Reference Points is the weekly column where we get the chance to ask our favourite artists to reveal what inspires them from outside the world of music. This week, we catch up with Prince Rama, a band who were perhaps better prepared than most for the rumoured end of the world, which was supposed to happen in December. Then didn’t. Nevertheless, the Brooklyn duo made sure that a super soundtrack was in place to accompany the planet’s end in the form of their latest album, Top Ten Hits of the End of the World and here, sisters Taraka & Nimai Larson reveal what the world would look like it they were allowed to rebuild it following an apocalypse.
One of my favorite hobbies is P.A.U.P. (Post Apocalyptic Urban Planning). It’s a great way to pass time when you’re on tour locked in the van for hours driving through cities that make no sense whatsoever. I don’t know how many fictional cities I’ve designed at this point, but I keep detailed notes of them for when the time comes and they might be of use. Each one is named after the pop culture icon who is elected leader of the city. The most recent one I’m designing is New Björk (constructed on the island formerly known as Manhattan). Below is a list of some main bullet points summarizing daily life in New Björk.
The government of New Björk is a free market social democracy where citizens vote on pop culture icons in the fields of art, architecture, physics, music, literature, sports, film, and fashion. These icons become the new leaders who then determine the laws and cultural zeitgeist of the era.
All domestic housing consists of standard issued inflatable structures that are portable and easily attachable to the ventilation systems of virtually any pre-existing structure. Each house consists of one white room with walls that can expand or contract depending on one’s spacial needs. A 360 degree video projector is provided with a selection of custom interior spaces that one can select and project on the walls, so the transition from kitchen to bedroom can be made with the flick of a switch.
New Björk only runs on naturally occurring bio-electricity. Lights are powered by colonies of fireflies who live inside mirrorballs. Giant pools filled with electric eels are placed at the center of each block, giving citizens a place to charge electronics sub-aqueously.
There are no instruments to measure time. All faces of all clocks read NOW.
Recorded Music Part I
Music in New Björk is recorded as soundwaves etched directly onto grooves in blocks of ice. The ice records are played through skating over the grooves; the speed of the song is determined by the speed of the skater. The grooves on these sonic ice skating rinks are ritually erased and switched out every day so the record is always fresh and new.
Recorded Music Part II
All the pre-existing cassette tapes in New Björk were confiscated in the Great Anemic Outbreak and the ferric oxide that provided the magnetic sonic coating of the tapes was dissolved and compressed into iron supplements. Because anemia outbreaks are an unfortunately frequent occurrence, cassette tapes are used solely for their nutritional value.
In New Björk, there is no distinction between space travel and time travel. The farther the distance in miles you travel, the farther backwards or forwards in time you go. Different neighborhoods are zoned for different temporal eras, beginning with the labyrinth at the city center marking Year One. But because time is always NOW, there is no conception of ever entering or exiting the past or future.
Skyscrapers are set up like a set of drawers with each floor having the option of being “pulled out” from central column and becoming an open air sun-deck. Elevators not only connect the floors, but other buildings as well.
New Björk runs on the Alphabet System of currency. Instead of numbers having intrinsic value, one’s name is synonymous with one’s worth. The more letters one has in their name, the richer they are; everything they buy costs letters from their name. Vowels cost more, consonants cost less. The richest man in New Bjork has a name that is fabled to be seven pages long.
A link between people’s color fields and energy fields has made it possible to “eat color” and gain energy from it, thus eliminating the need for solid food. Large cafeterias with various colored chambers affixed with monochromatic neon lights make it possible to spend thirty minutes a day in a chamber of choice “breathing” in the color one needs to boost their energy field. The only other supplement needed is the iron tablets made from dissolved cassette tapes.
There are no officially designated educational institutions in New Björk. Instead, all education is executed through subliminal means; patterns in street signs, messages in background music, cracks in pavement that form words, manicured landscapes that form faces, newspapers laced with codes, etc. The whole city is an open book designed to teach each citizen according to their own level of cognizance.
There is very little crime in New Björk. The punishment for any crime is the doomed fate of having to repeat the action again and again and again until its been completely erased from one’s system. No police are necessary; this process happens organically according to natural karmic law.
Matters of courtship are conducted through the arena of the sauna. In the sauna, everyone is nude and everyone is equal– there is no physical mystery, thus no energy wasted on pursuing sexual curiosity, taboos, or games of seduction. Because the physical mystery is eliminated from being factored into the laws of attraction, citizens of New Björk come to see their bodies in a non-possessive light and pursue connections with others based on other metaphysical factors. Communal saunas can be found in the bottom floor of every building, and serve the dual purpose of steam-heating the rest of the floors.
Top Ten Hits of the End of the World is available now through Paw Tracks Records.