by Jeff Laughlin (@BeardsInc)
It’s not often times of duress bring the best out of an artist. The pressure to lead or educate usually leads to redefinition of reasoning. The point of being in a band seems secondary to trying to heighten awareness when awareness pervades everything. Artistic definitions are redefined – ideas for songs become vague and elusively pointless and a beckoning to originality may water down the effort.
Maintaining balance on the spectrums between melodic, angry & LOUD, the tropes holding Totally Slow up seem frayed and tired. After a few years of trying to scream-define their belief system, imagine the surprise of a politically-aware artist writing their best work now.
Now, a time where we internet-debate as though we were writing 70s punk jams on a daily basis. Now, a time where everything seems so futile and disengaged from reality. Now, a time where truth lingers like unwanted trash; eschewed for the fun of righteous indignation about brands cloaked in the illusion of choice.
The back-catalog for TS revolved more around personal-essay style realizations about the relationships that define our character. They’ve not abandoned that principle. That said, Imperium relies less on insistence of existence in a shitty era and more on the idea that we need each other to be sharp; to sing together in the haze of inconsistent messaging.
They take on the normal enemies – bad governance, disingenuous lifestyle branding, time, the elusive & oblique “you.” If you felt like criticizing Totally Slow, you could point to a vast ocean of melodic punk bands and grumble that you’ve heard it all before. But what point does that serve? It’s not like the band is on a pedestal. They tour rarely, they have no ad dollars behind them and they only insist on a pair of facts: this shit is supposed to be fun and we should be seeking knowledge, not power.
Consider the song “Other People” – a blistering account of what we see from fellow humans on a daily basis. That it bleeds the Dillinger Four ethic directly into a Murder City Devils-esque song of warning, “Lust Will Drag You To Hell,” is a bonus. The whole EP explores the divinity of loud & fast – the freedoms and the restrictions – the same way Imperium catalogs the hopes and fears of modern creation. Totally Slow gets it.
Nothing’s good, nothing’s bad, we’re screaming into the void, sure. But we still scream and meaning is not defined by cause nor circumstance nor sizeable void. Meaning grows, ebb, flows and distinguishes when explored. Of the infinite ways to #resist, the least fashionable may be to lay yourself on the fire and see what the burns look like.
The spectrums and voids may be too much for some folks. It takes a hell of an artist to get better as they burn, but Totally Slow show us it happens.