Daniël : Step on a butterfly in the Sahara Desert and the Sagrada Família in Barcelona collapses. All events, big and small, can have a lasting effect on the world at large. In the past, the Chaos Theory was nothing but a far-fetched hypothesis. But in a world that is more and more connected, the truth of this hypothesis is being affirmed constantly. A leak in a Russian gas pipe has enormous effects on the global market. An angry tweet from the American President and whole bunches of corporations lose faith in the American market. A bunch of conservative elders wish to see the rebirth of the British Empire instead of improving cooperation between the UK and the rest of the United Nations, and London calls for independence. But at the same time: ten body bags on the Libyan shore in a short news flash, and ten minutes later we have already forgotten about this tragedy. The news dictates what we value and fear most and the highest bidder wins – this highest bidder decides what gets media attention and what not. We live in chaotic times, when the big money has power and when a little tweet from America can call people from their beds.
At First is fed up with the world in which people stare so blindly at the market forces that peoples’ lives become of secondary importance. In the Dutch province of Groningen, companies keep drilling for gas, causing thousands of households to shudder from earthquakes. It is no thought to suppose that any time soon companies exploiting the newest technologies to achieve their ends will change our lives more radically then we have gotten used to even now. They will decide what our offspring will look like. They will rule the streets with their drones. They will be the boss in our minds, in our dreams. And who dares to make a fist before it’s too late? Maybe bands like At First, who are warning for such companies already.
On ‘Dreams Inc.’ we hear, in the fashion of Rush’s ‘2112’, a story about the dystopian world, in which one company owns it all. They use the newest technologies to know precisely what consumers want, and then produce and offer these products themselves. The side-effects of insomnia and depression are contested by medication, once again offered by the company itself. In this way, the company as achieved a monopoly over peoples’ lives, who are caught in their hedonistic treadmills.
At First is right on time with their record. The world ought to hear their message. Sounds of revolution against the status quo which has steadily and increasingly brought us closer to our doom. Armed with a hardcore attitude the Dutch band At First tries to reiterate the revolutionary force of punk music. I wonder whether the relatively gentle story-telling manner in which vocalist Jamie Jochems sings will really have an impact on the public sphere. Will this sound be noticed? I would hope so, but whether or not At First as found the right medium yet … Be true to your inspirations, but the purpose is what counts. The band will eventually have to choose between Halestorm and Rage Against The Machine, accessibility and provocation, political correctness or upheaval. Certainly, this record is great. But whether it can ever be more than just great, time will tell.