Netherlands have been cranking out their psych-prog-sludge-pop since 2012, and new album Zombie Techno, out June 26 via Record and Tapes Records, contains some of their greatest work to date.
Somewhere between the colossal weight of the Melvins, the sugary hooks of Torche, the gleeful drama of Rush, and the absurdism of Frank Zappa, Netherlands’ singular sound lies. Falsetto vocals, brain-quaking synth-bass, manic guitar shred, and martial drumming combine in supremely weird, catchy songs that rage and groove to the beat of a rapidly accelerating doomsday clock.
Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Timo Ellis (an ex-member of Cibo Matto and collaborator of Yoko Ono) has been warning about humanity’s unsustainable ways since Day One—his critiques of modern society are scathing. Here’s his track-by-track breakdown of the record.
The title track, a dark, funky, trancey number about internet addiction, about how we’re all self-hypnotized and ultra-mediated by all the platforms and our devices, and how (IMO) our mass consciousness is being deeply coarsened and degraded by it (*also has a rad vocoder lead vocal and somehow genetically reminds me of MJ’s “Thriller”).
An alternately bruising and rueful meditation on the banality of evil, detailing how easy it is for us all to get entirely sucked in to dependencies on systems we find to be morally repugnant, and the attendant denial/moral gymnastics required to even function at all with these (authoritarian) systems, and musically, like Rage Against The Machine meets Scott Walker meets salsa.
A lurching, moody track which could be described as the soundtrack of a misanthrope’s gradual descent into madness—for fans of Elliot Smith, NoMeansNo, Wu Tang.
A relentless/punishing math-y post punk number about how the algos will eventually know us all way better than we could possibly know ourselves while also gradually making large swaths of the human population redundant and irrelevant (+ also includes more fun vocoder vocals).
This song could be described as the mutant child of a Russian renaissance fair and a monster truck rally with a save-the-Earth theme—I’ve definitely never made (or even heard?) a song quite like this before.
A pommeling, hard psych instrumental/tribal-esque drum banger evoking drunk flying, exuberant aliens (are they benevolent?? and even if they are, um, that spaceship still seems dangerously out of control.)
This Time My Broken Heart Stays Open
An epic doom-synth/sludge power ballad bemoaning humanity’s thus far inability to truly comprehend how grave the already underway environmental mega-catastrophe really is … and for me, the emotional heart of the record.
We’re All Gonna Die One Day
Big Star meets Melvins meets Noam Chomsky aka the runaway feel good/bad hit of summer 2020! A scathing yet still sugary call to arms to rescue the Earth’s remaining life support systems from oblivion. (Also, everyone please stop eating industrially mass-murdered animals ASAP.)
Contrary to every humanist impulse underpinning all our endeavors, everything is actually not going to be alright. FIN.