Thursday, 22 December 2011

Best Albums of 2011: 3. Defdfires - Operation: Zombie Nation (Emerging Species)

Operation:Zombie Nation is part horror pastiche, part social allegory, part neo-Ziggy concept album. On the surface, the theme running through it deals with the social panic that ensues when zombies take over the UK without warning. Dig deeper and you'll find a rich seam of social observation that connects deeply with a post-economic collapse country struggling to maintain a sense of itself against the onslaught of something it can't control and is kidding itself if it thinks it can understand. The result? Panic, riots and a disruption to normal social mores that shoots violently through a nation formerly complacent that it had it all sussed. Sound familiar?

It's an album that competes with the universally lauded PJ Harvey opus as the perfect soundtrack to the western crisis. Sadly, it won't be heard by anywhere near as many people. While ostensibly a rap album, the rap is used sparingly, and thus the spitter's attacks are far more devestating when interspersed with sound collages, spoof eye witness testimony and Brechtian levels of dramatic disorientation, and over a rich tapestry of sound that darts roughly from the mellow and benign through the jerky and disorientating to an endpoint that is part apocalyptic nightmare, part consummated celebration of the only attachment which, in the face of such ultimate levels of disruption, is unclothed as the only thing that continues to matter.

It's outspoken enough to ram home constitutional observations too rarely voiced these days - its passage on 'the palace' is its zenith here - and yet amazingly manages to be compassionate and tender at exactly the right moments without yielding an inch to disharmony. A unique and brilliant body of work.

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