We are fucked. The bloated corpse of the egalitarian dream has long since been devoured by ravenous plutocrats. The democratic process that Western society is so proud of has become so corrupted and abused that it is being hijacked by huge corporations and hostile foreign governments. Western societies seem determined to focus their gaze longingly backward unaware of the raging fireball coming straight at them.
In this third in his series of EPs Rupert Clervaux aka CVX, explores the perilous times in which we live through the words of various thinkers and critics who have often challenged the assumptions and presumptions of the systems that hold society in place. Clervaux cleverly links these warning and criticisms to the here and now, inviting the listener to question the status quo all over a varied musical backing that ranges from electro-jazz to Detroit techno.
The opener, “Protesta Humana” is built on rhythmic percussion anchored by a bass drum and shocks of piano that seem to freeze in the air. That is followed by “Fleurs Pour Simone, part 1” which is far more tranquil. Backed by light, avant-garde, jazz piano, and double bass Coline Cornélis recites, in French, two important excerpts from Simone Weil’s essay On the Abolition of All Political Parties published in 1943. The use of Weil’s essay is particularly pertinent in the post-truth era where government cooperation, voter manipulation and the rise of populism challenge the nature of multi-party democracy itself. In her essay, she argues that the key role of the government is to communicate the “general will” of society as a whole and its members should not be interested in pursuing private interests. An idea that seems sadly ludicrously Utopian in the era of multi-millionaire politicians.
“Every Tyrant in History” loops the line “I hate government / I hate power” over minimalist electronic backing and live drums like a Dada-esque Public Service Broadcasting. The quote itself is taken from an interview with British journalist and mordant, social critic Malcolm Muggeridge who passed away in 1990. The sheer repetitiveness soon transforms into an anarchic mantra as it gradually bores itself into one’s consciousness.
On “Invectors” Clervaux samples American anthropologist and activist David Graeber giving a speech that concerns the idea that inventors, developers, and pioneers are driven by economic incentive when in fact the pursuit of profit will always win through. As a result, the people who create the ideas will eventually always be (as the song repeats as its hook) “crushed or destroyed/ripped off/exploited”. Although a depressing yet realistic notion, he argues that creative people are well aware of this fact and it does not stop them from creating and pursuing their craft. Somehow, Clervaux has managed to spin this into a strangely danceable, warped, leftfield dance tune.
The Gore Vidal sampling closer, “Exhibit ‘A’ Smartphone”, comes across like a lost Luke Slater track as it references the classic Detroit sound before adding abrasive gouges of noise. With the sample of Vidal repeating the word “democracy over and over again, it is a suitably anarchic ending to the EP and the series as a whole.
Zibaldone III is an often challenging, avant-garde exploration of modern society. The tracks on here could collapse under the sheer weight of their own intellectualism but, thankfully, Clervaux never allows that to happen, preferring to step back to allow the listener to join the dots on their own. We may well be fucked but, then, we’ve clearly been fucked for years.