Long Term Parking is made up of the Czech- based trio of Christineck (aka Michal Krystýnek of the band Ponk), Kolib (aka Libor Koutník), and Pavel Bříza. Their first album Luxury Luxury has been on my playlist in frequent rotation, as I try to get a handle on it, and because it’s just interesting listening.
It is also dark material. At this uncomfortable moment in time, something ecstatic just sounds wrong to my ears. A bit of keening anxiety is in order, along with spoken word droning, some catchy hooks to keep humming to and a bit of experimental sound atmospherics mixed with strings to get to the heart of the zeitgeist. We are (perhaps) coming out of the covid pandemic and into who-knows- what.
The climate is in deep crisis, and globally fascists are making headway. Meanwhile streaming media and increasingly intelligent ad campaigns are promoting the worst kind of capitalist excesses. Celebrities, including those weird, ersatz influencers, famous on the internet, or just for being rich, are going to lavish events in extreme outfits, travelling to space, touting underwear, pouting into their phones, escaping in their super-yachts and revealing domestic hatred on a trial live-streamed and endlessly reported. The wars that rage and the fires that burn are like afterthoughts of their delirious self-regarding images. It’s a rough moment on the planet. Is that what Luxury Luxury is about? The album is made up of songs laying bare moral struggles of the mind in the face of technological intrusions, and the collapse of self-identity and agency within the internet age. It’s heady, deep listening stuff.
Sometimes, it has a hopeful tinge as in “The Middle Way”:
My mind is oscillating between nothing at all and everything
And my attention's shining like a prison searchlight in the night…
When it finds something it immediately rips it to pieces
So say it: What's the point of doing this again, again, again and again?
Hey, hey, the point's to find the best way, and that's the middle way…
Let there be daylight all day every day no more prisons of the mind, make them go away
When they're gone disappearing in an empty space, then there's nothing left to say
I want nothing at all as well as everything.
Nothing in between
Is there something inside nothing
Like my secret virtual place
Is there any space between us
Or is it just a clear hole like a Mirrorball reflecting my own rays
Is there something inside nothing….
Luxury Luxury has a message, delivered via elaborate lyric imagery and sonic textures. This is presented in a surprisingly loungey and atmospheric mode as the lyrics are sung, growled, and chanted. Often the vocals are echoed and doubled, ebbing and pulsing under tunes that sway and shift into shimmering layers. It may be dark lyrically but it’s also quite catchy and danceable; it's sugar with the pill. Then “Eyes” gets more brutal, more succinct, and takes on a chiding tone.
Can you see how ignorant you've been this whole time?
Are you in your eyes or ears, fingers or tongue
Inhale your exhaled air and exhale it again
Hold your breath and stay just as you are
Do you realize you've always been here and alive?
Luxury Luxury , which was recorded at home, presumably under lockdown in 2020, is a philosophical sound-musing which has elements of Beck, Radiohead (Thom Yorke’s vocal style is clearly an influence), LCD Soundsystem, and even Led Zeppelin in the hopper. Long Term Parking’s perfect English with a detectable accent is sometimes unnerving and the somewhat judgmental tone is not particularly sympathetic. This music does not coddle, but it does please: the repeated chants and loops blend moody with pop, and the grooves can be infectious, even as they are not reassuring. The album features semi-hallucinatory imagery with enigmatic songs about debt, mortality, the dying planet, and lots of false promises. Much of it has to do with online culture and technology, as in “Stayed Back.”
Stay back so I can clearly see
All the weird things you want from me
Now let me be on my own
Stay back away from me
With all my pictures on your screen
All my music in your phone
Stay back you don't know me
This album is certainly not all one thing, and while parts are pop-inflected other portions are more ambient and experimental, with chanted menacing messages and other parts slide into psychedelic or string-based grooves. In an online interview the band has said of the album, "The songs together create a mosaic and when it all fits together and you start to feel that way, you can hear the story of the whole record – that’s our point.”
They say mosaic, I might say collage. The reason for citing other bands and musicians is not to imply lack of originality, but like LCD Soundsystem, Deerhoof, and other experimental groups- referencing is an important part of things. Collage for me is about layering while mosaic is more about abutment of disparate elements, keeping their original patterns intact. I would like to know more about their processes, the rules of their art-game. The songs mention eyes and vision frequently in their lyrics, and the rich variety of sound indeed echoes the visual panoply, the glowing visual feast offered by even the most cursory visit to the internet. Truly, one can get lost in the labyrinth, an elaborate manipulated apparatus, structured after our very own minds….
This feast, which sucks our lives, our time and may exact greater debts. For instance in “No Time For Me.”
This could be internet or contemporary life writ large or,I suspect, both as virtual and actual intertwine inextricably.
Sign here please" she told me
When I filled the application form
"we will let you know in three days"
You know this is the norm
Smiling and attractive
But was she real or not
She's the one that bit the apple
At least that's what I thought
Who's gonna fill in my pages
Who is the Owner of time
Who's gonna put a stamp on my new credit line
The band has cited as influences Peter Gabriel, Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, and “bands with a ‘recognizable sound’ like Arcade Fire or Vampire Weekend.” The omission of Beck to this list is a surprise, as his love of lush layers and laid back, leisurely vocal approach seem key to Long Term Parking’s modus operandi. Whatever their influences- they have good taste, it’s an excellent audio mixture with leisurely but ambitious tracks.
Luxury Luxury ‘s weak points include what puts me off of a lot of psychedelia and metal: gory, grandiose and sometimes overly obscure lyrics of a bewildering intricacy. The music, with it’s grinds, surprises and hooks obfuscate this somewhat, but then, songs about clawing ones sense of self back from the internet may actually require some histrionics, so: Everyone, sing along!
There is a participatory aspect to pop music and earworms in general that get reinforced by the repeated tracks and layered vocals of Luxury Luxury. Long Term Parking makes great use of this which, lends irony and humor to some pretty grim assessments. Listening to it, my brain, sometimes reluctantly, sings along, adds another repeat, hums with them, dragging my body into it in a sway. It has element of club and trance music, where the sound starts to inhabit one. It all mostly feels great, regardless of the intended lyric messages. Music as survival therapy, as a healing art. All arts are healing. Art is about catharsis in one fashion or another, even dark exhortations to find one’s way, one’s ‘self.” One exits the labyrinth and blinks to focus at the surrounding world outside. The music is about process, transformations, about things happening and becoming.
This is an ambitious, timely concoction that bears repeated listening. We need music that scathes, scorns, and urges change. This is not protest music; it exhorts individual reflection and rejection, not collective participation. Yet the two are twined, and the lack of agency, the feelings of insecurity and powerlessness evoked here are answered with the challenge to find oneself, one’s meaning, one’s being.
Doesn't matter what I think
Doesn't matter what I say
I'm just a see-through ball
I don't matter at all
This is more than everything
But less than nothing
My skin-based avatar
Hardware made of flesh the software's all me
The upgrades keep coming
Feeding him with bread and blood
He always turns off for the night
Doesn't matter what I think
Doesn't matter what I say
I'm just a see-through ball
It does matter what I think
It does matter what I say
All I am is a see-through ball
But I'm the one who makes that call.
And it’s catchy and listenable, to boot.
Find the artists online.
An interview with the band