Toxicity 59

Posted: January 23, 2015 in Toxicity
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Bathed in Blue: Steven Chen of The Airborne Toxic Event. Photo by Creative Copper Images, Oct. 23, 2014, Vancouver, BC.

Bathed in Blue: Steven Chen of The Airborne Toxic Event. Photo by Creative Copper Images, Oct. 23, 2014, Vancouver, BC.

By Glen

Any week in which we get new music from The Airborne Toxic Event is a good week indeed. So let’s get straight to recapping what was a very good week for TATE fans.

Dope Machines UnChained

The shackles have been released – Dope Machines is on the loose!

Rumors of a Feb. 24 on sale date for The Airborne Toxic Event’s new album turned out to be on point, confirmed by the band late last week. On Tuesday, Dope Machines hit iTunes and other digital retailers for the start of the pre-order period. In the process, eager TATE fans were able to get their grubby hands on an early download of the LP’s closing song, “Chains.”

“Chains,” which was premiered on Monday by VH1 (and for which we posted a snap review and lyrics), is described thusly by Mikel Jollett:

I wrote the song on one of the 400 days I spent locked inside working on the record. It’s sort of Los Angeles, about the idea of sprawl, how the great expanse of interconnectivity (physical, digital, social) can make u feel so alone when there’s no center and no edge and no end.

Fan reaction to the track has been almost universally positive, in contrast to the mixed response that the heavily synthesized “Wrong” has received. Though there have been a few dissenters, the overwhelming consensus would seem to indicate that “Chains” has succeeded in its presumed mission to stoke excitement about the album release and spur pre-orders.

In the highly unlikely event that there is anyone in the world who likes the band enough to be reading this article and yet has somehow not heard the song, here’s the audio:

You’re So American… Or Not

When Dope Machines appeared in the iTunes store late Monday evening (yes, Monday – it pays to live in the Pacific time zone), fans were thrilled to see an unexpected eleventh track on the listing: “You’re So American,” which we had earlier posited would be right at home on Dope Machines. Like many fans, I placed my pre-order immediately.

Yesterday, I poked my head back into the virtual shop, only to discover that my pre-order had disappeared. Upon further investigation, the 11-track version of the album was nowhere to be found in the store; it had been replaced by the 10-track album we had all originally expected.

After doing some digging, we were able to confirm that the original posting was a mistake. The 10-track version of the album is the only one that will be available. All pre-orders for the 11-track version have been cancelled outright; if you ordered your copy within the first day or so of it becoming available, you will need to place a new pre-order for the correct version.

The Airborne Toxic Event Dope Machines Cover ArtNude on White

The other major piece of the puzzle to come into focus this week was the album artwork. The first opportunity to see it came Friday when Shazam users were offered the chance for a sneak peek by Shazaming “Wrong.” By Monday, the cover was all over the internet.

The artwork is striking in its simplicity. After I spent entirely too much time developing my theory on what it means, Mikel ended the suspense by explaining it for us:

The cover image for our new record Dope Machines, features a photograph entitled “Nude on White” by innovative Mid century photographer Paul Himmel. I saw his work and immediately was drawn to his use of grain and high contrast to create images that were simultaneously foreign, clearly altered but unmistakably human. I felt it captured the tone of Dope Machines. Himmel was married to another highly influential mid-century photographer named Lillian Bassman. Her work echoed similar ideas: obscured but iconically human.

Paul died in 2009 after 73 years of marriage to Lillian who followed three years later. We contacted the estate and eventually were put in touch with Paul and Lillian’s children who upon learning about the band and our sincere admiration of their parent’s work, graciously allowed us to use Paul’s photograph for our cover art.

I was honored and elated and remain in their debt.

I was quite surprised to learn that the image is 60-odd years old, as I was certain that the woman in the picture was clutching a phone in her right hand. So much for my theory. Even so, when I consider this image in the context of the subject matter of Dope Machines, it strikes me as saying something about how, as we use our magnificent technology to connect with other human beings, we’re only seeing a fuzzy shadow of the persons they truly are, and they us. It is not at all what I was expecting of the album cover, given the spacey, digital feel of the “Wrong” single artwork, and yet it’s entirely fitting.

Meanwhile, the decision to release the artwork through Shazam, much like the choice last week to reveal the track list through an Instagram pic, is another appropriate tie-in to the Dope Machines theme. Unfortunately, the technology isn’t perfect. Some users, including myself initially, were not able to make the sneak peek link appear in Shazam. I thought perhaps it was only available to American users; however, I was eventually able to get it to work using the iPad app. I never did succeed with my iPhone. Regardless, it wasn’t long before the image had spread far and wide.

TIN’s Julie alerted me to a very informative article that explains the critical role that Shazam plays in the music industry today, which sheds some light on why the band chose to use that particular app for the big reveal. Times sure have changed…

Anna in the News

As reported last week, Anna Bulbrook made an appearance on Saturday Night Live last weekend, as a guest musician on Sia’s performance of “Chandelier.” Unfortunately, she was very tough to spot, hidden as she was behind a mime (speaking of changing times). But it sounded lovely.

Meanwhile, axs caught up with Ms. Bulbrook to talk about her new project, The Bulls. Anna says her Airborne bandmates are “being rad” about her new gig, and compares her new role as leading lady to performing with TATE:

Playing songs you have played forever with people you’ve played with forever is like getting on a beloved, familiar train. You get on, the train goes, maybe you have a glass of champagne, then you get off. It’s fun and comfortable and special, all at the same time. But I’ve played with lots of other people and bands over the years, so I’m used to doing things in lots of ways. The giant difference is that in The Bulls, I stand in the middle. Everything is strange and different when you are singing.

Coastline Cancelled

Disappointing news for Florida TATE fans who were looking forward to catching the band in February at the Coastline Festival. The festival has been cancelled due to financial difficulties.

Mikel Named One of Stanford’s Best

Best Paths runs down the top five Stanford alumni in the music industry. Not surprisingly, yer man Mikel cracked the list.

Toxic Gold

When The Airborne Toxic Event hit Coachella in 2013, Baeble Music caught up with Mikel and Daren for a chat, and also captured an intimate private performance of “The Storm” and “Timeless.”

Glen, Fan of The Airborne Toxic EventGlen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.


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