North Korea and America are inching closer and closer to war. The climate is changing dramatically. Asteroids are headed our way, society is brimming with discontent and some people claim they see signs of the apocalypse unfolding in the headlines.
Now, that’s being awfully pessimistic about our future, but let’s say at least one of those events comes to pass. What’s an angsty college student to do, but put on an album and hope it fits whatever end-of-the-world scenario is currently ongoing?
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – F# A# Infinity
F# A# Infinity is the first full-length release from Canadian Post-rock legends Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Clocking in at 63 minutes spread out over three distinct songs, F# remains, to this day, one of the most alarmingly bleak albums in a genre that prides itself on being bleak and brooding.
The chilling, spoken-word introduction given in the first couple minutes of the album on the track “The Dead Flag Blues” is simply a taste of what’s to come, in what a lot of listeners have described as a “post-nuclear war Earth.”
“The car is on fire, and there’s no driver at the wheel. And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides. And a dark wind blows,” begins front man Efrim Menuck, who, backed by a slow and depressing string section, describes a decrepit and decaying city and the emptiness of those still inhabiting it. The melody carries on as Menuck further sets the scene, with lines like “The government is corrupt, and we’re on so many drugs, with the radio on and the curtains drawn. We’re trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death.”
It’s the perfect song to put on if you’re experiencing total societal collapse or the aftershocks of a brief nuclear war. Of if zombies are more your thing, the next song on the album, “East Hastings,” was featured in the movie 28 Days Later, and for good reason.
Tim Hecker – Ravedeath 1972
There’s plenty of Ambient/Electronic/Drone artists out there, but in 2011, Hecker put out something that would garner widespread critical acclaim, as well as foster feelings of despair, emptiness and dissolution.
Don’t let the word “rave” in the title fool you. Ravedeath 1972 is anything but a thumping club anthem meant to be enjoyed with glow sticks and MDMA. It’s a loose concept album where Hecker wordlessly explores the concept of the “degradation of music” across 52 minutes. With a mixture of keyboard, tape, effects-drenched guitar and even a pipe organ, Hecker gives the listeners a taste of what a truly empty and desolate world might be like. In the event that everyone except for you has been left behind, Ravedeath 1972 will at the very least understand your suffering, though it can, by its own nature, offer no companionship.
Radiohead – OK Computer
We’ve all wondered what the future would be like. Flying cars, distant space colonies, neon lights on everything…
Alternative rock legends Radiohead have a different idea. The future is a lot more chaotic than you could imagine. Dystopian societies, crooked politicians, riot police, aliens, and the ideal citizen is a “pig, in a cage, on antibiotics.”
OK Computer has settled into much critical acclaim (so much so that it would be unfeasible to try and describe its legacy in this simple article), it continues to offer a dramatic look at what a techno-dystopian future might be like. While F# and Ravedeath might be a look into what a desolate or decaying earth would be like, OK Computer’s vision for the apocalypse is anything but desolate and decaying. It is cramped, sweaty, loud, disenfranchised, manipulated, propagated and automated.
Deltron 3030 – Deltron 3030
“Deltron 3030” is what would happen if someone took a Science Fiction novel and made a hip-hop album about it.
“In the year 3030, evil oligarchs, under the command of the monolithic New World Order, suppress human rights, and the human right to rhyme. Our hero, Deltron Zero, a mech pilot and galactic computer prodigy, must battle-rap his way to Galactic Rhyme Federation Champion in order to liberate the galaxy.”
Part humor, part social commentary, Del the Funky Homosapien, who plays the part of Deltron Zero, offers a dystopian apocalypse less grounded in reality than “OK Computer,” but far more bizarre and grandiose. If the future is anything like what Deltron can envision, you better hope you die long before our hero recuses himself to Earth, only to have his memory wiped and the world plunged back into darkness.
Current 93 – I Have a Special Plan for This World
According to poet Robert Frost, the world will end in two ways: Fire or ice.
Experimental music group Current 93 has a different plan, or to put it more aptly, a “special plan.”
What does this special plan entail? It’s difficult to put it into words exactly what the single, 22-minute-long song/poem is getting at, but judging by the lyrics composed by renowned horror writer Thomas Ligotti, and spoken by Current 93’s David Tibet, it’s nothing we can truly comprehend.
Famous horror author H.P. Lovecraft wrote that the poor souls who gaze upon the faces of his mythical entities (Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth and The Great Old Ones) are stricken with madness. The lyrics to I Have a Special Plan are probably what someone would say if they looked upon the face of some Lovecraftian cosmic horror, and then immediately killed themselves afterwards.
So the next time you see a cosmic entity older than time itself rising up out of the ocean or emerging from beyond the stars, make sure to put on Current 93’s “I Have a Special Plan for This World” so you can properly soundtrack your incomprehensible demise.