Time Out of Mind
Three new albums offer visions of the future, but are any of them realistic? And how do they compare with the grandpappy of dystopian discs, Rush's 2112? The New York Times' futurist-in-residence -- it is too a job! -- Michael Rogers weighs in.
CONCEPT: After losing a space war in 2062, Earth falls under the oppressive rule of the alien priests of Syrinx, who censor art and music. One day in 2112, a human finds a guitar and starts to play. The aliens smash his ax and an even bigger space war ensues! FUTURIST SAYS: “The narrative is fabulous. But the anti-art, religion-driven autocracy is similar to what we have on Earth now. If that continues, we’ll destroy ourselves before we achieve the interstellar travel that’s implied here.” WE SAY: No guitars? Aliens who sing like someone set their phasers to “castrate”? Cancel that appointment at the cryogenics lab.
Nine Inch Nails, Year Zero
CONCEPT: Terrorists plant a dirty bomb at the 2009 Oscars and the U.S. retaliates with nuclear strikes against Iran and North Korea, kicking off World War III. The government spikes our water supply with a drug it claims negates the effects of bioterrorism. FUTURIST SAYS: “The international scenarios are quite plausible. It’s unlikely that terrorists could get a dirty bomb into the theater, but that’s exactly what a good jihadist would aim for.” WE SAY: Silly Trent — bombs don’t make it to the Oscars!
Klaxons, Myths of the Near Future
CONCEPT: The good news: These nü-ravin’, glow-stick-wavin’ Brits claim this loose narrative is the first part of a three-album cycle. The bad news: Thanks to the band’s belief in psychic Edgar Cayce’s theory that the apocalypse will arrive in 2012, there isn’t much future to sing about. FUTURIST SAYS: “I think 2012 is definitely early for the world to be ending, but Klaxons get bonus points for bringing raves back. We forget how often the future repeats the past.” WE SAY: If raves are truly coming back into style, these are gonna be five long years.
Satellite Party, Ultra Payloaded
CONCEPT: A group of environmentalists and musicians (and Fergie) resolve to stop global warming. They have a party aboard a space station and, somehow, Jim Morrison shows up. He sings a song and tells them to do something about the melting ice caps. Or…something. Hey, remember “Mountain Song”? FUTURIST SAYS: “Global warming will be the big issue for the next 20 years. Droughts, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes — they’ll all get worse. Can rock stars help? Bono, maybe. Jim Morrison, I’m not so sure about.” WE SAY: If the cover is any indication, people in the future don’t know how to use Photoshop. LANE BROWN