as some have suspected and speculated about, there is more to my new album Ctrl than meets the eye. i’ve said that Ctrl is a story about a man who can’t have what he most desperately wants because it isn’t real, the journey he goes on pursuing it, and the cost he pays for that journey. i’ve also said that the narrative is a metaphor for culture’s tenuous relationship with technology, the ways we use technology in an attempt to manage our relationships and control our lives, and how i’m concerned that that technology might wind up having more control over us.
but I haven’t yet answered the question posed last june with the release of the SOLA-MI album (the band i started in early 2012 with josh moore and latifah phillips): what is the nexus?
Ctrl was made to tell a larger story, a story that requires a key to unlock and understand it. that key, the ‘nexus’, is the SOLA-MI album itself (which was released for free three full months before the release of Ctrl). Ctrl and SOLA-MI each tell their own stand-alone stories, but were made to go together as one album and one story.
taken separately, Ctrl and SOLA-MI tell two parallel stories: one is the story of a man who is in love with his fantasy life and turns reluctantly to technology to have, inhabit and control his dreams. the other is the story of the first machine ‘waking up’ at the moment of the “singularity” (a moment in the future where computers reach a tipping point, exponentially increasing in processing and power), a pinocchio-like story of a machine wishing to be real and inhabit the world that she can only see from the outside.
essentially, these two characters desperately wish to be where the other is, the man wanting to be fully immersed in the virtual world, and the machine wishing to be real and make meaningful choices.
even the production and songwriting of these two albums was crafted as a seamless listening experience. in order to hear the combined Ctrl+SOLA-MI album, create a playlist inserting the SOLA-MI album (not including the first track, entitled ‘keynote’) into the middle of the Ctrl album, between tracks 7 (‘i feel everything’) and 8 (‘reanimate’). it should look like this:
in the greater metaphor of our relationship with technology, i see two possible outcomes. one has us coming to our senses, having meaningful conversations about placing guardrails around the technology in our lives, considering the creation sacred spaces where technology is not allowed, and ‘waking up’ to our responsibilities of self-control regarding our use of technology. this is the message of the three-act Ctrl story alone.
but there is an alternate ending that is created by inserting the missing fourth act. with SOLA-MI, the ending changes, speculating about a scenario where we succumb completely to the technology we believe is improving and making our lives more efficient, and opening the door for something that we don’t completely understand and cannot control.
i hope the Ctrl+SOLA-MI album plays some small part in starting these conversations, along with the writing and speaking of people like sherry turkle and wendell berry (whom i commend to you). it’s not too late to slow down for a moment, disconnect, and look each other in the face, to make meaningful choices about the role we wish technology to play in our lives. some things simply take time and are worth our attention. i sincerely appreciate yours.
get Ctrl at your favorite retailer:
download the SOLA-MI album for FREE to complete your Ctrl+SOLA-MI album
download the complete lyrics for both albums