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Veins Full of Static - Passenger Songs

This is not the night mail crossing the border
There are no cheques or postal orders
Letters for the rich, bills for the poor
Letters for the rich, bills for the poor
Letters for the rich, bills for the…

The only similarity between W.H. Auden’s famous poem ‘Night Mail’ and Passenger Songs, the new album from Veins Full of Static, is the sense of perpetual movement. Gone is the wide eyed wonder of a train travelling through the Scottish night, laden with joy and gifts, because this is a glimpse at the Tories’ Brexit Britain. Instead we have apprehensive drones and broken melodies, wrapped up in thick clouds of distortion, echoing in the distance. We watch a post-industrial Britain pass before our eyes through dusty carriage windows, unclear vignettes, while we sit as mere observers, voyeurs unable – or unwilling – to effect change before we move on again to the next place.
But occasionally, as at the start of ‘Last Exit’, the fog lifts, that unrelenting kick drum coming to the fore, and suddenly we see everything is right there in front of us. The chaos that was outside is now in the carriage with us, like a belligerent drunk, but this too passes and is gone.
The final track, ‘Synecdoche, Barnsley’, is the longest track on the album at just over 13 minutes. It’s also the most minimal, a long-form track of drones and slow swells as the wind whips around. The driving momentum is gone and we are no longer passengers, we have arrived at our destination. This is the future Britain in which we could live, joyless, cold, barren, unfriendly, unwelcoming, and distant. The track, the album and thus our vision of the future, ends with a sample from the end of the similarly titled ‘Synecdoche, New York’ in which the main character, having spent the whole film searching for a way to write the play while living inside the play, “I know what to do with this play now. I have an idea. I think…” before his stage director, his controller, his god, gives him a final stage direction: “Die.”
The liner notes for this release end with, “It’s not your world; you’re just passing through.” But I disagree – this is our world, we’re just being led by others and have no control over it, and we need to take it back for ourselves. The future is an uncertain place, and we need to consider the possibilities and outcomes to have the courage to ask the hard questions like whether this the way we wish to live? Art and music are the perfect way to question the status quo and protest the inevitable, and with Passenger Songs we have a strong voice in the fight.
Passenger Songs is available now on Bandcamp from Disintegration State

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