Sunday, 6 April 2014

Voco Protesta - Neniam Konfidu al la Stato

"I do believe in the necessity, and indeed in the inevitability of an universal language; but I do not believe it will be brought about, or even hastened, by smaller races or nations consenting to the extinction of their language. Such a course of action, or rather of slavish inaction, would not hasten the day of a universal language, but would rather lead to the intensification of the struggle for mastery between the languages of the greater powers.

On the other hand, a large number of small communities, speaking different tongues, are more likely to agree upon a common language as a common means of communication than a small number of great empires, each jealous of its own power and seeking its own supremacy." James Connolly, 1908

Raw punk from Japan screamed bitterly in Esperanto, a melding of form and content, a language built to erase borders, unify humanity in one tongue, one language. The use of Esperanto harkens back to movements of the early 20th century, futurists as optimists, the wide open possibilities of revolutionary camaraderie spanning the world, before futurism played its hand as fascistic ugly machineworship, Esperanto is new rules as new loves, new grammars as new communities. It's an old-fashioned idea, because the imposition of new languages is now synonymous with the erasure of old ways, those "smaller races or nations consenting to the extinction of their language" that James Connolly wrote of, the native kids taught English or Spanish or French and punished for using the words that connect them to their heritage, it's been a severing, controlling tool, a cleaver, so that the more revolutionary act is one of reclaiming lost tongues, preserving languages sitting on the brink, crafting literature and poetry and song in a voice that speaks to your family but not the majority, that you hold tighter, make those who wish to see and understand you have to work at it actively engage with your voice, the intimacy holding back the malicious hegemony that globalisation carries with it. Charu Nivedita's Zero Degree written in Tamil not Malayalam or English, Der Nister's The Family Mashber in Yiddish not Russian. Punk bands across the world letting loose enraged rants in every language under the sun. Esperanto is seen as an odd utopian relic.

Voco Protesta embrace this revolutionary tradition of the language fully, although it is a far from utopian perspective expressed in this album, a raw graze of violence and struggle, pain and burning, capitalism, bureacracy, police violence, profits and nuclear fallout, a litany of illnesses poisoning the planet. The unifying force of Esperanto here is the unity of struggle and the promise of anarchism, the reaching grasp of hunger and unhappiness, in this we find a makeshift communion with people across the globe, and languages so steeped in blood as English or Japanese, though they are capable of great beauty and truth as all language, are unfit for purpose to lay this struggle bare. Reach back into the past to find this half-forgotten thing to blast apart bureaucratic nightmares and nuclear traps.

The brutality here, as in the works of Pichismo, an Esperanto punk band hailing from Ukraine, is fully alive in the music, blistering and violent, underpinned by a radiation hum, exploding out of tension on Kontrauatako, setting up moments of respite from the thrashbuzz, sweet woundings on Divido Kaj Konflikto, jaunty marching on Vivas Morte, only to kick them in with unnatural forces of distortion. Only to crash onwards.

Eight years after he penned the words at the top of this review, James Connolly was standing before a British firing squad for his part in the Easter Rising. In word and deed, commitment to a better world is what we all aspire to, and almost always fall short of, battered by the blows of an unjust world, tugged down by the human compromise, but we can find moments and small places where these revolutions live, in protests, in voices, in the shape of the language we use or refuse to use, in art and in song. And for some of us, in the warm savagery of noise.

On La Vida Es Un Mus.

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