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The album The Ten Commandments alludes to John Carpenter’s film released in 1988, They Live, which tells the hero’s awareness and struggle, John Nada, facing aliens infiltrated into human society to enslave and exploit it. According to his director, but also according to the commonly admitted explanation, this narrative expresses metaphorically the struggle against capitalism, and thus the struggle of the classes.
However, the inspiration in relation to this film is limited to the cult scene during which the hero discovers all over the city, in advertising, signage and in the media subliminal messages, thus invisible to everyone but destined to influence the actions and thoughts of everybody. These are injunctions each in the form of one or two words, among which nine, the main and most highlighted, were retained to give a title to nine of the ten commandments of the album and inspire the music in the same thematic as the cinematographic work. And the tenth commandment, will you ask? It was added to update the original injunctions in relation to modern capitalism: “Enjoy Unfettered” which corresponds to a slogan produced during the student revolt of May 1968 in France, then diverted from its first meaning by its putting into practice destined to better enslave.
The principle of The Ten Commandments is of course its source in the biblical narrative telling how God gave Moses the tables of the law in which the Decalogue appears. If one can see a critique of religion, the substitution of capitalist injunctions for that of the Bible also reflects the progressive replacement of religion by the ideology of liberal commercial society.
The album ends with a finale, which contradicts and defies the Ten Commandments preceding it and is entitled “Awake”. It is the continuation of the overture, entitled “Revolt”, which appears in the first position, as it should be. This call to awakening can be understood as spiritual, philosophical or political. Nevertheless, the finale is the only music that is given sung lyrics, more precisely one sung word, “Kamarado”, which means “comrade” in Esperanto. The use of this universal language makes it possible to accentuate the internationalist character of the word and thus to affirm its political significance.
Differences are noted in the style of the music according to the piece. That of the commandments Obey, Submit and Work reflects the violence that exists in domination and production relations. The music of the overture, Revolt, responds to this violence by the same style of music, however less oppressive, lighter.
Each of the twelve pieces has a meaning, not only given by the title, but also by the music itself, which can follow a semantic scheme or express an idea by its entirety. Thus, in Awake appears at the beginning a reedy singing of soprano, without word, and accompanied by some notes played by a clarinet, expressing an isolated, sad and vain complaint. Then occurs a passage with a form of repeated dissonance, referring to a form of awakening. This refers to the song of the French artist Maxime the Forester, Petit Robot, more precisely to the last quatrain:
Les deux fils qui sont dans ta tête,
Tu les feras se rencontrer
Ou bien tu feras tout sauter
Ou bien tu deviendras poète.
(The two wires that are in your head,
you will make them meet
or you will blow up everything
or you will become a poet.)
There is, however, a third possibility to the alternative offered here, the one that follows the dissonance in Awake, and which comes in the form of a powerful and hudge chant, taking up the small original thin melody, thus transforming the complaint from the beginning into a strong movement, and singing “Kamarado”, accompanied by moment of a section of brass that contrasts with the small clarinet from the beginning while playing the same notes molted in chords.