Art+Politics+History+Culture

The Psychic Soviet

In all my years of going to live music shows across the Los Angeles County, I had never been to the Glass House in Pomona. It wasn’t that I hadn’t heard about it, I just never made the trek. So when a friend sent a text a few months ago mentioning if I was interested in seeing the Make-Up, I signed on at once. The band was originally formed in 1995 in Washington D.C. and dissolved in 2000 because of many copycat bands that appropriated their look and sound, to which the band maintained were counter-revolutionary forms of communication, and added that Stalin had a five year plan and they wanted to do something similar. You can see where this is headed, right? For anyone to compare themselves to Stalin, then you can speculate where their political beliefs lie. The band has always maintained a strong Marxist and Socialist agenda, combining elements of garage rock, soul, and gospel music into their repertoire, while remaining true to the rebellious punk ethos and independent DIY culture by releasing music on their own Black Gemini Records.

The lead singer, Ian Svenonius, has compared the ideology of the band to the Situationist International revolutionary organization of France that was mostly active from the late 50’s to the early 70’s.  I read Society of the Spectacle a few years ago, and coincidentally, I have been thinking about the Situationists a lot over the past few months. If you read the manifesto on my About page, you can hear a similar roar of a call to arms to include avant-garde artists, intellectuals, and political theorists, which David Siquieros also proposed. Their agenda was simple, anti-authoritarian Marxism and a synthesis of art movements that critique modern capitalist society. One fundamental critique has been the alienation caused by advanced capitalism, which is also a constant theme in my work. In today’s rat race of social media recognition, we are driven by extreme highs and lows which cause serious periods of anxiety, apathy, alienation, and isolation, all of which are prime concerns in Marxist and existentialist literature as well.

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In 2006, Ian Svenonius published a pocketsize book, The Psychic Soviet, in the style of Mao’s little red book, only pink. It is a collection of essays and articles ranging from topics such as the cosmic depression after the Cold War, rock n’ roll as a new form of religious consumerism, vampires and vodka. It is a satirical entertaining read mostly about music and politics, and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the politics of music. In the weeks leading up to the show, one of my favorite DJ’s at KXLU, McAllister, played many Make-Up songs in preparation and excitement for the band’s tour dates. They played a full set at the Coachella Music Festival, the show at the Glass House, which was highly energetic, and Ian Svenonuis did a book singing at Stories in Echo Park. It was definitely a Psychic Soviet week and as a shot out for May Day, Pow! To the People!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMVyKp1CEtM  (Born on the Floor)

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