Phasing In: Soundtracking The Apocalypse With Arthur Gun


In these alarming days of yet more US gun massacres, more UK political nonsense and Putin dropping bombs on some fresh territory (for him at least) it is getting harder to tell the top from the bottom. These are serious times and I at least need a serious sound of confusion to elevate my spirit back into orbit. 'Earthman Phasing Outwards', the new single from Arthur Gun sounds great when I'm rushing on my run, so I arranged a pow wow with singer and lyricist Jack Mullinger. 

I first encountered Jack whilst he was performing at an underground poetry night at Light Eye Mind Gallery on Blackstock Road, the same place in which we both find ourselves sat today, casually ruminating on various ills at large in ‘the grand scheme of things’. 

His performance that night veered from acerbic diatribes against machine-minded suburban consumerism to nihilism-tinged reflections on his/ours/your disconnection from the political world, themes that have transferred in part to his work with Arthur Gun.

Alongside these themes comes a misanthropic lyricism that eschews the conventional solipsism and preoccupation with love exhibited by the vast majority of current artists, instead choosing to deliver an esoteric commentary on the dissolute modernity in which we all now find ourselves.

What musical influences have driven you into focusing on this unconventional (at least in this current climate) subject matter?

"None. None at all… I think my creative process has been informed more by literary figures and narratives."

So what books have you been putting in your basket?

"I think Ballard, Orwell and Vonnegut reflect the strange age we are living in more than any current musical figure that springs to mind."

So we don’t/can’t rely on the radio or even the traditional indie bedsitters soundtrack to inform or illustrate these strange times?

"No. All I hear is dissolution, a bizarre yet barren landscape blindsided by repetitive decadence. Which is not to say I’m some kind of moralist, but these are hardly the conditions in which intellectualism can thrive."

'Conditions in which intellectualism can thrive’ is not something I have heard of late in the music media.

"It bothers me the way people lament that music has no message any more. I’m going out on a limb here but surely there is room for both. Most folk artists would be considered ‘pop artists’ of their day but they at least had a message or a story to convey to their audience."

Earthman Phasing Outwards’ exemplifies this approach. Their debut release essentially announces the arrival of Arthur Gun proper after existing in relative obscurity [in one form or another] just below the radar since initial formation as the vehicle for Mullinger’s songwriting in 2013. The release also marks the inaugural output of the newly established Fort Records, operating from Primal Scream’s former lair at Fortress Studios, a stones throw from Old Street.

The track itself is a searing 2 minutes 51 of synth-driven space punk, that pits Mullinger’s apocalyptic visions of a future obsolete humankind against the euphoric backing soundtrack of Thomas Alexander (lead guitar), Ray John Hewitt (synthesiser), Joseph Whitney-Fish (bass) and Joel Cousans (drums). It is an infectious and timely slice of sardonic pop that explores man’s relentless technological conquest against himself. 

The more frenetic B-Side ‘Here Out West’ is equally on topic, an aggressive but precise garage rock number discussing the increasingly bleak stockpiling of global tensions and the human inability to escape the perennial shackles of religion. As the picture builds you can begin to tell that this is not a band who deal in light-hearted theme tunes for summer barbecues or constipated dinner parties. 

In some ways, it seems, Mullinger sees Arthur Gun as the heir apparent to the now bedridden protest generation of decades past, though the twisted hangover of the 20th century cuts a depleted silhouette on the ground of more complex and confusing times. As such, there is scant leeway to pull punches, and the mantle of the observationalist is one of scathing cynicism and disdain, sneering with unflinching disgust in the wake of yesteryears crumbled optimism. 

These are the weird times to be alive and what else is there to write about and why is no one else doing it? These are the questions you should be asking.

You haven’t criticised any current bands in the last two hours we have been talking…

"That would be too easy and who really is there?"

In today’s all too often mechanical rock band climate, it is this rare and unflinching outlook that highlights the very real potential and importance of Arthur Gun. 

Mat Harvey

Earthman Phasing Outwards is out now – grab your copy here. See Arthur Gun at The Waiting Room in Stoke Newington on 10th November – find out more here.