Listeners who find the title of this new Superalma Project album’s opener a bit on the nose can hardly be blamed. “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength” has an obvious resonance in the Age of Trump. But then artists have been quoting George Orwell for decades, convinced that they were living in a modern-day version of the great author’s nightmare.
While it’s clear that democratic institutions are cracking up on multiple continents, it’s a difficult thing to write or talk about without sounding like an alarmist (or worse, unimaginative.)
Igor Almeida’s eighth album can therefore be fairly described as ambitious. Leaning heavily on Orwell’s 1984, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, Dystopian Children is an attempt to connect Almeida’s childhood memories with the worst that CNN has to throw at us.
He pulls it off. These 12 tracks are refined and darkly beautiful. The electronics are sometimes vintage and blunt. At other times, they’re up-to-the-minute contemporary. The mix of the two extremes reminds us that what’s old can be new again, inside and outside music.
There’s a murkiness that comes and goes in the work. This connects directly to Almeida’s reference in the notes to “personal recollections of my childhood.”
Because many of the pieces are short (only five go past three minutes), the album feels like a collage. This too is suggestive of vague, half-forgotten memories. All put together, Dystopian Children is a mesmerizing 34 minutes.
In recent weeks, HBO’s Bill Maher has taken to telling his younger viewers that what Americans are hearing and seeing in The White House is not normal. More of us should take up that cause. Amidst the craziness, one of the great dangers is that young adults assume the current low standards are what they should expect (perhaps even what they deserve) from government.
That genuinely dystopian view could have a corrosive effect on the West and its governance for decades to come. Alarmist perhaps, but important to say just the same.