Bernays Propaganda – Happiness Machines

Bernays Propaganda - Happiness Machines

Bernays Propaganda - Happiness Machines

“Post-punk” has gradually made the turn from badge of honor to journalistic pejorative. What once connected a group to one of pop music’s most vital movements – fiercely independent, uncannily creative – is now a potent marker for derivativeness and, consequently, a lack of necessity. Choose a band – how about Joy Division, the Smiths, This Heat, or Throbbing Gristle? – to emulate, record a disc, fade to a much-deserved obscurity.

I needed an album to remind me the merits of this now-maligned genre. Enter Bernays Propaganda. Taking its title from the public relations manipulation maven Edward L. Bernays, the Macedonian band has, with this debut on Moonlee Records, revived my interest in post-punk revivalism.

Happiness Machines certainly isn’t without influence from past groups, though. Gang of Four’s fingerprints cloud the compositions fairly thickly, and the Slits and Au Pairs seems to have been summoned somewhere in the recording, as well. Vasko Atanasoski’s furiously scratched guitar sounds more than a little reminiscent of Andy Gill, taking advantage of all the sonic space possible and placing an emphasis on rhythm that can be traced long back to reggae. The rhythm section itself, featuring Sasa Pavlovic on bass and Dzano Kuc on drums, up the speed and agility from usual post-punk fare and offer Bernays a bit of a dancey, funk-punk vibe. The real star, though, is vocalist Kristina Gorovska, whose barbed and beleaguered words sound just agitated enough to get the adrenaline flowing without being so caustic as to distract from the instrumental livelihood. My lingual capacity is sadly limited to English, but translated liner notes reveal expected punk discontentment in the group’s lyrics (“You’ve got scars / From a tightened necktie… You’ve got an inflammation / From laundering in a humanitarian action”).

If you album tires you, though, an included 32-page composition on violence, reason, revolution, etc., by Gorovska is a respectable time-sink. Featuring nearly 100 citations to sources ranging from Immanuel Kant to Ashley Montagu, the essay is by far more dense than anything you’re likely to encounter in zines or blogs.

http://www.myspace.com/bernayspropaganda
“Post-punk” has gradually made the turn from badge of honor to journalistic perjorative. What

once connected a group to one of pop music’s most vital movements – fiercely independent,

uncannily creative – is now a potent marker for derivativeness and, consequently, a lack of

necessity. Choose a band – how about Joy Divison, the Smiths, This Heat, or Throbbing Gristle? –

record a disc, fade to a much-deserved obscurity.

I needed an album to remind me the merits of this now-maligned genre. Enter Bernays Propaganda.

Taking their title from the public relations manipulation maven Edward L. Bernays, the Macedonian

band have, with this debut on Moonlee Records, revived my interest in post-punk revivalism.

Happiness Machins certainly isn’t without influence from past groups, though. Gang of Four’s

fingerprints cloud the compositions fairly thickly, and the Slits and Au Pairs seems to have been

summoned somewhere in the recording, as well. Vasko Atanasoski’s furiously scratched guitar

sounds more than a little reminiscent of Andy Gill, taking advantage of all the sonic space

possible and placing an emphasis on rhythm that can be traced long back to reggae. The rhythm

section itself, featuring Sasa Pavlovic on bass and Dzano Kuc on drums, up the speed and agility

from usual post-punk fare and offer Bernays a bit of a dancey, funk-punk vibe. The real star,

though, is vocalist Kristina Gorovska, whose barbed and beleaguered words sound just agitated

enough to get the adrenaline flowing without being so caustic as to distract from the

instrumental livelihood. My lingual capacity is sadly limited to English, but translated liner

notes reveal expected punk disconcertment in the group’s lyrics(“You’ve got scars / From a

tightened necktie… You’ve got an inflammation / From laundering in a humanitarian action”).

If you album tires you, though, an included 32-page composition on violence, reason, revolution,

etc., by Gorovska is a respectable time-sink. Featuring nearly 100 citations to sources from Kant

to Ashley Montagu, the essay is by far more dense than anything you’re likely to encounter in

zines or blogs.