G.K. Chesterton once noted that the creative process was uniquely human. Birds build nests, but they don’t engineer better ones nor synthesize beyond what they understand.
For most of history, experiencing art was a mutual exchange – it couldn’t be commoditized. There was only one painting or one performance, and you’d travel and pay money to experience it in person and hope it was as good as everyone said. And there was a period of patrons where certain elites and religious figures would commission artists directly. The standards were high but art could indeed be sustainable.
Enter the world of recording, streaming, and file sharing. It’d be remiss to say the value of art has declined and thusly, the dignity of artists has been diminished as well. It’s not about what you say – it’s how loudly or elaborately you say it. Every action under a social media profile becomes performative. Art ceases to be something you do – it becomes the defining characteristic of who you ARE. Content creators are in some cases as consumed by their work as multi-level marketing folks. Bands don’t NEED podcasts, but how many have hoped it would be what would finally get them their break? The sacred has been reduced to mundane; people have become as much products as the things they pitch.
“We gotta monetize everything,” Sal Mastrocola screams on Gatto Black’s latest single. It’s not the project’s first song, but it’s the first taste of his forthcoming LP. He’s acutely aware of the dangerous reality of intertwining human identity with product placement – where words, ideas, and emotions can all be assigned a price tag (and if you’re deep in the marketing rabbit hole, you already know they CAN).
The song is frenetic, embodying the sort of frustration you’d expect from someone trying to reconcile their passions with shapeshifting social expectations of what it means to be an artist. But if screaming the loudest is what it takes to get noticed, Mastrocola holds nothing back here. This is punk at its finest: fast, loud, direct, and high-energy. Even the the track is only a bit over a minute and a half, there’s no question what the lyrics are trying to say here. And there’s plenty of dynamic between heavier and softer parts that you’ll find yourself surprised at just how concise it is. The bite-sized packing is equally true-to-form of punk and also a subtle nod to the world of short attention spans and instant gratification that drives the consumerist mindset.
The upcoming album similarly is as bold, tackling a number of social, political, and personal subjects without fear. Needless to say, it’s high on our radar for post-hardcore albums this year. You can keep up with Gatto Black on Instagram and the official website.