Summary: Two opposing, mirroring forces – automation v. individuality, freedom v. oppression, nature v. technology – clash in the fantastic new album, Man Vs. Machine. The expertly crafted punk and rock songs from the Brand New Luddites find singularity with the circuit-breaking surf power of The Tsunamibots. A magnificent record that will leave you questioning if you’re a human or a robot by the end.
Band New Luddites Vs. The Tsunamibots
Man Vs. Machine
Assimilation has already happened. You just didn’t notice because you were too busy looking at your phone.
Man Vs. Machine details this downfall of humanity, one currently happening in real time. The brilliant new split from The Tsunamibots and (introducing) the Brand New Luddites, Man Vs. Machine builds upon the world introduced in the Tsunamibots first EPs of dynamic surf rock. Less a concept album and more of a status update, Man Vs. Machine recognizes the slow technological seduction currently enthralling mankind. It also suggests that while the robots are winning, victory isn’t – nor ever will be – absolute.
That is because of the Brand New Luddites, who open the record with some of the best punks songs you’re going to hear all this year. “Complacent” calls us out for living in a “small-screened world,” failing to see the bigger picture – and the bigger threat facing humanity. “Internet Race,” arguably the best song on the split, argues that these methods of mass communication – social media, your favorite subReddit, etc. – have birthed “the new hive mind.” Technology has enforced conformity. Just take a ride on any bus or subway. Count the number of white earbuds or how many heads are pointed downward to an illuminated screen to see the truth behind BNL’s warning.
After Man Vs. Machine, BNL deserves their own full-length record after this amazing introduction. These four – singer Colonel Malware, basic Private Power Surge, drummer Captain Virus and guitarist Corporal Blue Screen Of Death – set Man Vs. Machine up perfectly, painting a picture at the closing seconds of their side of the split. As they chant “Enter the coup / of robot kind / Whaddya do? / Who are you”, they are answered with a resounding, digital reply: “I AM ROBOT.”
From there, the Tsunamibots enter and remind every human why they’re one of the best surf rock bands around. “010010” is a sonic explosion, a crushing, that announces their arrival. “Programmable Dudes” is a slower jam, but the infectious chorus is hard to resist. “C:\>_RUN” makes the plight of avoiding deletion at the hand of your robotic overloads sound fun. The Tsunamibots continue to
evolve upgrade their sound. “Awareness Signal” and the closing track, “Android Anxiety,” are high energy songs that do display a Man…Or Astro-Man? influence, but their quirks and their quarks prove that the Tsunamibots are not just digital copies.
Ending on “Android Anxiety” implies that even after the robots’ victory, the conflict – the titular “Man Vs. Machine” – will continue. It’s less a case of “good vs. evil,” and more of two sides of the mirror finding themselves in conflict. There’s a great deal of intelligence – artificial and organic – behind Man Vs. Machine. The concepts of “robot” are explored. If a human mind is automated, are they not just robots in disguise? Though the album art on both the LP and CD is painted in a stark black and white, the album is splattered with shades of grey. On the surface, it’s some of the best punk and surf that will come out this year, but repeat listenings will unveil deeper, darker truths. Highly recommended.