Warning: Explicit lyrics.
The first song from new D.C. electronic trio Brutalism was a tough act to follow: “Friday Night (Home Invasion)” told a story about a gruesome murder, backed by a soundtrack of Italo-kissed synth-pop. But its newest song, “New Empire,” could be even more demented: It imagines a ruthless imperial order that mandates public death matches, self-immolation and lots of sex, and ties it all up with Soviet electro.
The song started with an idea from Brutalism member Zach Carter, according to his bandmate Gavin Holland. “Then we had to figure out a sonic direction to go in,” Holland writes in an email. “All came together when we threw in a new synth we got that’s American-made, but retrofitted with Soviet electronics.”
Lyrically, this one is as twisted as “Friday Night (Home Invasion),” which seems to be the theme Brutalism is going for. “As far as the lyrics go, the language of imperialism has always been seductive and absurd all at once, and this song definitely reflects that,” Holland writes.
The video had to match the tone, says Holland. So Brutalism borrowed from vintage film, combining images of steely industry, Western urbanization and hoards of Greco-Roman-era slaves.
“We are talking about empires, so we wanted it to come off as massive,” Holland writes. “CGI didn’t cut it for us, so we chose to do something with thousands of actual human extras.”