“Algorithm” by Makeup and Vanity Set

In the video for Makeup and Vanity Set’s new single, an algorithm reveals a man’s darkest secrets.

Makeup and Vanity Set have announced a new album titled Endless Destiny, and one of the first singles is “Algorithm,” a Daft Punk-ish number full of funky rhythms and roboticized vocals. (Surprise, surprise… I love it.) The single is accompanied by a Saman Kesh-directed music video — which you can watch above — in which a man gets into a fight with an e-commerce chatbot that quickly spirals out of control, revealing his darkest secrets.

Interestingly, the video’s twist is that the chatbot’s victim is actually a pretty terrible guy: he’s a racist who’s into conspiracy theories and Asian porn/hentai. (Note: You should probably consider the video NSFW, just to be safe.) In other words, he’s the type of person that good, upstanding people like you and me want to see exposed, shamed, and even arrested.

But as Kesh’s video unfolds, driven by Makeup and Vanity Set’s pulsing synthwave, it seems to raise the question of whether or not such exposure is, in fact, a good thing if done by faceless chatbots and algorithms. As the chatbot shames and humiliates its victim at the video’s end, we’re left with an uneasy feeling. Are we truly comfortable with algorithms that know everything about our lives, especially our deepest, darkest, and most disturbing aspects, and can use them against even the worst of us?

Makeup and Vanity Set’s Matthew Pusti describes Endless Destiny as “a soundtrack to the loneliness of scrolling through the endless space of social media, the endless websites and chat bots, the destiny amidst endless destines.” More: “We came to age believing the future would be controlled by mega corps and Skynet AI, but instead we got a multibillion dollar algorithm that exploits the social constructs of racism and outrage as a business model.”

Endless Destiny will be released by Data Airlines on September 25, 2020 on digital, vinyl, and cassette formats.

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