Christina Schneider – the mastermind behind Locate S,1 – examines what it is to be human in 2020 on her brilliantly conceived and creative new album, ‘Personalia’.
Christina Schneider, the mastermind behind Locate S,1, is not one easy to pigeon-hole because she exists in multiple spheres and dimensions. Her music cuts across not just multiple genres but also various time periods. Her voice is similarly adaptable, changing octaves and its delivery to fit the occasion. To call her a chameleon of her craft would misrepresent her genius. She is, instead, a mad-scientist that takes the inconceivable and makes it possible. In addition, she’s the rare artist that is willing to challenge our perceptions of what is acceptable, and on her new album, Personalia, she brilliantly and creatively explores what it is to be human in 2020.
Schneider tackles how technology and mass media have completely changed our perceptions of what it is to be human. They have altered our sense of individuality, as the outrageous gets recognized more than thought-provoking ideas or art. Where the act of swiping left and right is more meaningful than interaction. And for that matter, where human interaction does not even need to happen with another person. The album commences with the gentile and drifting ” Sanctimitus Detrimitus”, which addresses non-human relationships. Her voice resembles an A.I., as do her lyrics. She asks at first, “What if we’re lost to the wind? What if we were born in the orbital spin?” She saves her more poignant question for later, as the emotional cyborg ponders, “Who will know me when you’re gone now that you’re my freedom?”
The opener is just a taste of Locate S,1’s artistic brilliance. On “Whisper 2000”, Schneider bridges the 20th and 21st Centuries, spinning a New Wave-influenced intro that segues into bewildering territories of nu-disco, electro-pop, and art rock. Schneider’s storyline ties everything together as she, through a more human version of an OnStar A.I., describes her battles against conformity:
“Whisper 2000, that’s what I am
Just a magazine, don’t think you know who advises me (no one)
Too pink to be gray, too good to be pink, too dumb to think
I could have been a hologram.”
Schneider’s brilliance reaches another level on the absorptive and immersive “Personalia”. It’s one part disco, another part ’70s dance-punk, and equal parts ’80s pop and ’90s Brit-pop. The entire concoction is a little weird, but it is incredibly fun and catchy. Through the delirium, the Athens, Georgia-based artist shares a specific moment in 2018 when she almost said goodnight forever. Her first words are: “Almost killed myself so I went home / I just cannot take these local shows”. She, though, overcomes her fears, the naysayers, and the internet trolls.
“Plug in tonight when I get to my room
Pretend I’m someone that I could believe in
I’ve shorted out, but if I play long enough
I’ll become the person that I wanna be again.”
There are playful moments on the album as well. On the off-kilter, soothing electro-pop of “After the Final Rose”, Schneider takes a clever shot at how relationships have been deduced to whether one receives a rose or not (think The Bachelor and The Bachelorette). The dreamy, ’60s-esque folk atmosphere of “Community Porn” masks Schneider’s sharp tongue. Whereas the ’60s was the decade of sexual liberation, the 2010s and now 2020 is the age where people retreat alone to their room. Or as Schneider depicts this place, “Your cage will be furnished with the fibers of optical peace”.
On the upbeat, art-rock / synth-rock whirlwind that is “Hot Wife”, Schneider is more explicit on today’s superficial desires. Connections are not important as long as your partner is smoking attractive. But no matter how hot your partner is, intimacy is still needed or the relationship becomes stale. For some, they need to use “Classical Toys”, which is a spinning, rambunctious piece of alternative disco-pop. It is wildly dizzying and infectious, yet through the glittering lights shines Schneider’s sharp words.
“Now the audience knowing he’s a femme fatale
Isn’t suddenly fun but with classical toys in the mix
Maybe we could get along a long time.”
The danceable, searing art-rock masterpiece, “Even the Good Boys Are Bad”, is even more piercing in its lyrical poignancy. Schneider casts her scornful gaze on so-called “good guys”, whose intentions are anything but good. Every woman knows guys like this; every man thinks they aren’t like this. The truth is that: “Even the good boys are bad, even the best ones. Even the good sons, even the good ones are bad.”
Personalia comes to a close on more subdue notes. The delicate, stripped-back “Hello” centers on Schneider’s layered voice, which takes on an angelic tone. Whether she is speaking as a human or an A.I. is unknown, but her message of being not valued and feeling insignificant applies in both situations. She says with little emotion, “Hello whole world, I’m lost too / Hello whole world, I have nothing to give to you”.
The ’70s-inspired folk tune, “Futureless Hives of Bel-Air”, meanwhile, closes the record. Sounding like Mary Chapin Carpenter, Schneider imagines a world free of expectations and false idealism. A world where people are truly free to be who they are and are valued for it. No one judges them nor asks them to conform to an image. This is a place where we all can live again, and this is a thought that we can all aspire to achieve with Schneider leading the way.
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