WW3D, coming from M8s Records, is titanic in concept. Designed and composed as the musical accompaniment to a short film of the same title (created by Jimi Tormey of GANG), WW3D is provocative, emotional and largely thoughtful. Spinning a web of synthesised paranoia, distorted sonic landscapes and folklorish lyrical wizardry, WW3D is an intellectual record that challenges the listener to enter the conceptual Flatworld and come out the other end still thinking straight – or perhaps still thinking crooked?
This article will aim to disambiguate the story of the album, track by track, and ask similar questions to those which the WW3D film may propose. Enter the world of WW3D and be swallowed by its atmosphere, question its attitudes and enjoy a conceptually participatory album.
Track 1: Flatworld // Sfear – The opening track of this pensive giant is strong. Harmonically painting a picture of a future dystopian landscape and lyrically conveying the monotony of an Orwellian nightmare. The low booming voice declares statements of separatism while the synthesisers in the back of the mix begin to build tension, sounding not too dissimilar to the scores of early 1980s Neo-Noir films such as Blade Runner. The listener can only assume that the world being described by the voice is the Flatworld. If the title of the album is anything to go by, I would like to theorise that the Flatworld may represent technology and the unbreakable bond that the new, Western human has with his or her devices. Is WW3D asking us to step out of the two-dimensional world of online and start living in 3D again? The transition into Sfear sees the booming voice of the unknown Big Brother-esque character diminish into the sheepish and shrill reply of the emotive. The vocals are suffocated and the tension of the music supports this atmospherically. The closing moments of Flatworld // Sfear is lead by huge, foreboding synth sounds that feel like they are truly leading us down a hole into much darker territories…
Track 2: Daedalus – Opening with a softer vocal and harmonic arrangement, Daedalus provides the listener with a uncertain levity and, in very much the same way, the instrumentation of the track gives the cognitive image of flight, fitting the title of the track perfectly. Much like the myth, Daedalus feels like a harbinger, a warning sign of the perils of the Flatworld. But how do we know when we are flying too close to the sun and when do we know that we’re falling? The song is very explicit in terms of how it aims to represent the thought behind the lyrical content, at one point the listener is met with synthesised white noise, sounding very much like ocean waves, the white noise places the listener above the sea where Icarus flew. In the latter stages of the song, a long delay is applied to the vocal sound, echoing into the ether, we can’t help but feel like the vocalist has just dropped from the sky.
Track 3: The W88 – The opening melody and instrumentation sounds like old-English folk scales and the lyrics seem more romanticised, perhaps suggesting that the narrative of the album is venturing into retrospect and hindsight. With the mention of the vocalist losing their thoughts it could be argued that The W88 tells the story of not forgetting what human consciousness was like before the Flatworld. The lyrics also remind us that we’re waiting, but what for? The monolithic synth tones return to channel the dark concepts behind the song, ultimately making the listener fearful of what they are waiting for. The W88 is ominous in approach and colossal in nature. The track ends with a staccato synth drum sound, mimicking the beat of the human heart, this could be a sign that the Flatworld has begun to digitalise basic human functions. Christ.
Track 4: Fountain of You – The start to the second half of the album, Fountain of You is perplexing. On the one hand it feels like a dystopian love song, as if a computer has tried to write the melody to a Michael Bolton song. Yet on the other hand, Fountain of You shares the same fleeting optimism as Daedalus. Perhaps this song tells the tale of what romance is like in the Flatworld, accompanied by the confusion that this concept would bring about, with the lead vocal often claiming that they ‘don’t know’, are we as the listeners even sure that we know? The title of the song could be seen as a declaration of the fact that youth and vanity appear to be mutually exclusive terms in the online world (or Flatworld). Thus, the highly coveted Fountain of Youth has turned into the Fountain of You and, therefore, the implied Fountain of I. Is WW3D mocking our self obsessions? I hope so. Rhythmically the track is very interesting, at points the drums sound like heavy machinery, possibly the marching steps of our robot overlords?
Track 5: Cattle Lick – This is truly a corker. A synth symphony; a ‘synthony’ if you will. Blaring square waves and seemingly endless sonic horizons makes this song feel like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark on acid. The harmonic content of the song blends well with the instrumentation to evoke the image of some kind of space age funeral ceremony. Like the works of Sakamoto, Cattle Lick paints a landscape, as if the digital noises were telling a story. Are the machines trying to communicate with us? Terrific track.
Track 6: Separated at Death – Immediately, the track feels more human. It may be the change from synth to guitar and therefore machine to man, key to hand. Separated at Death acts as a somewhat peaceful epilogue to a mind-blowing albeit mind-bending album. Does this renewed peacefulness, in addition to the title, present the idea that the only time we will ever be separated from technology is when we die? Maybe this implies that the most human thing a person can do, is die. Whoa.
To summarise, WW3D (which I have now begun to nickname World War 3D) is a powerful record, pertaining to it being an even more potent soundtrack. A veritable sonic journey, the record evokes discovery and expanse but also beautifully crafts an atmosphere of tension and, at times. despair. In this article, we’ve asked a lot of questions and come up with a lot of theories. You want answers, punk? You may just have to form your own opinions…
Words by Harvey Dent