As much as we appreciate all of the track-by-track commentaries that we’ve run over the past few years, self-titled especially loves the ones that took a lyrical approach–anecdotes that are abstract rather than a literal “and then we did this” breakdown of what went down in the studio. Case in point: the trail of metaphorical bread crumbs that Roll the Dice left behind while divulging some of the bleak themes that drive In Dust, a must-listen for anyone who’s ever wanted to watch a 21st century version of Metropolis; one that’s been scored by Vangelis, John Carpenter and Emeralds.
1. Iron Bridge
Aching feet shuffle across the horizon. Any green flickers of new life have begun to disappear from the landscape, replaced by rocks caked with grime. Any promise that remained before leaving the old world behind has vanished, replaced by a vague sense of trepidation. The maw of the Iron Bridge beckons, and in the distance, a rising glow of synthetic light.
2. Calling All Workers
Every morning it’s the same: get in uniform, get in line, start the day as one of the masses. We only just arrived and already we’re already being assimilated into the routine of this new world, taunted by all its frustrations and lack of resolution. But our minds are elsewhere, still searching for the next stage of this journey.
3. Idle Hands
But there is still something strangely involving about this. Even as the idea of an outside world becomes harder to fathom, and the monotony of these tasks begins to numb the mind, there is an underlying sense of gratification and reward. Once we begin to work, it is oddly difficult to imagine stopping.
The machine has powered up and the air is thick with the massed presence of the workforce. Patterns of bodies assemble and disassemble according to some enigmatic logic, impossible to control and hard to resist. As these collective behaviors become established it becomes harder to pick ourselves out as individuals from the whole. The sense of self begins to diminish, and we lose our identities in the fray, cloaked in thick layers of dust and grime.
5. Dark Thirty
Our bodies ache, and our hands are scratched and caked with soot. Imaginations are jarred by the day’s imagery, and instead of giving release sleep only serves to draw us deeper into this nightmare. Before long the dawn is approaching, and still minds work overtime, conjuring up repeat iterations of the same day over, and over, and over. When we wake with a start, it’s hard to tell whether this new morning is reality, or merely a further level down into the dream.
6. The Skull Is Built Into the Tool
The real and astral worlds have become interwoven, and as it becomes more difficult to separate the two, so it becomes harder to resist the pull of the everyday trudge. Our bodies remain hard at work; grease and soot still cake our clothes and fingers, but we’re not entirely there. Most of the time, we’re somewhere else. Perhaps thinking about sleeping later–but knowing that it promises little but more of the same.
“I’m not quite sure what’s happening… It’s the end of the day, everyone else has left, and all I can hear is wind whistling through abandoned machines, and the distant roar of furnaces downstairs. They’re starting to sound more and more like human voices, keeping me company in the dark.”
8. The Suck
The voices of the factory gradually begin to harmonize, and our own voices start to join in. The song is a sad one, but not entirely devoid of hope. Something’s shifting–each morning we wake feeling a little less resistant than the day before, and these changes don’t jar.
9. Cause and Effect
The rhythms of the machine leave space for wandering thought. As the body adapts to a routine way of being, the mind once again has time to contemplate. To begin to understand the nature of this place and how it ended up here. And ultimately, how it might escape.
10. Way Out
We seem to have spent forever trapped in this looped life, with little end in sight. Perhaps we were wrong to imagine a physical route out of this world. Instead, becoming more involved in its patterns offers a chance of redemption, a light gleaming at the end of a long tunnel. We are coming closer to that knowledge.
11. See You Monday
Every morning it’s the same: get in uniform, get in line, start the day as one of the masses. But now there’s bliss in these repetitive cycles. The journey here has been arduous, its promise gradually worn away. But in exchange has arrived something else. We are beginning to embrace the rhythms of the machine.