music album REVIEW:
- Roger Waters: Amused to Death (1991-92)
This is not so much a dark album for its overall sound – though there are some very dark moments musically too – but more for its topic. As you would expect of the guy who wrote what most people regard as the ultimate concept album (Pink Floyd's "The Wall"), "Amused to Death" is also a concept album. But the theme is more real-world oriented than much of the dark music under the "gothic" umbrella. This is not gothic at all – but content-wise it is, as a friend of mine once put it: "so bloody depressing". If you're the type who has doubts about humanity's ability to come around and maybe not self-destruct, then this album will finish you off. It leaves you shattered and devoid of any hope for mankind. Not in an exactly apocalyptic way, more in a psychological sense.
The title, by the way, is similar to (and most probably directly derived from) the well-known 1980s book by Neil Postman "Amusing Ourselves to Death" – itself a severe critique of modern civilization and a gloomy outlook for its future (more in a Brave-New-World way than in an Orwellian one – quite prophetic really). Roger Waters turns this into what can only be described as an epic movie for the ears. In fact, in that sense it's the all-time benchmark, and so is the quality of the production.
This is stuff to listen to on good-quality headphones doing nothing else. It rewards such concentration with one hell of a ride. You can't really take any of the individual tracks out of context. So it's best to take the whole dose in one go. It gives you the most totally engulfing musical "trip" that can be had. I know of nothing else coming even close to it in this sense.
So good is the album that it must have drained every bit of Roger Waters' artistic resources – as he's hardly written anything after this, and what little he did come up with was never anywhere near this level of quality … shame, but then again, better to burn out on a work of this magnitude on full throttle, than spreading it evenly over many less grand pieces. Come to think of it, if it wasn't for my soft spot for Gary Numan, then this would have to be my No.1 album of all time …