Makeup and Vanity Set (AKA Matthew Pusti) has been focusing much of his time scoring the wealth of podcast offerings from Tenderfoot TV, including Radio Rental, To Live and Die in LA, the Monster franchise, and Up and Vanished, along with contributing the otherwordly good score to Abner Pastoll’s breakthrough film, A Good Woman is Hard to Find. But the announcement of a new album, Endless Destiny, out Sept. 25 on Data Airlines serves as a reminder that he’s also still making killer studio albums.
The video for compelling initial single “Algorithm,” directed by Saman Kesh and Justin Hopkins, serves as a poignant kick-off to the release cycle. It is a different take on the common fear of AI’s inevitable sentience that is inherent in some sci-fi stories (and in real life, really). This isn’t Skynet sending out corporeal death squads. In this case the AI engages in something more psychological. Watch the controversial video below.
“We are both POC individuals,” directors Kesh and Hopkins said in their statement about the video. “One of us from the enemy country of Iran and another a mixed race Japanese. Though our specific experiences with racism have been different, we are all too familiar with those closet trolls that have been around for many years, hiding, hurting, provoking for pleasure. We were both bored from being in quarantine and also angry. So we thought how do we make something boring, angry while also being exciting? At first, we felt nobody wants to read during a music video, yet somehow we didn’t stop there. We said fuck it. Let’s have some fun with our anger. And this is where it ended up. Anybody who has strong reactions to this video, we invite you to smile, embrace it and examine it. Enjoy!”
The video was released on Sept. 18, but it’s been encountering some striking responses. One publication was poised to run it and pulled the plug 15 minutes before launch. Pusti and Data tried to run ads using the video and they were rejected. The comments section on the video has been reliably terrible.
“It’s telling,” Pusti said in a Monday email blast to fans. “The video is not science fiction: It’s the mirror image of a society wrapped up in an algorithm of false equivalency, of division, and discord. The video goes against the grain of the traditional ‘evil AI’ trope and reveals both the ethical and moral dilemma about both human and technology. One of the directors received pushback on Instagram that the video was hateful and ‘anti-white.’ ”
“Saman and Justin are both creative artists who have encountered racism over the course of their lives because they are not white,” Pusti says. “The video is a reflection of their experience and a meditation on the state of technology and how social media both divides us and indoctrinates us according to decisions made by billion-dollar tech companies.”
About Endless Destiny
Here is what Endless Destiny is about, according to MAVS:
The central theme of the album is the concept that we now live in a space where we human beings are the product. We’re inundated with services and systems designed to follow our every move and to track and create analytics about who we are and what we do and what we’ll do next. This information is then sold to the highest bidder.
I’ve made a bit of a career around making what many people would call ‘dystopian music.’ Over the years, the fantasy of cyberpunk dystopia seems to edge closer and closer, but without the tropes and trappings of science fiction movies from the 1980s; instead it comes as something far more sinister — as seemingly harmless apps and algorithms that push and pull on us and suggest to us a myriad of possible paths and persuasions.
Pre-order Endless Destiny in digital and physical forms via Data Airlines.