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3RDegree - Ones & Zeros - Volume 1 CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.11 | 366 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Ones & Zeros is a futuristic concept album by 3Rdegree. It's about a company named Valhalla Biotech and its development of a life extension process. The process isn't exactly clear as one point mentions that there's "an elixir station near you".

"There's no reason to delay a once inevitable expiration date."

Later on, a computer voice announces that the client might feel something akin to sleep, which is a result of the process where layers of the old brain are peeled, 3 dimensionally scanned, and then discarded.

The first song (but not first track), "The Gravity" mentions the Singularity concept, which as I understand it is when humans and technology integrate to make us first enhanced and ultimately transhuman. The song states that our bodies are just hotels for the mind. There's a math joke in there too: my thoughts are all just ones and zeros and I'm already primed.

Arguments against such a possible future are addressed in "This is the Future": "Every gadget's an extension of my motives and my ego and now that I have totally invested I'd be a fool to not upgrade." The person in the lyrics says that his credit card is built into his brain. Many today might scoff at the notion of giving up at least a portion of our biological selves to computers and machines; however, some say the Singularity is already here as we are already thoroughly dependent upon gadgets both internal and external. It's easy for us to progress to the point where we become entirely dependent on technology because we have been heading that way for a long time.

The music is a wonderful mix of progressive pop, progressive rock, and a great use of vocal arrangements plus some light jazzy bits. This is my first 3Rdegree album and the easiest comparison I can make is to Moon Safari. Though 3Rdegree have been around for quite some time (first album 1993 but I believe they disbanded and reformed around 2008), I only just found out about them while looking at the PA Top 100 Albums of 2015.

The story develops toward the darker side. In "Life at Any Cost", we hear a report about 139-year-old Roland Everlong, a leading proponent of Valhalla Biotech's life extension program, witnessing his son's death by old age. In "We Regret to Inform You" the cold non-human side manifests itself as the client receives a courtesy call from Valhalla Biotech, stating in an unsympathetic computerized voice, "Your economy level family sentience transferral process has crashed due to anomalous delta wave activity. At this point we regret to inform you that your father has been fragmented." The poor father's defragmentation process encounters a polymorphic virus and he's put into stasis quarantine. Finally, a third call announces, "Your scheduled sentience transfer was unsuccessful. Your father slipped his allocation matrix. We regret to inform you that your father has been deleted." The track concludes with the wonderfully ironic corporate catch phrase, "Valhalla Biotech and You: A Singular Relationship".

As you can probably gather from my review so far, the story has caught my imagination, especially since a few years ago I read a book by Ray Kurzweil called " The Singularity is Near". But the music is also terrific with a good variety. I'll admit that I probably wouldn't have been hooked on the music alone after a cursory listen. But now having listened to the album a few times, I can appreciate the music as much as the story and the concerns for the future presented in the lyrics and story.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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