You Will Not Be Spared From Thinking: Stroszek’s Manufacturing Consent EP

I first fell in love with The Clash, which led to a passion for political, intelligent lyrics, and eventually to bands like the Manic Street Preachers, Gang of Four and McCarthy. Then I fell for Joy Division, which led to an intense admiration for lyrics and music that documented a fraught inner life and the turmoil and starkness of reality in a minimalist monochrome never heard before. The Clash tore down what music was the first time with punk. And Joy Division did it again with post-punk. Now the Glasgow-based band Stroszek, having fused the power of both bands into an ambitious, inspiring art and aesthetic, have a chance to bring music to its knees once more. It’s been well over a year since Stroszek released their first EP aptly entitled Demonstration, an unapologetically political piece with funereal undercurrents pulsing beneath all four tracks (for more information about Demonstration, see my earlier post about it). This month sees the release of their second EP entitled Manufacturing Consent, a nod to Chomsky and Herman’s seminal work on propaganda and the not-so-free press in “democratic” nations.

Featuring photography from Miron Zownir, an artist who has managed to expose the beauty in nihilism and deviance and to champion those on the periphery of society, this self-produced EP is more about personal politics and inner struggles against a world deafened by entertainment and simulacra. These tracks also reveal a keener desperation and energy than those on Demonstration; this time round it’s a bit like Stroszek have turned into Nietzsche’s madman, frenzied with knowledge they need to communicate to people who have never realized nor cared that their lives are governed by rhetorical forces. Stroszek simply know and feel too much and it’s burning up inside of them. I’m glad that the four tracks on Manufacturing Consent finally made it to a proper release – these songs have been a fixture of Stroszek’s live sets for quite some time (I, myself, witnessed Burning Libraries and Dancing on the Motorway firsthand over a year ago). They break down those borders between passion and reason that make us stubbornly human – their music makes you feel the thought behind the lyrics, words become palpable on a level beyond language.

The EP opens with the aforementioned Burning Libraries, a song built on a brilliant metaphor for destroying your own history and purging memories. It is Stroszek’s most frenetic song with its unrelenting drums, disorienting reverb and tiny twitches of electronic clicks, and it truly feels like you’re in an inferno of information overload before a collapse into feedback. The reprieve comes with the gentle, spine-tingling line “We’ll be hand in hand/Ruining ourselves with fear,” a lucid, yet no more comforting, moment amongst the anxiety and chaos. Burning Libraries is followed by live favourite Dancing on the Motorway, which features a viral bass line that grooves beneath the sonic bliss of guitar and relatively militant vocals: “Will you argue that it’s fascist/If I want to kill the fascists?/I don’t want your cold shoulder/I want you on the hard shoulder…Oh, whose side are you on?!/Are there any more souls to save?/While we are all just dancing on the motorway.” This juxtaposition of danceability with accusatory, intelligent lyrics emphasizes the disconnect that you feel when you step outside of the masses and view them amusing themselves to death. Richey J. Robertson’s straining, breathless vocals try to overcome the catchy oblivion of the beat in this Huxleyean generation, grasping for any of those he can pull to safety even as they sway to his own song. Knowing that the headlights are coming as a fatal dose of enlightenment arrives too late.

The sound of torrential rain signals the transition to This Town Revisited, which springs to life with cascades of Cocteau Twinsesque synths and another fantastic bass line. This song beautifully encapsulates the expression “you can never go home again” as the narrator comes to terms with the reality of his/her past against a backdrop gorgeously reminiscent of The Cure’s A Forest. The song concludes with the plaintive line “Potential is never good enough/In this town, revisited.” The final song on the track listing is the truly epic Sound the Last Post, one of the most poignant songs I’ve ever heard about war. The haunting guitar soars and chimes over the solemn bass, working once again in perfect tandem as the song marches through a forsaken sonic landscape of withered poppies as red as the carpet Agamemnon follows homeward. Referencing the Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate in Ypres and the chief of police, Pierre Vandenbraambussche, who spearheaded the daily ceremony, this song scatters the noble image of soliders and the patriotism of fighting for your country like ashes to the wind. The second verse, which declares “Falling for your soil is NOT the question/But whether, for this dirt/You could ever kill someone” also reminds me of the quote from Bertrand Russell which stated, “Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country.” It ends with lines from the film adaptation of Orwell’s 1984 to drive home the point that we are still living in a world framed by propaganda and by terms cock-eyed and loaded and poised to subdue us all. There is also a hidden track attached to the end of Sound the Last Post called A Vision of the Future. I won’t lie; I’m not a fan of hidden tracks because there never seems to be a point to having them. I will forgive this one, though, because with its use of more of the script from 1984, it definitely coalesces with the track it is following; however, it reveals a sharper electronic feel rather than the atmospheric electronics of Stroszek’s established sound. In effect, Stroszek intrigue me until the very last second of this EP.

Manufacturing Consent is already available for download from several places – you can access those links when you go to Stroszek’s MySpace. The physical copies of the EP will release soon as well. You can also download two previously unreleased tracks (Sleepwalkers and Maybe Find a Stranger) in their live versions at Threads of Sound. I fervently hope that a full-length album and new material will be forthcoming. We all need a thought-provoking, stylistically-challenging band like this. I think it’s rather criminal that Stroszek doesn’t have a higher profile when bands like Glasvegas get accolades for hackneyed stabs at played-out, comfortable themes and styles. I reckon that Stroszek are yet another one of those bands out of their time precisely because they see their time all too clearly. And those bands will always matter.

Stroszek’s Web site: http://www.stroszek.co.uk/

Dancing on the Motorway – Stroszek

This Town Revisited – Stroszek


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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave


So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun


Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head


Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away


Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners


Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away


You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender


I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding


You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black


Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side


Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb


Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape


Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah


And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning


My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it


Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love


We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's


Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south


Running on


As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different


LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell


Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are


You must let her go

She's not crying



Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times



Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone


Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't


So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need


The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest


Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know


No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more


All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids


Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome


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