|InSoc Biography - Cleopatra Records|
Kurt Harland of Information Society is back to excite the information age with his first studio album in 5 years, Don't be Afraid, and a new live show. Kurt Harland, the principal force in the original band, has recreated Information Society with a darker cyber-sensibility that perfectly captures the prevailing mood of these millenial times. Information Society began in 1982 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and became one of the most memorable electro-pop acts of the 80s with their eponymous first major label release on Tommy Boy/Warner Reprise. Their top 10 hit "What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)" released in 1988, established Information Society as apower on the dance scene, and especially on MTV; the band also anchored MTV's "Party to Go" tour. Two more albums of influential electronic pop followed, including "Hack" and "Peace and Love, Inc."
With INSOC's latest release, Don't Be Afraid on Cleopatra Records, Kurt has made a departure from the pure pop of his earlier work. Don't be Afraid is a moody, brooding exploration of dark theme with ambient influences. With this album, Kurt acheives a more intimate vision, "I've tried to make my most personal, emotionally-driven ideas for songs to their fullest expression, without trying much to fit them into mainstream pop music requirements," Kurt states. Of the differences between this album and his previous albums, Harland says, "This album is different in that it isn't trying to fit Tommy Boy's vision for exploring current trends. I just woke up one day and realized that my deepest, most instinctive ideas for music had finally become acceptable, and that I had matured to the point where I was finally able to turn them into real songs."
Explaining the more dramatic, intense direction of this album, Kurt says, "I've always had the instincts to make this kind of music, but I was too young to understand how to turn it into coherent music. ALso, we all wanted to do straightforward pop music for a while. THen we all got sick of it, and found that it was hard to get off the merry-go-round without losing your record label." While Kurt's earliest influences include Gary Numan, Pink FLoyd, Fad Gadget and the Residents, his more recent influences include Will, Leatherstrip, Dead can dance, and KMFDM, all artists with a more industrial or darkwave aspect. Another prominent feature of this album is the layered ambient textures. "I have been way into ambient music since about 1982. but when I use that term, I use it in the sense of Brian Eno's Ambient 1-4 albums. Long long long recordings of peaceful thick sound that you can fall asleep to. He and Daniel Lanois, Harold Budd, John Hassell, Moebius, Rodelius, all that Corny Plank stuff," explains Kurt. Kurt Harland has long been involved in new-media explorations. To date, there are 6 video games with his music on then, including one which was re-recorded as a music-only cd for Sega, and released on Laser Light Records. The sounds on Don't Be Afraid bristle with digital manipulation an the use of data-as-sound. The vocals even dissolve into the digital noise of the background at times.
The new album not only includes a data cd-rom of INSOC-related files, but also makes use of the fuzzy boundary between data and sound to offer the user a key to obtaining the final, secret 10th song of the album if they are technically savvy enough to decode the audio data message. The cd-rom is sure to please fans of INSOC, who are techno-friendly, and big on gaming, computer and the Internet. In keeping with the digital aspect, Kurt has developed a new live show concept that is all electronic, yet maintains the immediacy of a live show by having the musicians trigger sampled parts on percussion pads and drum sticks instead of using pre-recorded tracks on a DAT tape. Each person will have their own percussion pad station, with 14-18 pads, and play all their parts with drumsticks. The pads will feed MIDI commands to the samplers in racks at the side of the stage. Fans of INSOC are eagerly awaiting the new tour.
With this latest album, Don't Be Afraid, and the tour in development, Kurt harland and INSOC have re-invented INSOC, maintaining its relevance as the act of the Information age. The album shows the artistic progression from what INSOC was, to what it has become: something far more dark and emotionally dramatic. With the straightforward pop sensibilities of its early days behind it, INSOC has presented to the world of 1997 a collection of disturbing and inflammatory songs that is both digital and danceable.
Stay tuned for their new remix album, available on Cleopatra Records in April, 1999. Information and tracklisting can be found at the New Wave Release page. Information Society can be found online at: Insoc.org
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