Otto Rank, a psychoanalyst, wrote a book called The Trauma of Birth basically because of the intense violent, and sudden separation of our Mother; the lingering effects of birth is one of the underlying reasons for our anxieties, neurosis, and defects. If we take Collection of Dead Soul’s album’s name “CAPITALISM IS PUNISHMENT FOR BIRTH,” it suggests a larger more universal experience, and whose sonic landscape paints a darker image of our current times than most albums I’ve listened to for awhile.
So now I’ve dug myself into a hole and now I have to explain how an electronic ambient album relates to both being born, and the socio-political issues we face during our times– so allow me to elaborate. Collection of Dead Soul’s bio states, “Experimental soundscapes made while homeless and traveling across America. Made on an iPad in an effort to keep ahold of my sanity.” So with that bio, and my own personal experiences; it’s hard not to see the pain of a someone going through economic struggles. If you want an honest, insightful look into what it was like in the 21st century–of what it meant to hold up certain ideals and only to see them dashed before your very eyes–this would be the album to listen to.
COMING FOR YOU if we were going by psychoanalytic terms would be the period in the womb. The best way to describe the soundscape of this track, is to imagine holding a seashell to your ear, but instead of hearing your pulse or blood vessels pumping, you hear electronic noises. The electronic hum of the TV promising you one thing, and then reality giving you another. Every now and then you hear glitches, distortion, glimpses into the real world that it is not like what the TV tells you it is. Yet at the same time it’s strangely comforting. Even when technology advances and we’re given access to the internet–to the free flow of information–we all tend to seek out things that comfort us.
The next song, following this psychoanalytic approach would be the actual birth. THE CHILD has an atonal synth landscape, and starting out the beat is less a drum than an electronic glitch that seems to be muffled when covered by some organic ooze. An occasional drum beat takes over the track, but it’s short lived, like the stamping out of any trace of humanity by something far less than human. It’s this synthesis of electronic and organic elements that really sets up the creepiness of this track; with it’s sterile feel, and frantic drumming. Yet the trauma isn’t so much any synth, drumbeat, or sound from the track–as it is the combination of all these elements that create a traumatic environment. The trauma being this electronic world we live in.
This scene in The Matrix does a really good job of illustrating the thematic elements of what I mean by this track. Cypher knows that everything he desires is an illusion. It’s a system of control–yet he still wants to be apart of it. Likewise when we realize the false promises given to us by media, or find out that the things we held dear turned out to be false–what do we do? We go right back to it. Listen to music that makes us good, watch movies that make us feel good, go on internet forums that validate our own opinions etc. It’s all the same we go straight back into that electronic womb.
So the situation sounds kind of dire right? Well Collection of Dead Soul’s isn’t done just yet. One of the most frightening and intimidating tracks on CAPITALISM IS PUNISHMENT FOR BIRTH is THE CHILD’S DREAMS. The track starts off with a sinister electronic ambience that’s almost overwhelming, like an electronic black mass. Then you hear the electronic drum beats, beating almost like you’re part of some tribal ritual.
Carl Jung wrote extensively on the interpretation of dreams and religious symbolism. Jung saw the collective unconscious as a helper, to help someone overcome some struggle in their lives, that humanity collectively as a whole had experienced. Here in THE CHILD’S DREAMS , there is only the electronic unconscious. This consciousness is no helper. It’s an atomizer of individuals. Where all your conscious thoughts are typed into a URL, which are used for companies to sell you something you don’t need. It’s a cycle of consumerism; in which a corporation creates a desire within someone using media, make that person desire it so much that they sell their identity to become an anonymous individual for corporation X, pay them only enough to survive, and then give them the opiate drip of media which causes them in turn to desire to consume. It’s a cycle that never ends. God isn’t dead, he’s just been digitized. Instead of religious traditions, we have consumerist traditions. Instead of baptism we have psychiatry, instead of a rite of passage we have your first car, instead of visions we have Joe Rogan’s DMT, instead of life we have work, and instead of death we have debt.
Yet this album isn’t without hope. THE STRUGGLE OF SURVIVAL can be seen as a happy track. It’s the rebellion against this environment we find ourselves in; the synths are so sharp but yet you can’t feel an intense feeling of catharsis. It’s abrasive yet at the same time, uplifting. Like when you win in a fight and you limp away with a bloody nose. THE STRUGGLE OF SURVIVAL is by no means a victory march, but it is the closest we can get to a victory, and any victory no matter how small is a victory nevertheless. Yet with each class of the cymbal, you can only take so many blows, until finally you succumb. The once abrasive rebellious synths descend into a quiet background noise, as the electronic distortion over takes the track, then we surrender in defeat.
The next track can only be truly seen as heartbreaking. DREAMS DESTROYED is more reflective than the prior tracks. This track could be seen as adulthood, and it’s only in adulthood can we see with clear eyes that what we once believed to be obtainable–to be unobtainable. The synths in this track reminds me of the mobiles above a child’s crib, that plays lullabies, and rocket ships circle around causing the baby to fall into a trance and then sleep. Yet as everything else in this album, it’s shrill abrasive, yet it’s sincere. As though the human element wasn’t a factor in this electronic world we live in. As the uplifting, sincere, synths play this uplifting melody in the track it’s only decimated by the distorted ambient noises. Like a baby being smothered to death in it’s crib. It’s with this that we really see–that with all of our desires being pre-programmed into us–that they’re impossible to obtain. We all cherished those dreams as much as we cherished a child, and yet it’s taken from us. And as any parent who lost a child can tell you, nothing hurts more than the loss of your own child.
THE BROKEN YEARS can be seen as this album’s version of “the golden years.” Where people in their old age reminiscence about their youth, and all the joy and happiness they had. Yet as the name entails it’s not so much golden as it is broken. The track is the happiest, and most accessible of all tracks on CAPITALISM IS PUNISHMENT FOR BIRTH. It’s almost like a dance song, but it just sounds broken. Like an EDM producer playing a set where all the music is correct, but the equipment is all wrong, the machines are sparking up, and are catching on fire. It’s as though the golden years in this album aren’t a source of happiness, but that of regret. Of things that could have been but never were. Yes there was happiness in the moment way back then, but at the present that happiness is gone–all that remains is regret. And that regret changes the way you perceive that happiness you had in the past, and you see the happiness for what it was–broken. For we’re not cogs in a machine, we’re human beings. And as human beings we weren’t meant to be in this digitized world, yet here we are.
Collection of Dead Soul’s CAPITALISM IS PUNISHMENT FOR BIRTH is a very emotional album. One that I’d suggest anybody listen to. It’s abrasiveness, harshness, and even expressions of the human will is the perfect album to showcase the 21st Century man’s plight. Where the things he consumes starves him, so he consumes more of the things that cause him to starve.
For it’s incredible sound and unique perspective I give this album my recc.