Massive Attack and Damon Albarn paired up recently on the track "Saturday Come Slow" (off MA's latest album, Heligoland). The video for the song is an eight-minute protest against the use of music torture in prisons. I suppose if you were a musician and knew your music was being used to torture people, you might be a bit miffed yourself. (Interestingly, members of Metallica have laughed off the use of their music in Gitmo.) The main issue, of course, is the violation of basic human rights—not the choice of music. Everything from Britney Spears to Barney to speed metal has been used on detainees. Massive Attack's video stresses the damage prisoners suffer when exposed to certain decibels of any music for long periods.
You can watch the video on Feeder.
I play my music too loudly in the car and on my iPod. I don't consider it torture. But what if I had to endure Christina Aguilera at high volume for days on end? I think I'd be more than peeved.
(Music torture Clockwork style.)
So what brings all of this on? Turns out Massive Attack is part of the worldwide Zero dB initiative that seeks to raise awareness of and end the use of music as psychological torture. They're joined in their efforts by Rage Against the Machine, David Grey, Pearl Jam, Trent Reznor, R.E.M., and others whose music has been used at Gitmo on captured "enemy combatants." The UN has banned the use of music torture under its Convention Against Torture, etc., but the Convention has been largely unenforced.
In the video, the song itself takes a back burner to images of a former prisoner describing his two days of music torture, but what we hear of "Saturday Come Slow" is typical Massive Attack: dark, forbidding, and growling with barely suppressed menace—a watchdog at the door of human rights.