Sunday, February 03, 2008

A review of the current Dominion Radio mix by DJMX

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Review: SubCreature

Dominion Radio’s SubCreature mix begins with a delightfully dark sample from
Hodge’s 1980's version of Flash Gordon. Ordinarily, this is a film I’ve
long written off, but what a mistake on my part. True, I’ve got the whole Sith
empire as my psychological crutch, my little shield against the big, bad world. But where
did it all start? Well, with the original Flash Gordon comic strip version off course,
but the strength and focus of the SubCreature mix woos me to say: the uber
sexiness of Max Von Sydow’s imperial voice.

And Max is a tone setter of dark tone setters.
It’s a dark side thing, light-siders just don’t understand.

Selecting Ming the Merciless as the opener (an opening that seeks to gracefully
bombard your ears with otherworldly fear, corruption, and dominion), DJ Mistress
X firmly invites us to leave the shackles of this reality (a reality mired in the blood of Iraq
and a totally fucked over infrastructure) and look through the otherworldly lens
of a thoroughly dystopian musical narrative. True, listeners of Dominion
Radio are already attuned to such delicacies, it’s what we come for in the
first place, and DJMX’s newest mix doesn’t let us down.

Ming’s xenophobic tone proves to be only our jump station, our hub where
we surrender our passports, close our eyes, and cue up Ming the Merciless,
attuning our minds to his specific brand of menace. And then, just as we
feel we are synced up to the film (and wait patiently to hear more from that
wonderfully sinful camp classic), we find ourselves falling into the void of
the Muse, into the bubbling chaos (and it’s a creatively controlled chaos)
of Euterpe and Melpomene’s realm ( the muse of music, and the muse of tragedy).

Bleeding in effortlessly, picking up the tone and message of the Ming
inset, “Civilization” by Angels in Agony slips us away from a warm blooded
adversary to a decidedly colder, android perspective. The charm here is the shift. Due
to the intricate weavings of the mix, the charm isn’t ruined by matching the wrong
song to the right intro. Without skipping a beat, DJMX quickly plunges her aural
addicts back into her lair of velvety darkness with surgical flair.

Society, when viewed from such a chilled perspective implied in “Civilization” (and this
is highly subjective on my part), is a series of ones and zeros, the cold whirr of gizmos and
the hot jolt of gel-circuitry. Angels in Agony reminds us that while we utilize mechanical constructs,
and whiz toward the creation of self-conscious machines, we are conceivably trapping
ourselves in a Mary Shelley style labyrinth, one in which our creations may turn out to be
butchering monsters--the true reflections of our shadow-selves.

I think this point is very clear in the lyrics. For example, the tone
of “when the moon was ours before the machines wiped our souls
when our hearts stopped pumping” is clearly apocalyptic, and decidedly
mythic in scope. Ingeniously, Angels in Agony demands its “moon” to be a
universal symbol of grandeur, human wonder, and warmth (keeping in
alignment with the moon’s traditional feminine hue), and that’s the
understated tragedy. Though we hold the tender feminine in our
grasp, we crush it by creating a perfect (or is it imperfect) android mind incapable
of understanding such subjective truths. In this way, we arrive at the
horrific theme of the song, a theme that rubs our noses in the story of
human genius turned ironically on itself. Instead of being satisfied with the
feminine mysteries of the moon (that splendorous domain of Hecate and
the dark feminine), we cash in for the cyber-erotic, selling out to the vanity
of narcissistic masturbation instead of fulfillment in the human dynamic. And
the song reminds us that there’s a dark sexuality in being suddenly
dominated by one’s own creation, that same homoerotic theme that Victor
Frankenstein ran away from so desperately in Ms. Shelley’s novel. Ironically,
that theme catches up to humanity when our own creations reformat us--“the machines
wiped our souls.”

What a fascinating catastrophe.

The ending of the song is just as powerful as its beginnings mainly because of its
insistence on a synthesis of feelings, four strong feelings set to an oddly attractive
free verse ramble that makes sense the more times you chant it:


“Degenerate” reminds us that an android based civilization (and this is based
entirely upon my quirky perspective) is something made from ice, the cold
ice that logic, or the mindset of the military-industiral complex, depends upon for its
“destructive directive.” Line two’s “Dimension” demonstrates its own
potent appeal; it’s the small word in the song whose roots undermine the entire
platform. The dimension of the android is arguably the cosmos it inherits from
its fallen masters; but focus in tighter, and “dimension, destructive, directive” gains
more friction as it rubs against our present day worries over expansionist trends,
especially the variety of invasive expansionist trends from the slumbering America
who has strangely become more like Shelley’s Daimon than anything else (though
no “true American” would admit to such a viewpoint). Seriously, who needs another
McDonald’s in China or another square inch in Iraq? And this is the type of cultural
overthrow the song is describing. The android infestation of “Civilization” is horrible
only because we know of other cold minded infestations present in the world
now. Whether the group meant for the song to be read this deeply is up for debate,
but when placed against the backdrop of SubCreature and Ming the Merciless, this
particular reading of it seems appropriate.

“Civilization” and the SubCreature mix drives us hard against the wall of technological
irony and its implied moral lessons. We ought to fear not only the civilization of cold android
minds that may enslave us, but the minds in our own “Civilization” who are driving us toward
one nightmare or another (presently, we have plural dooms, all we need do is kick it up a
notch one way or the other). As a chip in the mosaic of DJMX’s mix, “Civilization”
fulfills Ming the Merciless, and the mix (whether on purpose or not) leaves us in the chill wake
of deeply disturbing questions, which of course, are requirements for dystopian
fans everywhere. This is why SubCreature rocks my brain...

You can listen to SubCreature here:

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