MUSIC & SURVEILLANCE #11 The Transparent Society

Industrial music has always been attracted to dystopian worlds and apocalyptical aesthetics. The new episode of our MUSIC & SURVEILLANCE series explores the work of Skull:Axis, an artist self-described as ‘paranoid, delusional industrial’ that has devoted a whole record to ‘The Transparent Society’.

Skull:Axis is actually Jason B. Bernard, from Brighton, who is also responsible for the record label Peripheral, officially ‘the home of all things Dark’. Bernard plays intricate electronic music combining metalic and synthetic sounds, somewhere between obscure ambient and uncomfortable experimentation.

‘The Transparent Society’ is originally the title of book published in 1998 by David Brin, in which this science-fiction author tried to argue in favour of extreme social transparency. Skull:Axis’ record, also titled ‘The Transparent Society’ and published by Peripheral in 2013, takes a critical approach to transparency by offering eight dark tracks with eerie sounds and threatening voices repeating numbers. The artwork is black and white and retro, but the surveillance practices sketched out are rather contemporary.

The hypnotic ‘Data Retention Directive evokes the EU legal instrument currently imposing the general retention of communications data of all users of telecommunications networks in Europe. ‘SORM-2’ refers to the Russian system for the monitoring of telecommunications and Internet activity. A track named ‘Surveillance I’ is mirrored by a longer piece called ‘Überwachung I. The record wraps up with ‘Hide’, the most peaceful (or empty) track of the lot. The CD is accompanied by a quote by Marc Maron: ‘Surveillance induced morality: relics of cultural retardation’Text by Gloria González Fuster

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