This should creep your morning out: Planet B, the collaboration of forward-thinking hardcore lifer Justin Pearson and sonic hip-hop alchemist Luke Henshaw, unleash their latest video, “Mirror, Mirror, On The World” with AP today.
Fans of electroshock therapy, psychological horror movies and neurosurgeons screaming at paranoia’s poison door should delight at director Dark Details’ ability to convey some high-level techno-fear.
“The song is based on a weird narrative which has me communicating with a really rude algorithm,” Pearson offers about the video for the track taken from Planet B’s self-titled debut LP on Ipecac, released late last month. “I suppose it’s part Tron, part trying to address the lack of humanity we are currently experiencing in modern times and ultimately coming to the conclusion that we are dragging the world on its ass. Dark Details delivers the extremely accurate visual to accompany the song’s concept.”
In 123 seconds, “Mirror, Mirror” succinctly details the essence of the duo’s creative and political invectives. Henshaw, a respected San Diego-based hip-hop producer, knows his way around generations of Akai MPC samplers to create the appropriate atmospheres for Pearson’s self-described “crazy person’s ranting” on the arrogance of mankind and impending ecological disaster.
Add some input from various musical luminaries (from rapper Kool Keith to post-punk notables Martin Atkins and Sonny Kay among many others) and the Planet B experience are ready to wreck your party. The duo’s biggest coup may be how they were able to use signifiers from everything from hip-hop to industrial to digital hardcore and still not politely fit in any of those categories.
“The beats are there,” Pearson says. “It’s very challenging. Luke also has a cumbia band. There are few songs [on the album] where if you were to strip certain elements, you’d be like, ‘Oh, that’s a cumbia song with a whole bunch of shit layered and some dude yelling over it.’ [Laughs.]
“There’s hip-hop in there,” he continues. “When we sent ‘Crustfund’ over to Kool Keith, he was totally all about it. It was like normal hip-hop to him. To me, it felt a lot like [Pearson’s previous electronic-steeped bands] the Locust or All Leather. There are atonal pieces and annoying sounds made into rhythms or harmony, and then it steers away from an obvious hip-hop-sounding thing.”
Henshaw’s beat science and ear for sound (from sampling budget-bin compact discs to strategically sticking push-pins into cables to corrupt the signal line) are a perfect match to accompany Pearson’s incessant need to bulldoze the accepted boundaries of whatever genre he chooses to work in. He’s quick to clarify his lyrics are “a lot more pointed. It’s definitely not nihilistic. That’s something that I’m opposed to. I hate that aspect in hip-hop or SoundCloud rap, singing about being fucked up. It’s a waste of energy and a waste of breath to even say whatever the fuck they are saying.”
Even the name of the band evokes all kinds of commentary about everything from the art on the record to the future of mankind. The moniker implies a stage of ecological disaster where humans have stripped the world of everything good and now have to seek out another habitat for our inhumanity.
The name also hints a way of thinking (Plan B, if you will), one that seeks to reconstitute our thoughts and learn to live less selfishly across all realms. For years, Pearson has constantly preached a mindset of “UFTW” (“unfuck the world”), saying that the nihilist attitude that’s fueled punk circles for decades has to come to an end. Don’t confuse his concern with getting soft: While he admits the band name might sound steeped in sci-fi camp, it now sounds completely on point in today’s current political climate.
“There’s definitely a political message and certainly an environmental message,” he begins. “I do think there’s a thematic element to the record where this is sort of the end of humanity: We’re not going to exist. You and I will live our lives out, but on the grand scheme of existence, in the universe or the planet? We’re fucking done, man. We’ve fucked this thing up pretty good. And that’s the theme of it. Humans have reached extinction. We’ve taken the whole planet and fucked it up, with no concern about anything but ourselves.
“I don’t want to be nihilistic, and I don’t want to be pessimistic,” he continues. “But there’s an element of realism there that we’re fucked. Maybe the pessimism is really there to get people to get shit in gear. Not just, ‘Hey, let’s recycle.’ No. More like, ‘Let’s restructure the entire fucking system because we’re going to be gone before we know it.’ The next generation is going to feel it hardcore—if we get to that point.”
Check out the new video below.
“Mirror, Mirror On The World” is taken from Planet B’s self-titled. The album is available now via Ipecac Recordings.