Review Summary: I need not find purpose, but will it. I do so on a foundation of impossible love.
January 12, 2021: I check my email and see a message with the subject “A Word from Fortune’s Daughter & Dan Greene." With no mention of The Armed anywhere in the email, I immediately recognize “Fortune’s Daughter,” one of the standout songs from The Armed’s genre-bending album Only Love
. And Dan Greene
, the ever so elusive moniker associated with the unpredictable Detroit collective. With great excitement I wonder, what are they up to this time? After reading through a series of cryptic messages, there’s a link to a website with a design straight out of the 90s: The Book of the Book of Daniel. After navigating through several pages with pseudo-religious texts I click the link to sign the “guest book,” and suddenly I’m in a Discord server. Did I just join a cult?
February 1, 2021: A couple weeks go by as a few hundred more Armed fans, or Daniels, find their way into the Book of the Book of Daniel Discord server, all eagerly waiting in confusion and anticipation of what is to come. Finally there is an announcement for a live address in The Corner Cause voice channel at exactly 10:17pm from Gerard Butler. Yes, Gerard Butler. Many Daniels gather together as Gerard Butler introduces himself and cites the Mission 61mantra: “I need not find purpose, but will it. I do so on a foundation of impossible love.” He then takes attendance, reading out the name of each Daniel while calling upon us to “Refract,” one by one. Gerard delivers a speech with great intensity and everyone learns they are there to celebrate the rising of ULTRAPOP
; not just an album but an entirely new genre of art and way of thinking. A movement set out to destroy garbage music, not by violent eradication, but rather by counterbalancing with overwhelming creativity and community.
March 6, 2021: In a Discord exclusive Dan Greene Q&A interview, Daniels were given the opportunity to collectively come up with ten questions about ULTRAPOP
. One of the questions asked what the connection between the Book of the Book of Daniel and ULTRAPOP
was, something Daniels had already been trying to figure out. Dan Greene said “The Book of The Book of Daniel was created as a parallel experience to ULTRAPOP
the album. It is not in any way necessary to the ULTRAPOP
experience, nor is it necessary to understand the content of that album. Yet for those interested it exists as a sort of shadow or mirror experience to it. It is a very specific type of mirror in tone and content to the shiny product that is ULTRAPOP
, a type of duality that we see reflected in many examples throughout society today.” So much in society today we see powerful figures who have incredible influence over people’s lives. This is prevalent in American politics where we see politicians elected based on how effective they are at rallying followers together who share the same beliefs rather than being elected on policies. This type of behavior of putting blind faith into one person can lead to some dark consequences, and disturbingly mirrors characteristics of cultism when we look at the extreme divisiveness among people today.
When asked if there was anything outside of the arts community that influenced ULTRAPOP
, Dan Greene said “Here’s an answer you may not have been expecting: within the stage of world politics it’s been interesting to see the framework of warfare shift gears so drastically in the last two decades. Information warfare has re-emerged with terrifying new efficacy as a way of dismantling or destabilizing one’s opponents. This has come to light in the US very visibly in the last five years, but it has been going on for much longer. We are in the midst of a perfect storm of multiple generations with poor media literacy, the democratization of affordable connectivity, and the invisible shift from monolithic media experiences to incredibly complex individualized experiences that pander blindly, and without conscience, to engagement. So much of the approach to ULTRAPOP
has been our attempt to almost invert what we perceive to be the ethics and effective techniques in delivery mechanisms that have arisen from this new world. In other words, what if instead of the most morally bankrupt people attempting to consolidate power and exploit people’s worse traits, we used similar techniques to create the greatest art ever made? To appeal to what might be good in people.”
Through the lens of an American, we have seen the media adopt techniques that Dan Greene mentions such as manipulation via fear mongering and selection bias of what is reported to prey on those easily influenced for personal gain. This kind of news reporting hyper-individualizes the consumer experience which can lead to delusion and radicalization when there are countless sources of information out there that offer almost any truth you want to believe in. Everyone is led to believe their reality is absolute because there is so much readily accessible information that is tailored to any one individual’s beliefs. Much of today’s divisiveness stems from mass confusion of what the facts are, but with ULTRAPOP
, The Armed embraces this confusion and uses it as a way to bring people together rather than putting people against each other. By creating an experience that mirrored and inverted cultism, they brought fans together to essentially promote their album for them, whether it was hyping up the singles ahead of release all over the internet, bringing ULTRAPOP
to the attention of celebrities and influencers in mass social media raids, or buying billboards all over the world. All out of sheer love for the art, and to be a part of the performance.
There is something appealing about mystery that is very captivating, and The Armed have found success through obfuscation. The Armed have always been a band that wants to communicate to us through the art rather than through the people who make the music, but in doing so it has only sparked more curiosity among listeners about who is in the band. Ironically, this mirrors the obsession of the artist in pop culture today when the “who” is completely irrelevant to what The Armed are trying to present. It doesn’t matter who is in the band because people come and go, and The Armed want to leave something behind that may outlive the existence of the band itself. Aspects of heavy music that were once considered rebellious or confrontational are now the norm, and everything stays inside its realm of certainty. That’s not to say there isn’t any more good heavy music, but when we have become familiar with what to expect from it, the music becomes artistically stagnant and is no longer the subversive force it used to be. ULTRAPOP
wants to confuse you and make you question whether it’s “hardcore” or not. It wants to make you feel the intensity of listening to punk music for the first time without sounding like what you are used to hearing in heavy music. ULTRAPOP
is not the antithesis of pop or heavy music, but is rather the amplification of both at the same time. ULTRAPOP
is the new
is ultimately a mirror to all things; a reflection of more than just music. Unlike the morally corrupt entities of the world that use deception and manipulation for power consolidation, The Armed want to invert tactics that exploit people’s worst traits to bring people together through art. ULTRAPOP
puts together an overwhelming experience of uncertainty rather than giving you something immediately gratifying, but it does so to make you feel something memorable without sounding immediately accessible in an oversaturated sea of accessible music. When a lot of today’s music follows the popular trends or tries to replicate what was once great, creativity dies. When an artist dares to push the envelope, they risk coming across as delusional. Much like those who have turned their delusional beliefs into their reality through curated information, The Armed are determined to make their delusions their own reality for the sake of creating boundary pushing art, whether it’s inventing a new genre or calling themselves the world’s greatest band. The Armed do not need to find their purpose because they have willed their own.