AN NCS VIDEO PREMIERE: THE ATOMIC BOMB AUDITION — “DREAM FLOOD”
photo by Rex Mananquil
And now for something completely different… a mysterious and spellbinding video… a song of many facets and multiple meanings… and a big musical departure from our site’s usual extremist fare….
The subject is a new video for “Dream Flood“, a song from an album named Future Mirror that’s the first new release in nearly a decade by a band whose name tends to stick in the head — Oakland’s The Atomic Bomb Audition. There’s a significant back story about this group and their eclectic compositions, which have drawn inspiration not only from the geography of Northern California but also a collage of musical influences ranging from cinematic music to prog rock, heavy metal, and new wave.
And we’ll get to some of that back story, but we ought to focus first on what you’re about to see and hear in today’s video premiere.
Future Mirror is itself an album that plays out like a film. As guitarist/vocalist Alee Karim explains, “It is about the cycle of death and rebirth. It’s very much programmed to be listened to all the way through, to symbolize that journey.”
In the course of that musical journey, “Dream Flood” appears as a multi-layered creation. As for its meaning, Karim says:
“Dream Flood is a literal prayer for rain. As Californians, we are constantly in the thrall of drought and at the mercy of the skies to gift us with water. That became a metaphor for change and where you seek it (externally vs. internally) but the water theme has both material and imaginative connotations.”
Those who’ve followed the weather reports from California in recent weeks are aware that prayers for rain were answered, in catastrophic fashion. But, as Karim suggests, the song is about more than the desire for relief from drought in the physical world, which came in a deluge. To quote bassist/vocalist Jason Hoopes, the song is also about:
“An idea of lamenting lost dreams. A vision of humanity, desperate for rain, not just literal water, but rain as a metaphor for the power of dreams, the power of hope. Then, the revelation that we are the flood, we are the answer to our own prayers. The gods we’re so ravenous to find are already with us, are us.”
As we previewed, the music of “Dream Flood” is also made of many layers that work together. The fuzzy guitar, the quavering and glittering electronics, the musing bass tones, and the singing combine to create a dreamlike and intriguing experience. But the music also becomes significantly heavier and darker, vibrating the bones even as the drums keep twitching muscles and the voices soar.
There’s a simple and stripped-down quality to the song, and the ingredients seem to span many decades, from the ’70s and ’80s straight up to the present day, but the song also spans many moods. There’s uplift in the music, but it’s also surreal and haunting, and by the end it becomes distressing.
As also previously forecast, the video is a fascinating one. Karim explains:
“With the video, we wanted to visualize the ritual around this rain prayer as a Sea Witch who goes through much struggle and pain to beg the gods for a flood. Eventually she experiences the freedom and liberation that comes from internalizing the power of deity. There were numerous inspirations for the video but Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” stands as a clear antecedent in both vibe and content.”
In the video, Makay Davis portrays the Sea Witch, and it was directed and filmed by the band themselves, with additional camera work and art direction by Agnes Szelag, and editing by Gokul Atreya.
Three of the four members of The Atomic Bomb Audition honed their compositional skills at Mills College, a school that has counted experimental music legends John Cage, Steve Reich, and Pauline Oliveros among its faculty, and the quartet has indulged their own experimental proclivities in different ways since the band’s founding in 2004.
Future Mirror was released in December of last year. It was recorded by Kowloon Walled City‘s Scott Evans at Sharkbite Studios with additional recording and all mixing by the band’s own The Norman Conquest, whose credits as a recording engineer include Fred Frith, Elliott Sharp, and Blixa Bargeld. The album was mastered by Andrew Weathers.
We’ve included a full stream of the record below.
STREAM / BUY FUTURE MIRROR:
THE ATOMIC BOMB AUDITION: