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Video Premiere: "Dismal Universal Hiss" by System Corporation

System Corporation; Photo Credit: Mark Hamilton
6 April 2017

System Corporation; Photo Credit: Mark Hamilton

New Zealand is a country that normally doesn’t get much attention in the larger scheme of things – not politically, nor musically. Though there have been some real sonic gems coming from this part of the world, whether or not most people realize the artists are from there, like renowned Split Enz and Crowded House and, um, The Flight of the Conchords – and a whole slew of influential indie bands, usually intertwined via lineage, on the Flying Nun label (The Bats, The Chills, The Clean, Bailterspace, Straitjacket Fits, The Verlaines…).

Today The Big Takeover introduces yet another New Zealand band, this one called System Corporation, and premieres the video for their debut single Dismal Universal Hiss It’s the first track off of their impending debut album, Fiction Dept., but that won’t be released until later this year, according to the band.

“Dismal Universal Hiss” is powerful. The intro may be quite long, but an adrenaline rush comes to the fore once the vocals finally kick in. This pummeling track also lends the opportunity for the band to shine. Singer Scott Newth also bellows lyrics that are more complex than the prog-imbued instrumental backdrop itself.

The song is about the futility of the situation we are in. Scott Newth explains, “This track has hints of hope that, one day, real change might happen, while touching on the futility of protest movements like Occupy Wall St, that in the end, changed very little.”

“For a fleeting moment there was a real feeling that change was in the air. The left seemed huge, the right seemed outnumbered and defeated. People even mentioned the word ‘revolution’ rather quietly, or perhaps only on social media,” Newth relates. “But it didn’t happen. The system knows how to beat a revolution. You just wait it out. You can’t occupy Wall Street if you don’t own all the buildings. It’s all just entertainment. Ratings. Political Comedy Shows, and some pepper spray. That’s all it is. It’s not the revolution at all.”

He continues, “The left whimper away in a flurry of satirical memes and Facebook likes, and the protectionist ill-informed right inadvertently vote in exactly what they thought they were rejecting. The system isn’t broken. It’s perfectly set up to work for those who have the money to pay to shape it into what it is today. It’s working perfectly, for some.”

System Corporation is quite the serious band. But it’s their intensity and philosophy that makes them interesting. The band has a similar vibe to early Black Sabbath, while also showing similar sound elements to Bailterspace, The 3Ds, Savages, and Queens of the Stone Age.

This is a five-piece with Phil Somervell (bass, guitar, keyboards), Scott Newth (vocals), Andrew Newth and Kent Newth (both on guitar), and Ben Cole (drums). The members cite numerous influences, including The Rolling Stones, John Dwyer (Thee Oh Sees), Ty Segall, Sonic Youth, The Clash, The Stone Roses, and New Zealand’s The Subliminals. Scott Newth takes particular inspiration from both music that is “beautifully calculated” and, at the opposite end of that, “beautifully uncontrolled”.

System Corporation is an ironically corporate name for an organization promoting such a socialist ethos. The band moniker is a vague translation of Systembolaget, a government-owned and operated liquor store chain in Sweden. Through this mechanism, the government has been successful in controlling alcohol sales, identifying problem areas, and allocating profits for the continuation of social services.

“Dismal Universal Hiss” will be released on April 28 and will be made available via usual online platforms, but can already be ordered through the band’s Bandcamp and via Amazon

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