ALBUM REVIEW: ‘Hell on Earth’ ponders humanity, technology
By Mary Norris
“Hell on Earth” is the latest project from avant-garde trio, Sandro Miller, Eric Alexandrakis, and John Malkovich. It is a follow up to their critically acclaimed, multimedia project centering on Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave”. It is a continuation of that narrative, addressing the growing prominence of today’s most notably and inherently flawed human creation: technology.
The trio usually approaches their multimedia endeavors with Miller directing, Malkovich starring, and Alexandrakis composing and scoring. In “Hell on Earth”, Malkovich speaks Platonian works over ambient music from Alexandrakis.
The opening track, “Revelation”, begins with sounds of destruction, setting the tone for the album’s theme. Screams, falling debris, and shattering glass begin the venture into a world dominated by technology.
As the album progresses, technological sounds increase. By “Skepsis 1 [Migration]”, Malkovich begins reading lines to reflect observations of human nature and to bring to light questions of sentient technology.
By “Skepsis 2 [The Order of the Universe]”, rhythmic and melodic content enter, bringing order to the music itself. By the end of the journey, the listener reaches “Repurification” and “Electrorganic [The Beginning]”.Is “Hell on Earth” a journey of enlightenment, or a commentary on humanity’s imminent doom? Is it a pretentious collection of ancient five dollar words? Is it a depiction of media’s power to control human perception? The listener is brought back to the “Allegory of the Cave” repeatedly.
A collection of quotes set to music, “Hell on Earth” encourages understanding of humanity’s interpersonal and larger social structures – relationships, love, sex, religion, education, war, peace, and personal good, without offering deep or empirical understanding of those structures themselves.
The artists compel listeners to explore reality through substantial and organized musical thought, the most compelling commentary amongst seemingly unorganized ancient quotes disconnected from modern society, if not for the sole example of technological dominance. The album is well-composed and well-produced, lacking only in its level of depth. While the overall point of “Hell on Earth” is clear, it is not concise, new, or engaging commentary.
Photos courtesy of Minoan Music