Monday, June 17, 2013

Music: "The Hymn of Acxiom (1st Draft Demo)" (Vienna Teng)

I ran into this last week sometime, through MetaFilter, and it's been on my mind a lot since then (not to mention getting stuck in my head: it's really quite catchy). Not only is it timely, given the recent revelations about the PRISM program and what the U.S. government's been doing with our phone records and on-line information, but for me, anyway, it's also perfectly balanced on that edge between being creepy as all fuck and being really gorgeous, depending on whether you're paying attention to the music (beautiful), the lyrics (beautifully and seductively creepy), or the implications of the lyrics (straight-up creepy).

The "Acxiom" of the title is a real marketing company. (You may never have heard of them, but they almost certainly know a lot about you.)

I hadn't heard of Vienna Teng before this, but she sounds like an interesting person, with roots in software development, music, and environmental studies. In one interview, she even mentions Michael Pollan (The Botany of Desire) as an influence on her music ("The passages where he waxes rhapsodic about cooking or gardening are some of the loveliest bits of prose I’ve read."). So there's that connection, too.

Anyway. Let me know what you think.


somebody hears you. you know that. you know that.
somebody hears you. you know that inside.
someone is learning the colors of all your moods, to
(say just the right thing and) show that you’re understood.
here you’re known.

leave your life open. you don’t have. you don’t have.
leave your life open. you don’t have to hide.
someone is gathering every crumb you drop, these
(mindless decisions and) moments you long forgot.
keep them all.

let our formulas find your soul.
we’ll divine your artesian source (in your mind),
marshal feed and force (our machines will)
to design you a perfect love—
or (better still) a perfect lust.
o how glorious, glorious: a brand new need is born.

now we possess you. you’ll own that. you’ll own that.
now we possess you. you’ll own that in time.
now we will build you an endlessly upward world,
(reach in your pocket) embrace you for all you’re worth.

is that wrong?
isn’t this what you want?

Various bits and pieces about Vienna Teng:

Vienna Teng (Wikipedia) (her website)
How Can We Feed Our Creativity? (interview mentioned above)
Soundcloud page for "The Hymn of Acxiom"
Stanford Daily interview
MetaFilter post about "The Hymn of Acxiom"


Ms. said...

Been following you for quite a while...and don't comment much, because I often have nothing to contribute...but, you got me with this one...and all you say about it is quite true in my opinion. The whole PRISM program is either brilliant or diabolical depending on one's level of trust. We don't trust Governments or Corporations, and with good reason. i tend to stay in balance by some magical trick of a consciousness that can tolerate ambiguity. Buddhist philosophy helps. I also believe that people are capable of goodness and compassion given half a chance. I have to get out to the garden I tend, but I'll return here later to follow more of the links you provided. I leave you with this provocative song from Dead Can Dance (note the coincidence of a Procter and Gamble commercial at the head you can skip or watch for it's interesting contrast with the song)---

Lew said...

It's not different from the post office having been looking at all the envelope covers of all mails sent by all people. Someone will feel their privacy violated for that, even though the content of the mail is not being viewed by the post office.

When one accepts the web browser's privacy policies and terms of service agreements and opens the web browser, one likely has granted the browser to hand over data to government agencies.

My fault. I never read those policies and terms when I install web browsers and Facebook and many other websites.

Diane C said...

Quite thought provocative. I'm a senior citizen and have enjoyed both the struggles and the triumphs in my life. I don't think I'd feel the same if they had been engineered for me.

jmsteffler said...

My comment has nothing to do with this post... I actually Googled "easy houseplants" because I suck at raising plants. However, my boyfriend is very much into them, and when I saw the title of your blog, I almost fell over... He names all of his plants and since we've been together (about 2 years) I have more than seen their little "personalities" come out. So I have decided to work on my own indoor greenthumb and make an attempt at plant-raising. Thank you for your blog, making me laugh and your useful information. I'm going to be visiting this a lot (and pass along your info for boyfriend to start reading too.)

Paul said...

Sound is very Enya-esque to me. I do agree, the lyrics are rather creepy, as well as thought provocative and accurate.