Cultural Bulletin
Cultural Bulletin is a quarterly magazine that provides an international view of creative work. We look to film, music, design and art as signifiers of our cultural moment.

In Review: Nate Young – Volume One: Dilemmas of Identity 

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Label: Lower Floor

The atonal nature of discordant electronics, lonely sounds and damage are increasingly serving as symbols for an emerging reality. Whether it is wandering around the supermarket or the post-apocalypse, there is a prevailing feeling that these places aren’t worlds away from each other. We will run out of resources, technology will enslave us, we’ll discover that we are actually software, Brexit, so on and so forth...

Instrumental music is a long established conductor of narrative form. Be it an orchestral movement or ambient sprawl, we are able to subjectively detect an emotional contingent within a piece of music and extract a story from it. The narrative can be as straightforward or as abstract as the listener feels compelled to imagine; a series of still landscapes, the arc of a globe over time or something as sedentary as a caretaker cleaning an old building at night. More dystopian stories, like Dilemmas of Identity, are monochromatic in their cynicism – a negative perspective opting instead, to convey the vividness and complexities of exactly how things might fall apart for the entirety of civilisation as we know it. 

Dilemmas of Identity presents us with a series of bleak scenarios for humanity. In fact, the song titles are the most organic aspects of the music – they provide an initial human image that is then set in opposition to an artificial counterpoint. It is not a stretch to extract a narrative from such song titles as ‘The Weeping Babe’, ‘Crumpled Body’, ‘Dribbling Insane’, ‘Flushing’ and ‘Pardon The Mess’ which already paint a picture of human suffering. Partnered with the music, it is clear that Dilemmas of Identity represents a total breakdown in the relationship between human and machine. 

This can be read in a number of ways, total breakdown of our systems, hostile A.I or some form of weaponry disaster. Whatever has occurred in Dilemmas of Identity, one thing for sure is that we are unequivocally fucked. Are these stories still science-fiction? Are we sleepwalking towards the apocalypse? Have we created systems of our own enslavement? Does anyone know where we are going? Is this music an early warning? AG