Hear the priests lie that black is white.
In 2022, Manchester-based synthwave artist Richard Evans (James; St Vitus Dancers) was cruelly struck by a tragic fate: his body had been overtaken by Miller Fisher Syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder.
“I literally woke up one morning in the midst of losing all muscle control,” he reflects. “Over the course of a single day, I became unable to open my eyes, to sit, stand or walk, even to eat or swallow food. I was hospitalised for a month and for the first ten days of this stay, there was a real risk of respiratory failure. Alongside a treatment plan, I kept going with positive visualisations, mentally depicting future times when I would be well again. If nothing else, this practice helped me find the strength to endure the most challenging experience of my life.”
This harrowing experience led Evans toward deep introspection as he painstakingly rebuilt his life, thread by thread. As his body battled this condition that decimated nearly all function, Evans found parallels between his own fragility and that of the planet. The result led toward what would become his new retro-futuristic EP, Dream of the World.
“Once I was released from hospital, music became an important part of my recovery – learning to sing and play keyboards again helped me regain control of my arms, hands and facial muscles. For a long time I had double vision and didn’t have the concentration to work on a computer. However I could play piano for short periods and was able to resume some vocal work after a couple of months. This phase created an unexpected change in my writing process, which previously was built around riffs and sequences developed on a computer. ‘Dream Of The World’ was composed entirely with piano and voice.”
Richard Evans infuses the exquisite Dream of the World with inspiration drawn from real-world science, delving into biotechnology, machine intelligence, and environmental themes. The album, a blend of refined existing songs and freshly penned material, melds the warmth of classic synthesizers with concise lyrics that thoughtfully explore these contemporary topics. Echoes of Midnight Juggernauts, Rational Youth, Pet Shop Boys, Kraftwerk, New Order, Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis, and Gary Numan resonate throughout this beautifully crafted and poignant work.
The title track poignantly captures the climate crisis, highlighting the procrastination and indifference of governments and corporations, who treat the transition to zero carbon as an insurmountable task. The lyrics convey a fatalistic acceptance of what seems inevitable, with prophets claiming that change is impossible and no one bears responsibility for the unfolding calamity. They vividly depict a city besieged by nature, standing as a metaphor for crumbling empires. Amidst this bleakness, however, the song issues a rallying cry to dream of a better world, one that mirrors our ideals. It contrasts the passive acceptance of fate with a bold refusal to succumb to predestined outcomes, embodying a spirit of defiance against oppressive forces and a longing to transcend the limitations of the present, even as the stars remain hidden from view.
The haunting self-directed video shows Evans as a transmission through the airwaves; an oracle bringing forth a most important message to a planet in trouble.
2084 mesmerizes with its single, entrancing sequence and rhythmic drum pattern, addressing the denial of science and the persuasion of others towards an alternate reality. The lyrics paint a vivid picture of a world grappling with environmental decay and moral upheaval, where melting ice and rising seas symbolize the chaos. In this tumultuous setting, the song accuses priests of spreading deceit, blurring the lines between truth and falsehood. It delves into themes of population dynamics and manipulation, hinting at societal control and transformation. The imagery intensifies with winds howling and skies collapsing, alongside wolves echoing these deceptions, all converging to underscore a world spiraling into disorder.
Motherlode, an unreleased gem from the 2021 Sentinel sessions, delves into the world of algorithmic trading and flash trades, illustrating how markets in cities globally exploit Earth’s resources daily. The track critiques the modern financial landscape, dominated by the pervasive influence of machines and technology. Phrases like “money machine,” “future machine,” and “flash trade machine” paint a picture of a cold, automated system reigning over major financial hubs such as Paris, Börse, and Shanghai. The lyric “Welcome to the Motherlode” serves as a sardonic welcome to this high-speed, tech-centric universe of trading and relentless pursuit of wealth, highlighting its potentially exploitative nature.
Richard Evans is a creative force whose talents extend far beyond music. He recently garnered a New Ideas Fund award from Creative UK, earmarked for developing a virtual production studio. This grant is set to enhance content for upcoming stage shows and bolster his new sci-fi short film project, “DeepSleep,” which he wrote and directed, slated for a 2024 release.
Evans’ repertoire includes the writing, directing, and production of the science fiction drama ‘AEON’. His literary prowess is evident in his numerous short stories and the novel KOSMONAUT ZERO (published by Dead Ink), a work researched at the Star City Cosmonaut Training Centre. Additionally, Evans played a pivotal role in curating the Gagarin 50 exhibition, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic first human spaceflight.
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