Macro/micro – Clicks

I’ve written about Los Angeles native Tommy Simpson a couple of times before. Most recently, I wrote about the excellent scores he did for the short film R.A.E.R BETA 0027 and the VoE collection for Lever Couture, respectively. And in 2022, I covered his brilliant album Things Will Never Be The Same Again, which was on heavy rotation for me last year.

His latest is Clicks, an EP that is without doubt my favorite work from him thus far. As song titles like “Follow” and “Like and Subscribe” allude to, it’s a refreshingly direct tongue-in-cheek comment on what Simpson describes as the “hellscape of our social media dystopia.” Initially written as a single 9 min+ composition, Simpson chose to then break the song into four smaller movements—a reasonable choice given the subject matter, where short-form is king. He’s also included a compressed edit of the whole record, which he names the TLDR edit (though it might have been more fitting to say TLDL).

On each of the movements of Clicks, Simpson repeats a set of incantations, voiced through a guttural vocoder:

Just click on the screen, it’s so easy to be, someone else’s dream / just click on the screen, it’s so easy, no need for agency / just click on the screen, you can’t disagree, there is no resisting

I’m someone who really wants to avoid social media, but nonetheless gets pulled into its dopamine loop. I’m also someone who prides myself on my willpower, having managed to set down most of my vices in mid-adulthood, but I find it agonizingly hard to keep myself off socials. It’s so easy as a creative person to justify succumbing to its continued pull in the name of self-promotion, but actually promoting myself and my work is the easiest part to avoid. It’s the consumption that’s so seductive. Anything from sex, to GAS, to DIY, to inspiration/tragedy porn and Mr. Beast-style charity porn, even to enjoying legitimately wonderful individual expressions of art that deserve a place in our collective consciousness—it all gets reduced and distilled, presented as if it’s all of equal value.

None of my hip-fire thoughts here are novel or particularly original, but Simpson’s take on this subject is resonant. He seems to be framing the tragedy of web 2.0 less as a 1984-type dystopia where our data is harvested, and we lose our sense of (or actual) privacy in service of some behemothic Brother. Instead, the aesthetic tone of the record—which sounds like it was written inside a sewer tunnel by manipulating the natural resonances of cast iron pipes and rat footsteps—seems more of a comment on the diminution of our sense of self (or at least the extent to which our sense of self is actually self-generated). There’s no real enemy pointed to here, what’s important is illustrating the comic/tragedy of our individually sad, separate, and ultimately lonely experiences under the dull light of our devices.

Support Simpson’s work by purchasing the record on bandcamp (after all, we must still monetize our “product” for maximum profit, we have little choice). You can also stream it on spotify or whatever, and help him earn a few fractions of a penny.

Macro/micro – “Like and Subscribe” (sc)

Macro/micro – “Clicks” (all four movements) (bc)


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