inbuilt obsolescence – These Hands Do What They Can
inbuilt obsolescence is a retrofuturistic musical exploration from indie singer-songwriter and guitarist Owain Arthur, an avant-garde musical style layering loop pedals upon loop pedals in what is probably alt-J’s final form to create a massive musical environment that is a bit jarring at first, but I’ve really come to appreciate the musical quality of it all. The project’s name is allegorical statement to how we cannot resist the agency that electronic music gives us in music=making so it dominates every indie field in the evolution of music, the inbuilt obsolescence of human hands to what a computer is capable of. It practices every drop of what it preaches, creating what is possibly the most audio rich soundscape I’ve ever heard, just absolutely incapable of being replicated acoustically.
Making use of heavy production, distortion and layering, Owain creates what one would assume is disconcerting, but instead has you floating in a psychedelic trance of intricately constructed music layers whose purpose is their multiplicity. It is not unlike the immense amount of cultural information we have to navigate everyday, the bustling noises of metropolitan life that have to be muted and regulated so that you can make some phenomenological meaning with your experience. Similarly, you find yourself tuning into specific layers over other ones as your focus travels around the track, giving it a sense of narrative harmony with its message.
In my opinion, the music still has to come from somewhere human, and the song negotiates just that fine balance between writing songs and making loops. It’s got a little spoken word bit, relating to the title of the track – These Hands Do What They Can. Despite the raw technique being unrepeatable by human hands, the evocation of the music itself is irreplaceable.
[The track is] relentless improvisation over repetitive but intriguing changes. Spoken word over the top is a confessional concerning the pressures of modern life, and how we can respond to them.
I have to commend IO’s journey into indie electronic pop and emerging with an interesting statement about the state of the industry as well as the human condition. It’s a genuinely lovely track, so do stay with it for a bit – its unorthodoxy is its strength.
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