19
Apr
09

Probing the Anatomy of Human Reality: Stanleylucasrevolution’s Demolition 45 EP and David Shane Smith’s Cloud Pleaser

stanleylucasrevolution-demolition-45-bigger

I so enjoyed stanleylucasrevolution’s album, Evolutionary Sunset Call, that I both reviewed it and included it in my Top 40 Albums of 2008. Now it’s time to review the latest stanleylucasrevolution offering, the digital-only release, Demolition 45 EP, and a Stroboscopic labelmate, David Shane Smith’s album, Cloud Pleaser. Both of these works are world-weary social commentary in their own right, but they differ in the mood and style in which they depict modern urban decay; the former is gospel-glam, like a sermon delivered from the void of space, while the latter is attempting to find the organic amidst the artificial by taking folk and bissecting it with more modern lines.

The Demolition 45 EP begins with the title track, which assaults you with an onslaught of verbiage held together by strings of poetry and a gospel swagger; it’s like turning the faucet on an overworked, overheated brain only to find it has the pressure of a fire hydrant. There are brief interludes for the singing of the line “Demolition 45,” which provides a pause in the torrent for a broken lament. The same struggle against the world that permeated Evolutionary Sunset Call beats its wings and casts its shadows here; it’s a call to arms for the loners and the misfits, the intelligent babble of a mad person. The second track, Today, is gentler in its pulsing, guitar-based melody, but the reverbing, filtered overdubs of vocals bring a feeling of soaring, self-inflicted numbness as they sing: “If there’s one thing that’s for sure, it’s no one feels anymore.”

The following song, Behind, unfolds over a backdrop of melancholy acoustic guitar and soaring strings, and the vocals kind of waver between 70s David Bowie and Axl Rose in an epic sweep of a song. It surges into a rueful ballad of loss and confusion, a paean to troubled souls in a world with too many suggestions but not enough answers, and accents it all with those trademark echoey vocals, like hollow pronouncements from bouncing satellites in deep space. Appropriately, the EP finishes with The End, a briefer, pulsing track that feels like an egg of sweet sunlight being slowly cracked by the grey static within until it hatches into a black hole of both utter destruction and calm. With this EP, stanleylucasrevolution continues to explore a very human fragility that teeters at the edge of modern insanity, but continues to offer glimpses of escape and strength in realization.

david-shane-smith-cloud-pleaser

David Shane Smith’s Cloud Pleaser has a folky base with flourishes of electronic elements and vocals that have the rapidfire delivery and self-assured flow of hip-hop with an indie folk inflection, making for a fascinating, consistently engaging listen. This record is crying out for authenticity in a world filled with the search for superficial redemption and cleansing, and where everyone is an empty, lonely actor attempting to fill a human-sized void with poly filler; it becomes a completely appropriate album as it’s the first one since Smith’s move from New York to California. The shifts in musical style and abrupt experimentalism are meant to unsettle you and keep you in a state of active engagement; you have to work for this album, and your brain, which is usually sustained on a diet of easy-to-swallow saccharine liquid, needs to chew through the crunchy resistance of this album, but you feel the better for it in the end.

The opening track, City of the Future, sets the offbeat folk tone of post-apocalyptic musings for the record. Like stanleylucasrevolution’s Demolition 45, there’s a lot going on lyrically, producing gems of lines like “when the populace explodes from the broken hospitals,” “take a picture of perfection in an orgy of dysfunction,” and “blind distracted nation.” The following track, Actor, shifts the style, but not the mood, as machine guns punctuate an ominous humming and muffled bass drum. The distorted vocals have a muddy, underwater feel as though they’re coming from a corpse face-first in a war trench. There’s a claustrophobic, psychotic atmosphere to the lyrics and their delivery as the line “I just hope they can’t see how sick I am” keeps repeating throughout. There’s a lucid, intense detachment to the clamouring stream of ideas and thoughts, the clarity gained by relinquishing the mind and stepping outside of society to break down its “realities” otherwise taken for granted. The social satire continues with Brand New, a twisted, postmodern tale of redemption, where the world sets about sanitizing itself by artificial means, set against a curtain of flickering Spanish guitar samples that skip like a flickering, jumping filmstrip. The best line of the song, and one of my favourites for the whole album, is “We all want explanations as to why we’re all see-through/Well, we’re only half-created/As everything’s brand new,” expressing the mood of a ghostly society without substance, but which is being fed on a non-stop, false assurance of human potential and the eventual progress of self-actualization and reinvention. In a world of plastic surgery and genetic engineering, anyone can at least appear perfect and be cleaned into a blindingly bright conformity as white as leprosy. This jolting style is smoothed out in a country-tinged bump and sway for Empty Action, but despite the lulling, low thrum of acoustic and bass guitar, you are kept inside the increasingly intolerable world order. In many ways, this song feels like its being sung by a narrator who is idly rocking on a broken-down verandah in an American, suburban wasteland and drowsily uttering “I need a u-turn the size of California to rip through this screen and retire my character.” The creeping isolation and fakery of the narrator’s surroundings eventually hews down the comfortable melody with the sound of a buzzsaw and disjointed muttering with a termite’s persistence.

The next track, a folk song disrupted by electronic, fuzzy beats and reverbing keys, Crumb, ultimately succumbs its pastoral feel to a frenetic, lonely pace of the future, where you talk to ATMs, read street shadows, and “make small talk, smaller talk, smaller ’til it’s gone.” Even though it features some of the most serene vocals of the record, Miserablism keeps your belly tense as the constant arpeggios of guitar sit on a taut wire of minor chords; the second half moves from a spinning choral piece into a hip-hop beat and lines like “nervous system too nervous for the system” roll out like a lifeline of renegade commentary. Then comes another deceptively gentle folk song, Eyes, is riddled with an icy wind blowing through it and a shivering narrator, naked in the face of mass consumption. The next track, Entourage, is a glitchy piece with snare and piano samples, creating a juxtaposition of nervous energy and pastoral calm and inviting you to join an entourage, a gang, that has the ability to disappear. This is followed by a purely instrumental track called We Live On, which sounds like it was composed strictly on an old Casio keyboard, complete with pre-recorded drums and liberal use of different effects. The album concludes with Beauty Force, a bubbly melody that yearns for something simpler and more real, and offers the light at the end of a tunnel filled with the spectres of modern life, a yearning to “join the beauty force to crush the hate” and allow someone in to “shake my opinions like an earthquake tambourine.”

Both Demolition 45 and Cloud Pleaser are products of a truly poetic, intelligent vision
about the state of society and what we call humanity. In probing the anatomy of human reality, they are brave pieces of work that dare to step outside of the suffocating smoke and garish mirrors, ask difficult questions and provide salvation in art.

You purchase stanleylucasrevolution’s Demolition 45 EP here and David Shane Smith’s Cloud Pleaser here.

Demolition 45 – stanleylucasrevolution

The End – stanleylucasrevolution

City of the Future- David Shane Smith

Brand New – David Shane Smith

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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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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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