Review: Ermes Marana – Ransom Note (self-released, Apr 26)

To whomever deserves to be so inclined,

We are being held captive in an undisclosed location. Below is a list of demands that are to be fulfilled within specified deadlines. If our wishes are not respected, we’ll have our rations cut, and we will burn the deed to our estate. The implications we refer to are as real as pain. If, however our demands are met in a timely manner we’ll be able to relinquish our captors of their duties and transfer the funds directly to your bank account. Furthermore, instructions to the locations of the incriminating photos will be sent to an unspecified mailing address.

The repeating sample that frames the unsettling, nested interview threads of “What Does the Future Mean to You?” instructs anyone within earshot to both “listen closely” (once) and “listen again” (thrice), the irony of course being that Ransom Note consistently seems to mock the very idea of anyone actually hearing it. Much like Rich Teenager’s similarly brilliant Sardanapalus, the first public message received from the captive(s?) known as Ermes Marana is a multimedia tract of surreal, bleak late-capitalist tedium—the kind of “posthumanism” that doesn’t give the silicon dung-heaps of humankind the dignity of having any sense made of it. Worthless samples loop ad nauseam, news broadcasts and self-help tapes melt together in a flaming trashcan, radio grabs collapse into noxious clumps of noise. Many more comparisons could be made based on the way the album plays with speech and electronics on surface level, but none would capture the cynicism, paranoia, and total detachment that radiate from the void at its core. Music that makes you wish you never learned what a wish was. “…that’s the real fear, right?”

Stream/download lossless files here. I have been told a physical edition was in the works; when I know more info I will update “whomever deserves to be so inclined.”

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