19
Apr
09

Bildungsroman For the Postmodern Paranoid: Del Marquis and Embryoroom’s Litter to Society

del-marquis-litter-to-society-smaller

It’s been quite some time since the last Scissor Sisters album, and admittedly, they weren’t top of my mind for the past year or so. I was also completely unaware that their high-trousered lead guitarist, Del Marquis, was involved in several solo outings, including his latest collaboration with Embryoroom, a multimedia group headed by writer/director/producer Edward Quist and Michael Wargula. This album, called Litter to Society, will release digitally on May 26 via delmarquis.com and comes on the heels of two recent projects in the same series entitled Hot House and Character Assassination, respectively. Interspersed with regular instrumental interludes and featuring “shadow” tracks, which are meant to represent an ulterior personality of the work, Litter to Society is a continuation of a larger narrative; this work, along with the preceding other two, come alongside a video element, which follows Marquis as the character, Viz, “who has been abducted by a mysterious force and taken into a world where he is seemingly ‘dissected’ emotionally and psychologically, therefore forced to confront his fears.” Marquis describes the theme for Litter to Society as “an account of depravity in modern life, told through songs about urban and social decay. Within each moment, there is hope, the ‘child inside’ and the possibility of redemption.” Treading a Blake-like dichotomy of innocence and experience, Marquis and Embryoroom take this romantic notion and give it a sci-fi, existential gloss.

In some ways this record is bright and shiny with the biggest, 80s-style production, flouncing about in bolshy excesses; then at other times, it is highly subdued and the brashness is tempered either into a subconscious humming or a glistening renewal. The record opens with the title track, which begins with a chorus of soulful female vocals. Rather than mere icy electro, this song is raw with funk and scratchy grooves, and its refrain of “child inside” acts like a dream-like wake-up call to the id, inciting debauched freedom rather than reflecting the innocence of childhood. Marquis’s vocals leap from seductive, low tones to higher, soul-inflected cadences (reminding me a bit of George Michael in places), revealing the struggle between gritty experience and wispy purity; however, this dialogue ends while the last minute features pared back instrumentation and old-style crooning. There is then a rather brief instrumental interlude called Backroom, which sounds like the rough hum of laser bars on an electronic cage, pulsing to a tribal rhythm and surreptitious approach. The suspense lifts to display the first “shadow” of the piece: Litter to Society Shadow, a darker re-imagining of the first track. This time, the track features liberal use of vocoder and the brass section is replaced by angular shades of synths and drum machines. There is a more mechanistic, industrial feel that recalls Depeche Mode, and rather than explosions of sonic colour, the new version, filled with distortion, moves like a re-animated automaton sparking with a network of cold, blue lightning. Freewheeling hedonism seems to be replaced with a pervasive economy of movement and rigid, clinical enjoyment.

Another instrumental interlude appears as AKL Shadow brings the high-gloss synth-funk back with bass and brass. Instead of the tension of Backroom, this track feels lighter and freer, and it reaches its climax in the following song, Any Kind of Love, a strutting, preening piece backed by a full, soulful chorus of female backing vocals. As horns wail and synths squeal, it feels like the room is awash in a mardi gras of flavours and influences, and all inhibitions are drowned out by the sheer size of the sound. The other, colder side of the album reappears with Bug and its use of cleaner, stuttery beats. A vocoder surges like a misfiring circuit beneath the clicking rhythm until the last quarter takes a melodic turn, sending light haloes of sound puffing into the air like laconic smoke rings. Entitled Backroom II, the next track does, indeed, act as a sequel for Backroom with its sonic slices and whistles sounding like the whetting of some neon blade or an ensuing duel in the dark. The brief, weaker reprise of “child inside” precedes the metallic battle sounds as though the bacchanalian party is becoming a distant dream. The rapidly dissolving reverie continues to the last minute of the song as a nearly monotone voice declares, “there is only time and space and the gap between them.” The album concludes with I Believe In You, a surprisingly vulnerable ballad of acoustic guitar and piano with a tender vocal performance from Marquis. The dirty female chorus is replaced by angelic voices as the narrator appears to re-discover himself and find the latent spring of self-worth. In its wide-eyed, earnest prettiness, its contrast with the slick excesses and the mechanical conflict of the earlier songs feels like the dispelling of a swarm of black butterflies.

While I no doubt enjoy the styles of music Litter to Society explores (this kind of soulful synthpop is right up my alley), what truly grabs me about it is how it is attached to a much larger concept, which has obviously been carefully crafted and encompasses multimedia elements. Using massive production and a brilliant mixture of the earthy and glacial, Marquis takes on some fascinating existential and moral quandaries while telling a bildungsroman for the postmodern paranoid. I’m now very curious to explore the earlier installments of this series and look forward to seeing how the fourth and final installment unfolds.

Litter To Society – Del Marquis and Embryoroom

Any Kind of Love – Del Marquis and Embryoroom

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1 Response to “Bildungsroman For the Postmodern Paranoid: Del Marquis and Embryoroom’s Litter to Society”



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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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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

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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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it

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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

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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

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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

Empty

Running on

Bravado

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

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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

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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

Photobucket

You must let her go

She's not crying

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Baiting

Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times

Valentines

Hating

Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone

Whipcrack

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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