Drones against democracy volume one
Soundtracks in collaboration with Aerial Humboldt
KMRO is the mediation of a technology saturated life. There was a dream in the 1970s and 1980s of a technology free life! Jerry Mander and the Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television and John Zerzan (http://johnzerzan.net/) might be touchstones of this thinking – challenging the assumption that new technology was good for us. Pushing humans to consider refusing elements of technology because they were bad for you.
All human animals should have some degree of regret about the pace and lack of consent that marks our ever-more deeply entwined relationships with technology. Cell phones, Netflix, Facebook, Google – that bill paying, public education, and communication between loved ones relies on for-profit corporations and their provided technologies is really messed up. It takes an intentional pause to consider that we might not actually want to use the newest technology even if it is cool.
Which is why we initially told a drone videographer to fuck off when contacted about making soundtrack music.
Drones should be critiqued and more broadly regulated. The low-cost, quick distribution of this powerful tool should be understood in the potential harm that they could do. Drones are the tools which enable governments to assassinate people world wide, almost risk free with death from the sky. The same tool which makes cool ocean videos needs to be understood in the context of the billion people who live in terror because unforseen assassination from the air is a real thing in their daily lives.
Add in issues of safety, privacy, surveillance, ethics of use, impact on nature, manufacturing costs, labor politics, technological control, intellectual property of the filming, relationship to self, and regulation of public spaces. You should have to submit a 30-page written essay before buying a drone, and most people should be turned down.
Drones contribute to an ego-centric god-like view of the self able to move faster than and above the rest of the people. If KMRO is “of the earth” in the attempt to humble, connect and root the participants by slowing down and challenging the mainstream norms of society; then drone flying is the opposite.
But KMRO also knows that purity is a fool’s errand. KMRO relies on growth, evolution and the courage to change. So the email exchange began. Aerial Humboldt discussed the choices of ethics that they chose to use when flying drones, the purpose of sharing images from the sky (documentation) their low-impact, accountability, minimization of surveillance and a respectful approach that started to win us over.
Aerial Humboldt has committed to publish and share their filming values in the “Don’t be a douche with a drone” list: https://aerialhumboldt.wordpress.com/2021/02/24/dont-be-a-douche-with-a-drone
KMRO plans to hold Aerial Humboldt accountable. You can map the persuasive communications used to sooth the pace of the seemingly inevitable lurch toward the digital future. The constant promises that computers will equalize education or technology will save farming can be assessed by teachers and farmers (both have not turned out to be true and have generally widened the gaps between rich and poor in education and farming). We’ll keep an eye out.
But the music that emerged from this tension has been captured in this album recorded in fall and spring of 2020-2021. Aerial Humboldt would share video clips or a rough draft of a video and we would compose audio to match the video.
KMRO also offered audio critiques – intentionally creating unpleasant audio to challenge soothing scenes, using low frequency oscillators during particular scenes of waves crashing to induce nausea and distorted guitar to challenge viewer comfort with the steadied gimbal of the technology. If drones can intrude into your viewership, then KMRO can provide some audio drones that intrude into your ears. If noise is going to be the tool we have left, we may as well practice how to use it strategically.
We have been amazed that Aerial Humboldt has continued to use the soundtrack music we provide.
Audio tracks were recorded with guitar, bass, vocals, homemade synthesizers, FX units, and guitar pedals. Eurorack synthesizer, Pocket Operators, springs and contact microphones, record samples, cheap microphones and any trick in the book. Everything was mixed in the open source program Audacity.
Frog chirps all night
Sauce for sale
Bridge and troll perspective
Wisps of substance
Babylonian mud flats
Walkin after daylight
Catch and release
You can find out more at KMRO.org and AerialHumboldt.com
Karma Means Revolutionary Overthrow