“I’ve never been a fan of recent electronic music,” admits Tom Morello, “but my friend turned me on to Knife Party, Skrillex, and Steve Aoki, and I saw that their music was just as powerful as my favorite early Rage Against the Machine records.”
Hot off the release of his first solo album under his name, the RATM guitarist and onetime Audioslave detonator fuses his staple “Marshall stack fury with huge EDM drops” on The Atlas Underground. File it away as another fresh entry in his nontraditional forays that include folk project the Nightwatchman and the supergroup fusion of RATM and Public Enemy into Prophets of Rage. Still keeping company in hip-hop (GZA, RZA, Killer Mike) and rock (Marcus Mumford, Gary Clark Jr.), the Harlem-born activist, 54, seeks new friends through electronic.
“This record is a Trojan horse for the electric guitar in 2018,” chuckles Morello. “I thought, ‘What if two-thirds of your synths and drops are substituted with my guitar?’”
Sure enough, there’s wah-wah pyrotechnics in the scathing and conspiratorial “We Don’t Need You,” R2D2 string scratches on the anti-war “Battle Sirens” and “Rabbit’s Revenge,” and annihilation riffs on “Roadrunner” and “Lead Poisoning.” Aggressive but gentlemanly, Morello’s trademark outspokenness continues to lift the voice of the oppressed and working class, a common thread linking this new effort with previous work that includes a stint in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.
“Whether there’s someone crossing the border on ‘Roadrunner,’ police brutality on ‘Lead Poisoning’ and ‘Rabbit’s Revenge,’ or a prisoner on death row in ‘Find Another Way,’ these stories are meant to inform a more just and humane future,” explains Morello.
Which prompts the question: What about that Rage Against the Machine reunion?
“If it’s in the cards, I’m always in.”
Sat., Dec. 15, 7pm