The album -- a rage against television, video games, and download culture in general -- ties together six songs in a 51-minute suite. Yes, Fear of a Blank Planet is a modern-day prog-rock record. But the British band (which has been making records for 15 years) plays like its a tribute to 70s rock and roll -- no more specific genre required. The whole idea of the album is disappearing, says Wilson. We have this jukebox mentality. Sequencing and flow is going out the window. And thats become a microcosm of the 21st century.
Wilson builds Fear of a Blank Planet with a flurry of synths, strings, and head-spinning rhythms. Theres even a 17-minute epic called Anesthetize that wraps the albums doubts, desires, and anxieties in an aurally complex ball of confusion. I wanted to do something on a grand scale this time, says Wilson. I wanted it to be a conceptual piece of music that hangs together -- all related lyrically, all related musically. Its like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.
Yet, for all his apprehensions, Wilson believes hope is on the horizon. He hears it in bands like the Flaming Lips, Nine Inch Nails, and Sigur Rós, and he sees it in a select group of young fans that take the time to dissect the records. But theres still a long way to go, he says. Its hard not to sneer at whats presented as entertainment and art these days. Look at American Idol -- a program thats creating a generation of singers who should be singing on cruise ships. How far would Tom Waits get on a program like that?
Fri., May 18, 7 p.m.