Premiere: Digits – What You Got

Digits - In The City Of The Dead cover art

It’s just a month since we last heard from Digits, with the stellar, Au Palais-featuring “Last Trip”, but he has not been idle in that time. Far from it: he’s put together a concept album’s worth of new material – all to be released by the end of the year, with the next instalment just in time for Hallowe’en. Neat trick and treat.

The concept, in Alt’s own words, is something like The Warriors meets Escape From New York meets zombies, which sounds pretty great to me. Each track tells one chapter of the story, In The City Of The Dead. The prologue, which was first featured over on 20jazzfunkgreats:

J, a journalist, watches as fascism begin to creep over the city, but can’t do anything to stop it. Anger and rage are encouraged by politicians seeking to solidify their power, and police turn a blind eye to gang activity. The streets are no longer safe as the gangs become increasingly armed and emboldened. But then one gang’s plan to upset the balance of power goes terribly awry, and brings about a zombie outbreak. There are mass casualties, including J’s wife, and society breaks down.

The city is quarantined from the rest of the world, not to be nuked, but to be contained and forgotten. The gangs become the power, rule the City of the Dead, and extort anything they want from the helpless. Innocents continually suffer at the hands of zombies and gangs.

J is forced to fall back on his previous life as a synthpop musician, and convinces the largest of the gangs to protect him in exchange for John Carpenter soundtracks of their nefarious activities. He becomes the witness and chronicler of the City of the Dead, and a cynical survivor who kills when forced to.

But he remains torn by guilt, that he should have been a greater man, that he could have prevented all this. That maybe he can still turn it around. How will it all end? What kind of life will he manage to find for himself IN THE CITY OF THE DEAD???

I liked that – particularly the nod to John Carpenter. If you’re reminded of Starcadian, you’re not alone, and like Starcadian – as well as Digits‘ own back-catalogue – the music sounds awesome.

“What You Got” finds us at Chapter 3 of the story. You can catch up on 1 and 2 at Dummy and We All Want Someone To Shout For respectively. Here’s the plot for this component:

Is it a war now? Would it be appropriate to call it a war? How else can we describe this?

A Mona Lisa. I hadn’t seen him in the neighbourhood before.”I’m gonna make it mine,” he said.

Was he talking to me?

“You heard me,” he was now staring at me. “All of it. All mine.”

I can run pretty fast now.

It’s time to face the facts. We have to leave the city. But where will we go? Where will we find work? It doesn’t matter, I guess – simply surviving is quickly becoming our only priority.

Musically, the track – hell, the whole project – is a lot more aggressive than Digits‘ usual ice-cool synthpop, but it’s the perfect complement to the narrative. Needless to say, the production is top notch. My only complaint is that I now have a burning desire to watch Kurt Russell films. There goes my evening.

Check out “What You Got” below, and keep your eyes peeled for the next parts coming soon…

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