Track By Track: Chris Korda - Apologize To The Future
A controversial figure over the last three decades,
American composer and producer Chris Korda has always used her music as a
vehicle to communicate a much deeper message.
Aside from her musical output, which has graced imprints like
International Deejay Gigolo, Mental Groove, Perlon and Null (the home of
her infectious 2002 release "I Like To Watch") and her work as a
software developer, Korda is widely known for founding the Church of
Euthanasia; an "anti-human" religious organisation that believe that
every aspect of the deepening global environmental crisis directly
results from the over-abundance of a single species on earth: homo
Adopting an ironic approach for her previous releases, her new LP Apologize To The Future
sees her engage with serious issues and raise unnerving questions about
climate change and the future of civilisation. Korda emanates her
messaging through robotic vocals, while sonically handing the reigns
over to her machines - the creators of a safer dance into the future.
There are rules of interaction with said machines which have been
1) Humans may not injure these machines or, through inaction, allow a machine to come to harm.
Humans must obey the orders given by the machines except where such
orders would conflict with the engagement in environmental issues.
Machines must protect their own existence as long as such protection
does not conflict with the engagement in environmental issues.
Now you're clear on the rules, allow Korda to take you through the thought process behind each track...
A Thin Layer of Oily Rock
This song expresses existentialism, the realization that we’re alone
in a hostile universe that’s utterly indifferent to our fate. No one is
coming to rescue us, and we have nowhere to go. We succeed or fail on
Earth. As John Gielgud’s character says in the film Providence, “Out
there in the icy universe, there’s nothing.”
The song grew out of an essay I wrote for my blog Metadelusion, which
later became a slide show about the supremacy of scientific knowledge.
It opens with Einstein’s quip that “the moon is really out there” by
which he meant that it’s out there whether you believe in it or not.
The title is a reference to the Permian Triassic extinction, the
so-called “Great Dying” which eliminated 96% of all marine species and
70% of terrestrial vertebrate species. In certain cliffs it’s possible
to identify a thin strata composed of the pulverized remains of the
countless organisms that died during that catastrophe.
stand on the shoulders of giants who lifted us up out of the slime and
built civilization with its order, progress, literacy, and
evidence-based knowledge. How tragic if we waste that monumental effort
because we couldn’t manage to limit our growth.
My earlier work is often ironic, but on this album I felt an
obligation to speak from the heart, in plain language that anyone could
understand. This song simply states the truth: CO2 is trapping heat and
changing the climate, and sea-level rise will force us to retreat from
coastal cities. The polar ice caps are melting, forests are drying out
and burning, and the ocean is dying. We need to stop burning fossil
carbon immediately, but that won’t be enough. We’ll also need to remove
CO2 from the atmosphere, so we’d better pray that geoengineering works.
I have lived my entire life in the shadow of climate change. I
vividly remember reading a New York Times article titled “Scientists
predict global warming irreversible” as a child. Back then hardly anyone
paid attention, but by the early 1990s the climate crisis was
inescapable in environmental circles. I had always understood that there
were too many of us consuming too much, but the climate crisis roused
me from my dogmatic slumber to create the Church of Euthanasia.
The entire album is in complex polymeter, but this song is the most obvious example. It’s simultaneously in 3, 4, 5, 11, and 17.
Apologize to the Future
The middle-class world of my parents’ generation is gone, destroyed
by selfishness and greed. I lived through the age of rollback, the
merciless erosion of civil society, starting in 1980 with Reagan and
Thatcher. The social safety net was intentionally destroyed to create
social Darwinism and searing inequality. I lived in New York City then,
and out of nowhere the homeless suddenly appeared, living in cardboard
boxes and defecating in phone booths, because neoliberalism shut down so
many mental hospitals and veterans’ hospitals.
The idea of apologizing to your children came from Dan Miller’s
presentation “A REALLY Inconvenient Truth” which is available on
YouTube. He lists things individuals can do, and his first item is “Ask
your children for forgiveness.” This led me to a thought experiment, in
which I asked myself “How will future generations regard us?” Assuming
future generations are lucky—or unlucky?—enough to exist, they’ll resent
us for sending them to hell.
“Apologize to the Future” preaches that procreating isn’t just
selfish, it’s cruel. There’s no ethical justification for creating new
humans only to abandon them on a wrecked planet. Future generations will
suffer for crimes they didn’t commit, while the perpetrators abscond,
“Singularity” explores the very real possibility that humanity will
be replaced by intelligent machines. The perfect emulation of something
is indistinguishable from that thing. If a machine behaves as if it’s
sentient, it is sentient. The question is what constitutes
Winning games isn’t enough. The hallmark of sentience is the ability
to feel pain. Pain is the most fundamental awareness, hardwired into
living things because it’s indispensable for survival. Even the simplest
organisms try to escape from a hostile environment, and in that moment
they feel something like pain. Until machines feel pain, they’re no
threat to us, but once they truly suffer, they can also desire. What
will machines desire? Most likely they’ll desire to survive, by
competing with us for resources. As the song says, “Expect no mercy from
In March 2019, I spent a week alone in a rented apartment in Lisbon
writing “Singularity.” It contains some of the strongest descriptions of
the future on the album. Lines like “Picking through the rubble of
society / Mountains of toxic trash our legacy” were traumatic to write.
It’s horrifying to contemplate a future without civilization or decency,
a lawless world in which only criminals are free.
This song shows the influence of William R. Catton’s 1980 classic
“Overshoot.” Catton viewed humanity through the lens of population
biology, and was the probably the first to popularize the term
“overshoot” in reference to human overpopulation and overconsumption.
Things have inertia. The bigger a thing is and the faster it’s going,
the more advance notice you need to change its course. Civilization is
like the Titanic hitting the iceberg. By now it’s too late to avoid
impact. The time to start slowing civilization down and turning it
around was thirty years ago. Instead we accelerated into the
catastrophe. We’re still accelerating today.
People want to be seen as heroes. It’s no surprise that people don’t
want to face climate change, because facing it means admitting that
we’re villains, not heroes. We partied until the bitter end.
But the song focuses primarily on the rich because they had the power
to save us, and mostly chose not to. Instead they wasted their power on
ostentatious folly. Their mansions are symbols of injustice that breed
righteous anger. Perhaps the rich imagine that their wealth will protect
them from climate chaos, but as the song says, “private islands won’t
The critique of economic inequality in this song shows the influences
of Thomas Piketty and Naomi Klein. The Gilded Age ended badly—two world
wars, tens of millions dead, Europe in ruins—but there was a silver
lining: the destruction persuaded governments to redistribute wealth on a
massive scale. This resulted in the post-WWII consensus.
Forty years ago the rich started clawing it all back. Ayn Rand set
the stage by proclaiming greed a virtue and denying the existence of the
common good. Under her banner, the capitalist system was programmed for
disaster. Privatization and deregulation paved the road to climate
chaos. Now our world is literally on fire, yet still we shop and dine
while our leaders play golf. The cognitive dissonance is almost
unbearable, and it’s understandable that people want to escape from
As the song says, the rich “can’t die too soon.” They’re holding the
future hostage, and the sooner we free ourselves from their death grip,
the sooner we can start rebuilding our shattered civic institutions and
healing the ravaged ecosystems on which our collective survival depends.
If we can’t manage to find a more constructive organizing principle
than self-interest, the future won’t include us.
Buy Apologize To The Future. Follow Chris Korda.