Somehow I missed out on Brave New World in high school English class. In some ways, I’m very glad that I did. Having a college history degree behind me really helped to see how astounding it is that this book was published in 1932. Though I can’t imagine what Huxley would have made of the Internet, many of his visions of the future are unsettlingly perceptive. I’m not saying that we’re anywhere near the communistic, soma-guzzling society portrayed in the classic novel, but the class structures, sexual roles, and religious capitalism seem to be far too prescient to have been written even before World War II. On the other hand, maybe it’s only indicative of the fact that human nature doesn’t really change.
At first, I tried to choose a song for the book that seemed futuristic. I lingered on Excepter and Black Dice for their disorienting futuristic sounds. The new Flaming Lips album would have worked, too, had I not just chosen a Flips song for White Noise. But none of those seemed quite right. Even though Brave New World is about future times, it’s just as much about the present day. Then I thought of Dirty Projectors. The female vocals on the newer tracks seem to fit right into the novel. Gorgeous, alluring, but strangely alien and mildly frightening. Nowhere are these vocals more appropriate to the novel than on the Stillness Is the Move B-Side, “Wave the Bloody Shirt,” whose title made me think of the whipping and hanging at the end. Perhaps Dirty Projectors are a bit of an obvious choice, but I thought maybe not that many people had heard this B-side. The electronic glitches are far more plastic than much of the Dirty Projectors we’re used to, and the vocals give it a human quality. Still, the entire track comes off a bit empty, just as the lives of the “civilized” citizens of London do in the novel. Plus, both Brave New World and Dave Longstreth are pretty strange entities. I like how these two work together. The track, plus the real obvious choice for this book, below. I’ll have my SXSW Top Ten up tomorrow!