Punk is an eruption. Overthrow. A negation of social class and privilege. No Gods! No Masters! Raw, explosive energy. But energy to what? How can punk tell stories? Make histories? Build new worlds?
In the 1980s and 1990s, writers such as William Gibson and Bruce Sterling gave us one answer to this question. By cross-breeding punk with science fiction, to create “cyberpunk” : false histories, future histories. The Gernsback Continuum. Dori Bangs. Mistaken memories of mechanical computers.
Punk and science fiction. For a brief moment, the fiery comet of punk plunged into the imploding star of America’s techno-optimist dreaming. And it was spectacular.
And then it fizzled. Cyberpunk was quickly reduced to a cliché of mirror-shades and James Dean with a head-full of chips. By the late 90s, technology put its suit back on and went looking for an IPO.
But Cyberpunk’s not dead.
Or if it is, it’s only temporary. Engulfed at the bottom of the ocean. 20,000 leagues beneath the waves, buried among the cyclopean tombstones of R’lyeh. It sleeps with the fish-people and dines with Drexciyans. The sea finds its own use for the things the surface world has thrown away.
And even in death, cyberpunk stirs, and sends visions, bubbling up from the deep web, to haunt the restless dreams of the waking world. Killer drones, troll-farms breeding fake news, zero-day attacks on the internet of things, Equation Drug, WannaCry, Sesame Credit, The DAO, the dangers of Artificial Intelligence. Cyberpunk is here amongst us. Whispering through the wifi.
There has never been a greater need for stories of the future fuelled by the disruptive energy of punk. Only punk is (paradoxically) both idealistic and cynical enough to grapple with the complexities that our hyperconnected, accelerated techno-economy and society throw up.
k[A]l3utun ov[E]rdriv3’s EP brings us cyberpunk at its most mytho-poetically magnificent. A rich and confused syncretism of Anarcopunk, hacker-culture and Latin American magic realism : political critique as magickal ritual. Krakens and witches; a ghostly pirate ship haunts the seas off the coast of Chile; sea-lions absorb the souls of the drowned to build a necrotic artificial intelligence. An anti-colonial insurgency of guerilla poltergeists arises while the Mapinguari hunts Amazonia’s rhizomic Matrix and the Abaçaí dance the deepest of learnings.
Robert Luis Stevenson and Jules Verne, various South American indigenous myth cycles are given a neural network “style transfer” from Arthur Kroker, Penny Rimbaud, Hakim Bay and the CCRU.
The music is not so much “composed” as “circuit-bent” out of the protocols of today’s communication mesh, one distorted glitch at a time. The ocean, infrastructure of pirates, is ever-present in this sound. An oscillating roiling unsettled continuum from which basses bubble up like the exhalations of voyaging whales. Shoals of analogue sequences shimmy past and are lost again in the dark. A tsunami of static wipes out all before it, leaving only the angry ghosts of the distressed final track.