Music For An Accelerated Culture
Ah welcome, Hado//fAN#000565. Glad to see you accepted Project Aerials’ invitation. Insert your 16-digit passcode and authorise £24. Press ‘accept’. Congratulations: you’ve joined. You will receive your copy of ‘Music For An Accelerated Culture’ two weeks early. A free T-shirt. Entry to the summer’s 10,000 capacity HadouFest, where you will interact with other cyberfans in the flesh. Twenty per cent off merchandise online and at gigs. Free downloads of all B-sides and rarities “as they surface throughout the year”. Any problems, visit the Customer Service section of the Hadouken! website.
Yep, Hadouken! have a customer service page on their web-like web presence. Whichever side of 22 you’re on and whatever your take on their future-grindie-rave sound is, you can’t argue with one thing: Hadouken! are nothing if not website, future and business savvy. Mixtapes on USB. Guerrilla video premieres. Their own summer festival. Their own online community, set up before those other galloping pioneers. They’re almost militant in their pursuit of “the next hot shit” (© grindie crossover
duo Yes Boss – remember them? Anyone?) in the world of music marketing and brand development.
Of course, all these advancements pose many questions. Do we need record labels? Do we need corporate festivals? How will humanoids process music in the distant future of 2009? Are these elements of progression for the benefit of the fans or for the band’s coffers? Or someone else? Do free downloads with slow bitrates merely act as adverts for boxsets? Why did WWW inventor Tim Berners-Lee give the internet away for free? And why the fuck is this album only coming out now? For all Hadouken!’s many explorations in content delivery, fan interaction and brand exploitation (while they tear shit up and generally make the floor collapse), they’ve remained tied to the most debilitating aspect of the music industry –
the lumbering, three-legged gangrene-ridden beast that is the traditional album release schedule.
‘That Boy That Girl’ cut through the nation’s airwaves like a lightsaber to the cerebral cortex in January 2007, a raspy deconstruction of the UK’s scenesters via the synthy noise of what sounded like the Death Star reverse-parking. And by the time it was released in February with other A-side ‘Tuning In’ added to the package, the post-glowstick Version 2.0 generation was convinced – this time last year they would have been a shoe-in for the top of the Future 50 list. However, opening ‘Music For An Accelerated Culture’ in May 2008, ‘That Boy…’ sounds like a dusty relic. ‘Liquid Lives’ meets with a similar fate. But you’re part of an ‘…Accelerated Culture’, right? You know about those tracks. You’re also well-acquainted with ‘Declaration Of War’ and its sidestep towards emo and ’80s crooning standing substitute for James Smith’s usual growl. We could excuse the excruciating wait for the album if it wasn’t for the fact that their music seems to have taken a step back in the interim.
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In 2007, they were garrotting Bloc Party, giving Plan B synthy leg-ups and rerubbing and remixing most of their own tunes on a breathless 35-minute mixtape that prompted NME to remark “this could well end up being regarded as the ultimate Hadouken! document”. Most of ‘…Accelerated Culture’ does little to contradict that; ‘Mister Misfortune’ lumbers like an intergalactic terrace chant while ‘Driving Nowhere’ sounds like Madonna channelling Enter Shikari but goes nowhere in particular. ‘Spend Your Life’, meanwhile, relies on some Spanish guitar scrobbled from ‘Mi Chico Latino’. Combine this with the Hadouken! beeps and blips and it’s like wandering through The Legend Of Zelda and finding flamenco buskers in a hidden castle. There’s nothing wrong with grabbing scraps of disparate sounds and zipping them together, but even vultures leave the bones.
That’s not to say there’s not a bit worth investigating here. One of the triumphs of the album is the Prodigy ‘Experience’ rip-off rave-up of ‘What She Did’ and its ambulance siren runs up and down the keyboard. Equally as addictive is the old skool mash-up ‘Game Over’. “Your time has been/So fuck you and your precious scene” snarls James in an ironic declaration of independence from time and movements. ‘Get Smashed Gate Crash’ meanwhile, with its “Welcome to our world/We are the wasted youth/And we are the future” chorus, might just be in time to be 2008’s version of that perennial sentiment.
Even if the Hoxton heroes and indie Cindies have moved on, there are plenty of people who could live by this. People accelerate at different speeds. While their MySpace and ringtone reference points are rooted to the minute they first wrote them, Hadouken!’s “Drink! Smoke! Fuck! Fight!” message is timeless.
Trying to live in the future is impossible. The best these (or any budding) futurists can do is live in the moment, or five minutes ago, or, in the case of this album, last February. Hadouken! have already started on their next album. Can we hear it now, please? A CD will be fine.