Social Junk Born Into It

[Digitalis; 2009]

Styles: urban (noise) studies, post-spiritual, bad trips
Others: U.S. Girls, Inca Ore, Kaoru Abe, C. Spencer Yeh, T.R. Malthus

In order to critique modern forms of life, some philosophers constructed a mythical state of nature with which to contrast it. In modern society, humans are corrupt and alienated, but in the state of nature, they were good and unified. Despite the awful conditions of modern society, humans can always look back at what they once were, and this vision of the past can serve as a foundation for a possible future. This source of hope, though, is founded on a lie. It became the duty of some to conceal this lie, for if the truth is revealed that there is no possibility of foundational goodness, and if human society is always filled with strife and dread, then the already weak bonds holding the social world together will gradually disintegrate.

Unlike those soothsaying myth-constructors, Social Junk refuses to appeal to an idyllic past, present, or future, and forces us to look behind the curtain at the perpetual terror of the real. Born Into It is a 50-minute journey through the most discomforting urban aural paranoia. The random blasts of noise are startling at first, but the overstressed ear of the modern city-dweller is already familiar with the overabundance of disruptive sounds that punish and swarm all around. Social Junk, by mirroring the chaotic clicks and scrapes that constitute the non-stop noise of the modern city, throw us into a world of sound we already know but somehow overlook. The eternal crunch of gears and doors swinging open and closed; car horns, brakes squeaking, gun shots, and yelling; human machinery pulsating and blindly, stupidly ramming into itself; cell phones, alarms, sirens, and endless chatter; helicopters spinning out of control — one massive death-orgy of distorted hums, slams, and bangs.

From the outset of “It Just Isn’t The Same,” we are thrown into the world of chaotic technics and mechanic blasts: we are literally born into it, and there is no apparent way out. The only foundation is a tribal beat that sits under the glitches, desperately attempting to hold together the inarticulate, warbled ghost-chant that seduces the listener to trudge deeper into the horror. The percussion on “Those Final Seconds” sounds like the subway car starting its trek underground, screeching around sharp corners and through tunnels that echo-build the spectral voices such that they overpower the delicate ear. The saxophone cry whirs in for a moment, while the doors open to let in more noisy bodies eager to catch the one-way train to doom.

The organ soothes and hypnotizes on “Grief,” providing a moment of relaxation under undulating waves of sound as self-medication. It’s an attempt to forget the insanity of the outside world, but the static-drilling and death-moans forever gnaw at the calm. One is left only with false-memories of a more peaceful time, but the noise of the world is already embedded within this tranquil domain. The screeching sounds materialize themselves in new forms: neuroses, panic, nosebleeds, violent outbursts, self-mutilation, shopping sprees. The title track starts underground, but around the 6-minute mark, we leave the womb-tunnel and head up towards the light and into the city. There’s another quiet space, but it quickly vanishes as we step into the overcrowded streets and become consumed by the relentless noises of bodies: fabrics rubbing together, teeth chewing, farts, sighs, fragments of conversations, total-overload. “Behind a Wall” is the two-minute equivalent of a paranoid mental breakdown.

The longest period of calm is found on “Someone Upstairs.” Above the sound of a dripping faucet and the haunted creaks of a dilapidated building at night, a siren voice begins to stir, summoning the damaged soul upwards. The body begins to levitate, moving closer to the source, but the clicking fuzz-obstruction returns and forces it back down into its hole. Born Into It provides no way out. Solitude is not an option because the outside noise and madness have already become a part of our being and there is no way to escape ourselves. “When,” we might ask, “will all this madness end?” And the only response that Social Junk provides is: “Hopefully, never.”

1. It Just Isn’t The Same
2. Those Final Seconds
3. Grief
4. Born Into It
5. Behind A Wall
6. Someone Upstairs


Some releases are so incredible we just can’t help but exclaim EUREKA! While many of our picks here defy categorization and explore the constructed boundaries between ‘music’ and ‘noise,’ others complement, continue, or rupture traditions that provide new forms and ways of listening. Not all of our favorites will be listed here, but we think each EUREKA! album is worthy of careful consideration. This section is a work-in-progress, so expect its definition to be in perpetual flux.

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