Having departed Kasabian after their first album, Chris Karloff (right) is back with own twisted sythns and warped electronics with new group Black Onassis. Head of debut album Desensitized (out 23 September), which features members of M83, The Cooper Temple Clause and The Duke Spirit, Karloff has put together this Playlist of dystopian sounds for Q.
Primal Scream- Swastika Eyes "The first time I heard Swastika Eyes I was a teenager working in a warehouse back in Leicester. I was responsible for handling highly corrosive and poisonous chemicals. The song spoke loudly to me, probably because I was young, doing this dangerous job, and getting paid next to nothing for it. To me, it's about this false belief that the capitalist society we live in provides a certain freedom and opportunity for socioeconomic success, when really it can breed oppression and repression of the masses. That we are subconsciously ruled over, bloated and seduced by material distractions and hypnotised by the pearls of the so called free market. It also touches upon themes of military imperialism, corporate indifference, and false democracy."
Blur - The Universal "For me, The Universal is one of Blur's best songs. Aside from the obvious dystopian visual references that accompanied the release (the cover art which pays homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the video which was inspired by A Clockwork Orange), there are very strong allusions to an imminent dissolution of society, one in which the future's been sold. A future bought by corporate interests. A future full of empty promises and false hopes. A future in which we are all intertwined by the thread of technology instead of real human interaction. It's amazing how almost prophetic that was! These days people interact primarily through social media, their relationships predominantly maintained through Facebook and Twitter. The song also predicts a Big Brother society in which everyone is watched closely, as the lyric satellites in every home suggests. The music is immensely powerful and beautiful. It is a perfect backdrop to any dystopian tale."
Kraftwerk- Radioactivity "Radioactivity is one of my favourite Kraftwerk songs. It has this really sad feeling about it. A desperation and pain that sticks you right through the heart, while this amazing synth hook uplifts and the ethereal mellotron voices inject a certain hope. The song centres around an anti-nuclear sentiment, and the later version of the song mentions historic tragedies like Chernobyl and Hiroshima, highlighting the destructive nature of radioactivity. The mention of Madame Curie is particularly poignant, being as she dedicated so much of her life to her pioneering research on radioactivity, and died of her overexposure to it. Radioactivity in itself is dualistic, as it is something that can both destroy and heal."
Radiohead- 2+2=5 (The Lukewarm) "Any dystopian soundtrack would be incomplete without a song from Radiohead, one of the most talented and profound bands of our time. 2+2=5 is a reference to George Orwell's 1984. It is a phrase used to illustrate that truth can be irrelevant. 2+2=5 is an obviously false statement, but if a governing power insists that it is in fact true, it becomes the truth (however irrational it may be). The Thought Police have the potential to condition people into rejecting fact and accepting that which is imposed on them, especially when there is the threat of death or violence. Logic becomes unimportant. The alternate title for this song is The Lukewarm, a reference to Dante's Inferno and those tepid souls that reside in the vestibule of hell. Their sins are not grave enough to merit being banished to the depths of hell, but they also did nothing to earn a place in heaven. They are the ones who lack the conviction to stand up for what's good and right, who allow injustice to happen while doing nothing to stop it."
The Specials - Ghost Town "This is probably one of the more overtly political songs on the list, addressing themes of unemployment, economic collapse, violence, and governmental indifference. It was written in response to the riots, urban decay, inner-city deprivation, racial tension, and mass unemployment England experienced in the early 1980s. It's the soundtrack to a society gutted by recession and social unrest, one that is unfortunately just as relevant and familiar today as it was back then."
Joy Division- Transmission "Transmission is a song about escapism through music and a voluntary isolation from the outside world. Another song written against the backdrop of Thatcher's Britain, it is a testament to life in England in the late 1970s. And while other bands of the time like The Clash and The Specials chose a more direct, in-your-face approach to their social commentary, Joy Division's quiet and subdued (yet equally somber and effective) approach spoke just as loudly."
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - The Message "One of my absolute favourites on the list. It is one of the first rap songs to focus on social commentary, paving the road for politically charged acts like NWA and Public Enemy. The lyrics are powerful, honest and raw, and highlight the extreme poverty and atrocious conditions of inner-city living in 1970s New York. The Message is about an individual who is barely hanging on, doomed to a life of limited opportunities and no prospects of social promotion. As the world falls apart around him, he repeats: It's a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from going under. Musically it's one of the best tracks ever written. The synth hooks are unbelievable and it was lightyears ahead of its time."
David Bowie - Big Brother "This song explores the relationship between ruler and subject, the oppressor and the oppressed. It's a story told from the point of view of a man conditioned to seek and embrace authority. He begs for this Big Brother (Apollo) figure to follow with complete obeisance. It is evocative of George Orwell's 1984, where despite Winston's initial extreme reluctance, in the end he willingly surrenders to the authority and love of Big Brother."
Rage Against The Machine - Bulls On Parade "Rage Against The Machine are inarguably one of the greatest protest bands in history. Bulls On Parade addresses the complex relationship between military and industry. Political corruption, corporate interest, money and greed can easily give rise to misplaced power. Wars are good business for arms manufacturers, and arms manufacturers make hefty campaign contributions, provide jobs, and global exports. This vicious cycle and vested interest in a war economy can easily distract government from devoting resources to domestic issues and the welfare of its own people. Weapons, not food, not homes, not shoes, not need just feed the war cannibal animal. The song also compares the the American government and military to bulls on parade, choosing to employ martial law and violence over engaging in diplomacy."
Gary Numan & Tubeway Army - Down In The Park "Down In The Park is a science fiction narrative about a dystopian society run by Machmen, a governing power that hunt and rape humans for sport. This violent display serves as motivation for humans to remain obedient, all while providing entertainment for their machine friends who observe from a restaurant nearby. Themes of a robot uprising and usurpation of power underly a deeper mistrust for headlong advances in technology, which could threaten humanity as we know it."
For more head to Facebook.com/BlackOnassis, plus he's the band's new track Brain (ft Ben Gautrey).