Audio Pervert’s Extinction paints a bleak future borne from bad decisions.
The Indian electronic space has blazed a trail in almost record time, the inclusive movement garnering a following that recognises the trappings of such music for what they are. Constantly fanning those flames for over a decade, Samrat Bharadwaj aka Audio Pervert is no stranger to walking on them either; the artist has consistently put out mature, far-reaching material. Perhaps none more politically-driven than Extinction.
Samrat takes a stab at political dance music, occasionally interplaying his minimal techno with speeches from present day activists. Talking the talk, the artist has pledged proceeds from sales towards climate justice and environmental activism.
"I was born in that breath of recognizing that they might be more powerful than you are, that they might have more technology than you have, they might think that they are wiser than you, they might control all of the institutions, but you control your mind, and that is what sets you free.”
These words, from United States Congress Rep. Ilhan Omar, kicks off the first track ‘Born’, and points towards the album's overarching theme of fighting for justice. The audio - taken from a recent Omar speech asking for, amongst other things, the impeachment of benevolent mop Donald Trump - is bookended by a continuous cyclical rhythm, an ever-consuming blob that feeds on synth swells, unchanged in its chugging along.
Announced as a “reactionary outcome to the on-going sacrifice of the ecosystem and the planet for the continuation of industrial civilisation”, the album moves on to “Never Too Small” - a track punctuated by the poignant words of 15-year old Greta Thunberg during her address at the United Nations’ COP24 conference. The ambient synths create an underlying pathos in the girl’s words, a call-to-arms to stand up and make a difference, make a change. The song ups its intensity towards the end, climbing towards a climactic crescendo, putting Greta’s words from and centre: "If a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together."
On title track ‘Extinction’, Samrat switches up the talking for some classic techno instrumentation, creating a slow-burner that has pad swells and malleable arpeggios criss-crossing each other. Things take a more aggressive turn with the grimy ‘Omnicide’, the album’s longest track: an atonal melody ascending and descending seemingly with no beginning or end, ambient tinklings now replaced with sinister bass hooks that pulse and throb with murderous intent.
So far, the album reads as announced, a reminder of the havoc being wreaked on the environment and society as a whole; morose instrumentation breaking for a moment to bring beauty to the surface.
Activism and music are common bedfellows, but it takes a special something to stamp a wordless statement. On album closer ‘Post Extinction’, Samrat shifts gears and lays down a swung beat with some mean arpeggiation, creating a sombre finale to an album peddling hope all along.
As far as being political goes, the album maybe lands softer punches than intended. The sample choices, while involving current activists and being part of the zeitgeist, are maybe too far-removed from everybody’s headspace to make a meaningful difference - if that is indeed this album’s purpose, which it seems to be. They are safe bets, rather than pointed fingers. Maybe look for inspiration closer to home, even though it may be a potential minefield.
The musical choices though, are stellar. Samrat weaves a brush with such experience, completely in control of the listener’s experience, their journey through this album. Expansive ambience is a balm that soothes the album’s fiery disposition, giving way to primal pulses with the listener left with little to do but dance their way out.