Dimension Hatröss takes the advances from Killing Technology and moves them even further into craftsmanship and prog excellence. In the Killing Technology band photo and in this one, Blacky had shaved part of his head—which was pretty outrageous for a metal band in the late 80s. It’s just a small visual showing how the band was different from other metal bands.
It also opens with some interesting sounds—a swirling noise that coalesces into a fantastic solid heavy riff—a confident metal riff that is more sophisticated than most of their output already. And then a cool noisy chord from Piggy lets you know that this album is going to be…different. And so it is, a wonderful mix of metal and prog rock chords (and long songs) all used as the background of a sci-fi story of The Voivod. The dissonance is amazing on the album—Piggy is playing chords that seem like they shouldn’t come from a guitar.
“Tribal Convictions” is a little less harsh than “Experiment” and you can really hear Snake has been honing his singing skills. There’s even multiple tracks of vocals (including a deep voice singing along on this track). And there are so many different sections—and the first that stands out on the album is Piggy’s echoed guitars just before the “who’s the God” section. Or the repeated chords that open the fantastic “Chaosmongers”—sounding for all the world like electronic malfunction. And yet for all of the experimentation, the songs are still heavy—the chorus of this song is very fast and full of Away’s noisy splash cymbal. My favorite parts comes at around 2:15 where Piggy plays these great fast chords and Blacky plays a very cool accompanying bass line. Indeed, Blacky’s bass sounds great on this record. And when that riff repeats later in the song, it’s followed by a great concluding section.
“Technocratic Manipulators” is a fast heavy song—a very traditional sounding metal song until the “that’s not for me” comes in with a huge time change that last… for one measure. I love how the song ends with a repeated section of “I’d rather be…” until the final line, “I’d rather…think.”
Then comes one of my favorite Voivod songs with the awesome title “Macrosolutions to Megaproblems.” It opens with some increasingly dissonant chords, but also features some loud chanted singalong sections followed by a ringing guitar solo that sounds like a siren. All within a few seconds of each other. It also has the thoughtful bridge, “You better shake up your mind, coz if you’re just staying blind, integrity you won’t find.” And another super cool dissonant chord sequence on the high notes of the guitar—I don’t know how Piggy thought of these sequences. Just to top it off, the ending sequence is a series of descending chords, each one odder than the last.
“Brain Scan” has a cool riff at the end of each verse that is actually surprisingly major chord bright—amidst the chaos of the rest of the song (more great bass from Blacky and some crazy sounds of a brain scan—Snake’s voice processed?). “Psychic Vacuum” is one of the songs where I have to wonder how they can switch to different sections so fast. “Cosmic Drama” opens with a distant echoic riff and then nothing but heaviness. And yet it keeps up that sci-fi experimental feel. This is one of the great heavy metal records of the 80s. technically brilliant playing, odd time signatures and yet still some really catchy music.
The CD has an addition of the Batman theme song. It’s a very odd addition and has no place on the record, but I’ve always liked it because it is so weird. (It’s also only 1:45).
[READ: August 29, 2013] “Nirvana”
I was apprehensive about reading this story because I tend to dislike Esquire fiction. But Adam Johnson won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for The Orphan Master’s Son (which I haven’t even heard of), so I figured this must be better than the male bonding stories that usually appear in Esquire.
And so it was.
This also happens to be the second stories about a virtual reality President that I’ve read in a few days. How about that.
So this story is set in some kind of future. And in this future the President has been assassinated (and has been dead for three months). The story seems like it is set in the near future (so I kept imagining Obama as the dead President and I wonder if others do too). But something is odd, because the protagonist has been whispering to the President (and evidently the President is talking back to him). However, what’s more significant to the narrator is his wife.
Charlotte has Guillain–Barré syndrome and has been paralyzed from the neck down for nine months (most people recover by then with proper treatment). She has more or less given up hope and the narrator feels that she will try to kill herself (she has a lot of voice activated technology and fears that if she somehow positioned herself in a certain way it could kill her). But she is utterly helpless–she couldn’t even blow a spider out of the way when it dropped from the ceiling into her hair.
Now, nine months in, all she does is listen to Nirvana and occasionally get high. The narrator has never heard Nirvana and doesn’t understand what she sees in Kurt bloody Cobain, but if it makes her happy, he’s okay with it.
So, what is with the whispering President? The narrator works for a technology company in Palo Alto and he has taken an algorithm and made a projector that shows a 3D image of the president (he says it was very easy). It then takes soundbites from his televised appearances and, based on certain words, “responds” to conversations. Within weeks, millions of these were downloaded and people all over the country and the world were “hanging out” with the dead President.
And so the narrator spends a lot of his down time talking with the president, looking for advice. This drives his wife crazy.
There’s also the matter of a small drone craft that has flown into their house (at first I thought it was a political story about drone attacks, but no, it is a small palm-sized surveillance drone. Seems that the Secret Service and others have been watching him since he made the President (he also hasn’t been to work in weeks). The narrator calls his boss who brings him a decoder he is able to take over the drone (which was actually sent by Google) and to control it with Android glasses. This allows Charlotte a few minutes of being able to see the outside world for the first time in months as she controls the drone with the glasses. It’s a very sweet moment.
As is the final moment of the story. There’s no swelling happy ending (and I actually wonder if this will be made into a novel, it has so much unstated information), but there is a lot of tenderness. Which was surprising given the focus on technology and the death of a president. But all of the chaos of the outside world is nothing when compared to how much the man loves his wife.
Might be worth looking for that novel.