‘E.X.O. Incorporated 2068. A hole opened in the sky. A perforation in the atmosphere too great to reverse. Crops were scorched as daylight became deadly. Humanity fled in all directions, hysterical and in search of refuge. No one was safe’.
When we wrote about Evacuation Day, the lead single from the Eskimo Chain’s second album in December, the idea of a hole opening in the sky seemed like something that might well be laying in store for the world in 2068, given the state of the environment and the ongoing effects of globalization. If the idea was to write about a global pandemic, forcing the government to dispense with civil liberties and order a lockdown, you’d think that could also be something that might happen in the future, but here we are just four months later and that situation is very much real, so who knows what’s imminently around the corner?
The current global crisis has demonstrated just how easy it is for our lives to be turned upside down by something that we cannot control, and why we should treat matters such as climate change much more seriously. The Eskimo Chain wrote ‘E.X.O. Incorporated – An Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’ as a soundtrack to an imaginary sci-fi film as it gave them a focus and momentum for their song-writing, but its storyline seems eerily apt given the state of the world in 2020.
Each song on the album tells part of the story. ‘Opening Title’, one of a few short instrumental pieces, subtitled ‘A Hole Open’s in the Sky’ provides a stark beginning for the imaginary movie and its inciting incident. Evacuation Day (Money Exchanged for Off-World Safety) and The Day Is Out For Blood (Rush to the Boarding Stations) chronicle where everything changes with the exodus from Earth (for those that can afford to do so). Both tracks are filled with uncertainty and scamper along with nervous energy.
Sunrise (The Dawn Warning Sounds) is another short interlude, with its protagonists arriving at their destination with a sense of calm in ‘A Glimpse of Orbit’ (Arrival at Boarding Station VIII) and then seeing their first day end in ‘Sunset (The Warning Ends)’.
Medivision (A message from our sponsors), Machinations (The end of the world), Passenger 431 – B (Boarding Procedure) and Verbulance TM (Sedation) set the scene for the new reality before Baedeker Stream (Suspicions of Foul Play) signals that all may not be as it seems in the new world. The music naturally reflects the events, first striding (Medivision) and then shuffling (Machinations) before becoming reflective (Passenger 431 – B) and disorientated (VerbulanceTM).
Baedeker Stream kicks off tension before the alarm sounds on Open Carbon Preset (the Hatches Open) plunges the mood into turmoil. Celestial Bodies (Passengers Ejected into Space) provides a fateful climax before the album concludes with its denouement, the sedate At the Centre of Everything (Final Glance at the Stars).
Creating a soundtrack to an imaginary film does require the listener to take the album in its entirety, and to understand and appreciate the story being told, with all its twists turns. What it’s crying out for obviously is a visual depiction of events, although that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the music. If you’ve heard ‘Abnormal Dreams’, Eskimo Chain’s excellent debut album, you’ll be aware of the bands trademark psychedelic sound, which is developed further here taking in more electronic music influences such as Suuns and Boards of Canada.
EXO Incorporated is an ambitious, inventive album with depth to its story. It is also hugely thought provoking, and a poignant reminder of what could be, if mankind continues to pursue profit and act without respect for its environment.
E.X.O. Incorporated - An Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’ is out now. You can listen here.