By Jake Lehman
To anyone who says that guitar music is dead in 2018, you haven’t been looking nearly hard enough. Blankscreen are a Toronto-based Post-Punk/Noise trio, known for their huge sound and chaotically energetic live shows. Their newest release (out now on Lunar Architect records), Century EP is a hard hitting, noisy delight, and definitely one of the highlights of the year so far.
The EP starts with the hazy instrumental “Event Horizon II”, the opening sounds of which give one the impression of floating along in some form of spacecraft. As the song progresses, the swirling synths only make that feeling stronger. The track triumphantly crescendos into the next track “Dead Planet” as if to signal our arrival at whatever destination Blankscreen wish to take us to. After the intro’s initial descent, the track suddenly bursts into a Sonic Youth-esque wall of guitars. Lead vocalist Evan Moore begins to tell us a tale of riding on hover-bike through a “glorified old folks community”. Our protagonist describes the ruins they are exploring before cynically remarking that “this is the closest thing to heaven any of them ever got”. As the song progresses, it becomes clear that this Dead Planet could very well be our own, centuries in the future. Visions of irradiated cities crumbling continue to nail the point home. A simple day trip for him; a terrifying parable for the listener. Suddenly, our protagonist’s oxygen tank begins to run out and they must return to their ship before we can get any more answers as to what caused the planet to die; that is before “Ecumenopolis”, the EP’s lead single. The track roars in and takes no prisoners, with imagery of mass death, pollution, cannibalism, and decreasing food & water supplies. The repeated line “it gets hard to breathe” really sells the horror of this apocalypse. The word Ecumenopolis means a planet wide city, so the title of the track, combined with it’s lyrical content, presents the idea that our actions affect the whole planet and not just ourselves. These two tracks together masterfully capture the energy and isolation of adventuring through a wasteland, and the probable cause of it’s creation thanks in part to Moore’s chaotic guitar lines and vocal delivery as well as the impressive rhythm section of Robyn Bond and Sam Reilly.
After the fallout of “Ecumenopolis” comes the more soothing “Rain Over Nylonkong”. Undoubtedly named for the 2008 Time article that tied New York, London and Hong Kong together, the track is the second instrumental on the EP, highlighted by an “Us and Them”-esque saxophone solo. However, unlike Pink Floyd’s “Us And Them” which warns of the consequences of our fighting as a species, “Rain Over Nylonkong” seems to represent the final consequences themselves. As the rain falls, humanity does as well, and the planet slowly follows. The closing track, “Jesus”, seems to show the fate of the humans who were able to escape the planet. The lyrics show that while humanity was able to escape and move further into space (“all of our lunar paths are paved with gold”), technology has created the further isolation of the individual, the new interpretation of Jesus as “a cybernetic organism” and a plea to “save us from ourselves”. It doesn’t matter that the human race survived the death of the planet; we have not learned from our past and seem to be making the same mistakes elsewhere. While some might view this interpretation as cynical, the song does present some sense of hope. We’re not there yet, we can change and avoid such a fate for our species.
In a world where the threat of nuclear war has never been as prevalent in 30 odd years as it is now, Blankscreen’s Century EP has an immediacy and message not often found in modern music. Their musical creativity and storytelling are unmatched by any other underground band in Toronto right now. Definitely check this one out.
Blankscreen’s EP release party is tonight at the Baby G. Info here:
Jake Lehman is an avid music junkie and guitarist in the Toronto-based Shoegaze/Noise band Tonemirror Check them out HERE.