From the underground
Abrasive modern punk for a dystopian future, is how Sam Mentink (aka Samari) describes Klang, a techno party with a political edge.
And now Auckland's infamous underground techno crew is about to come to Gisborne “to destroy Smash Palace”.
“You can go to escape but if you want something with higher meaning, and listen to music made for political change, you might come out thinking differently,” says Mentink.
“That ethos is part of the music. You're put into that space, then you can do what you want, make up your own story.”
Focusing on the theme of music as protest, a vehicle for social critique and change, Mentink completed his masters in music last year. His debut album, HyperNormal, was the culmination of his master's project that focused on protest and activism.
“The album HyperNormal embodied that idea the party is an expression of that,” says Mentink.
The nine track debut album is a conceptual rewriting of a soundtrack to British filmmaker Adam Curtis' documentary HyperNormalisation.
The documentary argues that since the 1970s, governments, financiers and technological utopians have given up on the complex “real world” and built a simpler “fake world” run by corporations and kept stable by politicians.
HyperNormal is described as having distilled “the decay and angst within Curtis' film to create a new sonic landscape, one that maintains a fine balance between destruction and regeneration”.
That resonated with Mentink's view of the world.
The album, Klang's recording debut, was released shortly before lockdown.
“Three weeks later we were in the new normal.”
Mentink cites civil unrest in Detroit, and demolition in 1989 of the Berlin Wall as home to the evolution of techno as a voice for change, a release valve.
Techno originated in Germany in the early 1980s and in 1988, the term came to be associated with a form of electronic dance music produced in Detroit.
“In terms of ethos, it's resistance, questioning the status quo — which is a big part of punk.”
Mentink encourages people to take a stance.
“Find something in your area to fight and show resistance. My thing is the housing crisis in New Zealand,” he says.
“I look at the society I live in and what the biggest problem is for young people. I see people who are oppressed, have nowhere to live and are not happy.
“When I launched the party, it was to fight against house prices. You might not get that on the dance floor but there are ethics, values and fundamentals behind the music.
“You could argue there's a bit of an anarchist streak to us.”
Klang, Auckland underground techno crew + Yosiah, Clay Louis, Uday. Smash Palace, January 9. Tickets $20 from undertheradar