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Audio Agitation: Dystopia

Image of gridded room with free-floating squares that look like screens into another universe.
Laura Heidotten | St. Louis Public Radio

Destruction, reinvention and the Anthropocene. Adult Fur’s, all-too prescient new album MYU tackles these concerns while acknowledging that the time may be too late for us humans.  In a recent RFT review by Christian Schaeffer the album is characterized as “dystopic” and in this age of political and ecological sturm und drang we decided to lean into that classification and see what other “dystopic music” is burbling up through the city’s pavement.

Adult Fur: Composer and producer RyanMcNeely’s project is a truly collaborative affair that draws on fellow musicians to tell his dystopic tale.  McNeely’s project tells the story of a female protagonist fused from two people at the end of the world and the eventual reinvention of the species. Throughout the album various “oracles” in the form of Damon Davis, Mvstermind, AtM, Rockwell Knuckles, Sixela Yoccm, and Tef Poe offer guidance to the protagonist. Layers of beats, electronic melodies, and guitars surge and recede as the narrative plays out over 11 tracks.

Staghorn: This three-piece post-rock outfit partially definestheir musical projectas “set within proverbial walls of sound a spoken word narrative concerning a final human settlement evokes images of dystopia, invoking moods both bleak and hopeful.” One song begins “In 2112 when the earth’s super volcano’s erupted in an event known as The Expiration Date, most of human kind within 300 miles of these vacations perished…” and continues to describe the animal kingdom’s revenge on humanity for screwing up earth. Fun fact: band members Lexy Baron and Jared Scheurer both work at Mills Custom Music Company which is gaining a reputation for producing high-quality amplifiers. 

The Gorge: This four-piece metal and hardcore hybrid group’s made waves around St. Louis and various music blogs with the February release of their album Thousand Year Fire. Throughout the album, guitarist Phil Ring and the band incorporate elements of jazz and classical music as they build their own unique tumult.  Although the band hasn’t apparently characterized the album as dystopic, titles like “Return to Earth” and “River Ghosts” suggest they’re embracing the idea of a future filled with environmental degradation

Audio Agitation is a recurring six-song playlist culled from recent releases or shaped by events in St. Louis' ever-changing music scene. If you're from the STL area or Missouri and you're putting out a record you think we should hear, send a heads' up to warnold@stlpublicradio.org.