Conditions, a new EP from the Billy Young-led project Nothingness, examines humans’ relationship with the earth. As Young emphasizes, the earth is dying: “Radiation rains from the sky. Mutilation, mutation, will we even survive?” he asks on “Lucky Ones.” On the closing track “Bellows Breathing,” he offers a solution to help prevent earth’s further demise: “Send the billionaires to space.”
The earth’s degradation is also heard in the persistent cacophony of the EP’s drone and rock instrumentals. The shroud of synths (which continuously whine as if in pain) and the riotous percussion section mirror the industrial sounds of factories, rush-hour traffic, and scurried morning thoughts as you mull over your to-do list. Overall it’s harsh sounding and your ears will ring if you’re not mindful of the volume. Young himself is hoarse trying to be heard over the din; he gasps for clean air.
On the standout, pump organ-driven track “Conditioner,” Young explores his own connection with the earth: “Why do I feel? Riverbeds don’t feel. Why do I love? Forest floors don’t love. Or do they?” It’s a beautiful, mindful moment and one that reminds me of this part of Wendell Berry’s The Unsettling of America: “the soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
The earth is dying. Scientists have factual evidence and in every major storm, the planet proves it. And yet, those in power refuse to acknowledge climate change in any meaningful way. Last month, concerned youths from around the world followed in Greta Thunberg’s footsteps and flooded the streets in a climate strike, demanding that governments take action to prevent the climate catastrophe from getting worse. To see so many people come together and defend the planet was incredibly inspiring. Perhaps hope is not lost. Take a moment, like Young, to meditate on your relationship with the earth and how you can take care of each other.