Review Summary: Fear through the eyes of madness
The world has become a frightening place. There are obvious political, social, and climate-related reasons for this, but at its deep-seated core, it boils down to speed, connectivity, and population. In 1950, there were approximately 2.5 billion humans in the world – now there are 7.7 billion. The rate at which humans interact has also taken off exponentially thanks to the technological boom that occurred over the past thirty years. Now, we see and hear more than ever before. The world is truly at our fingertips, and nothing goes unnoticed. The forward-thinker will see it as a blessing, whereas the conservative-in-nature might view it as threatening to his/her way of life. If ignorance really is bliss, then the world becoming so acutely interconnected is both brilliant and terrifying. Just as Earth’s tectonic plates cause friction and destruction as they slowly reshape the continents, then so too must societal evolution wreak havoc. Sometimes, things need to break before they can be rebuilt. It’s 2020, and you and I stand precariously on the fault lines of such change.
is a bystander throughout all of this. It rests in the corner, studiously jotting down notes. Sometimes it captures beauty, other times it stares in horror. There’s no judgment or narrative, just absorption. The music is the reverse pendulum swing of the world that surrounds us; an equal and opposite reaction to a never ending chain of micro-events. Thomas Azier’s perceptions result in atmospheres that are beautifully visceral: full of love, full of disorder, and totally open to interpretation. It’s an artful representation of the chaotic present, and an electronic/avant-garde/pop tour de force that will sweep you off your feet with its powerful imagery and effortless evocations. This is the sort of record you hope for in times of disorder and confusion, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Azier’s fourth studio album is his unquestionable masterpiece. It combines a tangible retro-80s feel (beginning with his voice, which recalls Tears for Fears’ Curt Smith) with more modern production and electronics. It employs a Dutch orchestra that allows Love, Disorderly
’s emotional zeniths to swell and flourish like never before. It also does more with less – Azier is lyrically vague, with songs often consisting of a mere few verses or a handful of repeated mantras. The intention is for listeners take from it what they may. Again, the idea of Love, Disorderly
being a fly on the wall across various cultures and regions aims for absorption/interpretation rather than dictation – it places the onus on consumers to draw their own conclusions. It’s not political so much as it is catalyzing, or as Azier sings on the haunting, melodic ‘For Tsoy’: “I never needed your help to start a fire.”
most fervently pushes the envelope on its thunderous, militaristic opener and the manic, theatrical ‘Entertainment.’ The former conjures images of war drums and heated rhetoric – everything from protest suppression (buzzing synths drown out distant voices) to a nuclear arms race (the ramped up tension that sprawls across its runtime). ‘Entertainment’ is suggestive of the ever-increasingly blurred lines between what is digital and what is human: “I get orgasms through my phone…Let me taste your virtual skin.” So much of what Azier writes and sings about on Love, Disorderly
is centered around the progression of humanity – whether it is through violence, such as a world war – or naturally occurring, such as our evolution from hunter-gatherers to digital fiends. The overarching message is that our existence is a dynamic, perpetual state of motion – bringing with it uncertainty that is both enlightening and petrifying.
A rare moment of lush, unfurling beauty comes on the closer ‘Open Your Arms’, where Azier indulges in pastoral acoustics awash in an electronic glaze. A ghostly theremin joins the mix to give it a haunting air as the song gradually fades from the tangible to the ethereal, by the end practically vanishing into ambience. It feels like a representation of the future – this gorgeous unknown that we can aspire to despite the ugliness of the present. It may be mysterious and difficult to discern from far away, but it will become clearer and more focused as we begin shaping our hopes and dreams from the purview of our present day. The moment is appropriately breathtaking, and as Thomas Azier quietly mutters “You know that I get caught between the waves, but there’s nothing left to say”, it brings a sense of finality to it all – to the album, to the world, to you and I. But if we can learn anything from Love, Disorderly
, it’s that endings are simply transformations. We wouldn’t have the world we live in now had it not been for millions of years of gradual change. Surely then, whatever awaits us on the horizon – personally, politically, technologically – should not be feared, but rather embraced. I’ll see you on the other side.