When I first listened to the opening tracks of Egyptrixx's recent album A/B til Infinity, my mind's eye saw an attack on climate refugees by a squadron of drone aircraft. This was not an image I'd thought about before. The year was somewhere between 2020 and 2050; thousands of people, mostly people of color, shambled towards a border carrying hastily packed bags and their distraught children in rain - not intense but steady and oppressive. The border was marked with a hastily erected chain-link fence topped with CCTV cameras, and the refugees might have been attempting to cross from Louisiana into Texas, or Bangladesh into India, or Vietnam into China. Reaching the fence, the refugees began to mass against it, rattling it, and eventually sections of the border gave way, trampled as people ran desperately across.
Someone in an office somewhere makes the call, and next-generation drones are scrambled from the nearest base. Recognizing the lithe V shapes just above the horizon, the crowd panics further. These are not the clunky model aircraft that were once used on Afghanistan and Pakistan, but aerodynamic flying wings like the X-45, armed with heat rays and sonic cannons. It is their old-fashioned bombs, bullets, and missiles that are used within minutes of their arrival at the scene, however, unleashed indiscriminately on people that in the heat of the moment are reduced to illegitimate human surplus. All this probably doesn't result from any deliberate intention on Egytprixx's part - visually at least, the music was linked to semi-abstract alien environments. Nevertheless, as I listened, I was in the bodies of the refugees, feeling utterly trapped and doomed by the climate, by the fence, and by the drone attack. But I was also in the cold metallic bodies of the unmanned aircraft, elegant and deadly as they swooped over the ant-like heat signatures of the refugees. And I was experiencing the scene from a quasi-cinematic, omniscient, more historic point-of-view too, where technological, social, and ecological inevitabilities threaten the human race and its planet. The most frightening thing about this image, however, might not have been citizens being massacred by authorities panicked into violent repression. It was that, if I'm honest (and I ought to be) there was, like in all the recent Hollywood apocalypse and dystopian movies, something very darkly affirming, rewarding, and cathartic about experiencing all this. A post-human death wish.