TheUse and Rachel Mason set Xu Lizhi’s poetry to send a message about consumer society
Michale Durek’s TheUse solo project have teamed up with Rachel Mason and the results are, well, impressive to say the least. The song is called On My Death Bed, and is taken from a 7” released by Aagoo. The music is murky but there is an element of hope there. The lyrics are taken from Xu Lizhi’s poetry. Lizhi was a factory worker who sadly took his own life. His death, however, has been used as a wake-up call to look at the conditions of electronic factory workers and what is actually costs to have a new phone in your pocket.
On My Deathbed will feature in the documentary Who Pays The Price?: The Human Cost of Electronics. Over the last four years director Heather White has followed the story of a Chinese activist with leukaemia who helps young workers poisoned on the electronics assembly line. The trailer has over 1.2 million, yes ONE POINT TWO MILLION, YouTube views. White said recently “Xu Lizhi’s poems underline the alienation and despair felt by those trapped in a dead-end existence, where work is the only measure of one’s daily experience.”
Mason describes Lizhi’s this “(Xu Lizhi’s) Poetry just really sung themselves to me, and miraculously matched the songs that Michael was crafting. Some poems just seem to have a melody built into them and you can hear it.” Ultimately On My Deathbed is a folk song that has been updated and re-jiggled. In a way this is far more interesting. The electro pops and blips juxtapose Mason’s soaring vocals in a way that would have been lost if the song had been recorded in the Norma Waterson/Eliza Carthy vein.
The work of White, TheUse and Aagoo Records to bring this diametric problem to our attention. Yes we want to be in contact with the world at the touch of a few buttons, but what does this gift actually cost? Maybe next time we collectively bemoan the lack of WiFi and short battery life we give a thought to the lives that make this a reality.
TheUse featuring Rachel Mason and Black Saturn will be released on 4th November through Aagoo Records