A Sonic Meltdown: A Review on "I Love Nuclear!?"

by on Friday, 08 February 2013 Comments

The Fukushima nuclear tragedy in March 2011 sparked a global discussion on nuclear energy in the 21st century. This question was discussed with particular vigour in Japan's neighbor Taiwan, a seismically unstable island with a voracious appetite for energy. 

Opposition to nuclear power in Taiwan is not new. Former movie star and spiritual author Terry Hu's involvement with campaigns in the early 1990s is but one high profile example and eRenlai has probed the issue here. The Fukushima incident, Taiwan's ageing reactors and the ongoing construction of a fourth nuclear plant have coalesced a range of social responses in recent years. In this context, the underground electronic artists behind I Love Nuclear!? have come taken nuclear power as an "object of criticism as well as a space for introspection". Their music "is foregrounded against nuclear power as well as the craziness and absurdity revolving around it". The result is a bouncy, glitchy electronic nightmare. But a well-meaning nightmare, as the music was contributed free of charge and organisers will donate profits to the Green Citizens' Action Alliance for Anti-Nuclear Purposes.

Unlike the majority of electronic music compilations, I Love Nuclear!? is not structured around a single easily identifiable sonic template. Metal riffs and lurking psytrance grate against bleak industrial beats. Lush ambience leads to the familiar throb of house. The unifying theme is a dark audial portrayal of the confusion and fear that nuclear power generates. The contrasting styles employed by the artists could be seen as the various phases of the nuclear issue - development, progress, protest, decay, meltdown, destruction, apocalypse, mutation. Just as the various styles of music are all 'electronic', so too are the moods evoked all 'nuclear'.

I Love Nuclear!? appears to have been compiled not as an enjoyable listening experience or something to shake your booty to, but as more of an experiment in letting music generate a palpable sense of the unease and imminent danger so inherent in nuclear power. In the interests of fairness I have given each track a 140 character summary. Tweet style, yo. 

ilovenulcear 01
The poster that is enclosed in the CD

1. 只是魚罐 It’s Just Canned Fish by Blackbells

Spooky looped distorted vocals. Gradually building dread. A faux-ambient portent for the warped digital tunes to follow.

2. 機器人的烏托 The Utopia Of Androids by Vice City

Am I in Düsseldorf circa 1991? The tinny bass drum üm-tish üm-tishes into some floating synths. Even if your skin is peeling off from nuclear flash burns you’ll still be able to slo-mo shuffle to this.

3. 美帝的禮 A Gift from the American Empire by Iang

Ethno-ambience morphs in and out of power-chord laden psytrance metal. If you put a mic next to a drum of radioactive waste it sounds like this.

4. 沒有人反 Nobody’s Against Nuclear Power by Yao

Minimalist pops and bleeps and buzzing bass. Tinnitusinal outro. Relatively easy listening. Thanks Yao.

5. 怪獸電力公 Monsters, Inc. by Aul

Like a electroencephalogram attached to Mike Wachowski's brain or a malfunctioning nuclear plant alarm, this track will drive you cRäzY.

6. 那天春天寧靜的 Remember the Silent Sea that Spring by Koala 

Classic psytrance, the most danceable track thus far. Your getaway music for when the reactor overheats and becomes unstable.

7. 台電的移動城 Taipower’s Moving Castle by MAD+N ft. Troy

Epic synths, glitchy paranoia, soothing piano and an uber-gloomy finale. I love it.

8. 我如何學著停止煩惱並愛上炸彈 How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb by Roweing

More retro Euro-beats and arrhythmic percussion. Claustrophic and nauseating. Kubrick would be proud.

9. 黑色狂歡派 Dance to the Scam by Betty Apple

Betty gets funky and then freaks out, scooping out your brain and filling it with digital detritus and toxic gloop.

10. 黃色蛋 Yellow Cake by VARO

I think Varo is some sort of post-nuclear mutant, that's the only way he/she could compose this. Just as it starts feeling comfortable, the music gets weird. Again.

11. 都是為了世界和 It’s All For The Peace Of The World by TJ Zhang

No beats here. Just a surreal conversation between two mutants scavenging the remains of Taiwan’s Longmen reactor 500 years in the future. One chanting a baritone mantra, the other whimpering and quivering like a scared guinea pig. 

12. 讓你瘋狂的要 I Want You to Want Me by 灰雁

The piano is all Summer of Love 1989. I can see the yellow smiley faces and goofily grinning ravers. But the glow sticks they are waving are actually spent nuclear rods. 

13. 核廢永久遠、一噸永流 A Family Heirloom by Alöis

Static and eerie, this is the sound of Geiger counters scouring the ruins and scorched earth, finding nothing but death. The legacy of Sector 7-G.

14. 進化特 Evolution by Tech Yes

Industrial chaos. Your mum will hate it. The most challenging track here ends in a crescendo of static. The discordant ripping of a scratched CD evoking the death thralls of an earthquake-shattered reactor.

I Love Nuclear is a unique aural representation of how the complexities of nuclear power in 21st century Taiwan might be understood. It is not always easy listening. But since when did a nuclear meltdown sound good?

For samples, you can check out http://i-love-nuclear.bandcamp.com/album/i-love-nuclear-preview


Note from the editor:

The album (250 NTD) can be purchased in the following locations...

Taipei - RE caféLuguo caféSpecies RecordsIndimusic RecordsThe GoodsMyHome多麼 Cafe+Vicious Circle

Taichung - 小路映画

Kaohsiung - Booking

Others – Lacking Sound Festival or buy on internet 

Paul Farrelly (范寶文)

Paul is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University in Canberra. His primary research interests are new religious movements and religious innovation in China and Taiwan.

Website: twitter.com/paul_farrelly

Help us!

Help us keep the content of eRenlai free: take five minutes to make a donation

AMOUNT: 

Join our FB Group

Browse by Date

« December 2018 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31            

We have 4096 guests and no members online