NOW AVAILABLE: Darcy James Argue's "Real Enemies"

New Amsterdam Records is excited to announce the release of Real Enemies, the third album from Brooklyn-based composer-bandleader Darcy James Argue and his innovative 18-piece big band Secret Society. Available today, the album is composed by Argue and is a 13-chapter exploration of America’s fascination with conspiracy theories; narratives behind the Red Scare, the Illuminati, Edward Snowden, and alien sightings are meticulously examined and interrogated through Argue’s dazzling score.

In anticipation for the release, WNYC's New Sounds interviewed Argue on the album and its influences, and Q2 Music premiered a video of the big band performing the track, "The Enemy Within." The New York Times wrote "the ingenuity and urgency of the music, as executed Mr. Argue’s state-of-the-art big band, couldn’t be clearer (or timelier)" and Stereogum praised it as possibly "the Secret Society's best album yet." The album was also previewed in The Boston Globe and Pitchfork, and Gear Gods premiered the track "Dark Alliance," calling it "the heaviest thing I’ve heard in a long time – and one that I can’t wait for you all to hear."

Real Enemies follows the group’s Grammy-nominated and widely praised albums Infernal Machines (2009) and Brooklyn Babylon (2013), and will be performed in full at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust on October 2 and Boston's Museum of Fine Arts on October 7.

Real Enemies premiered as a multimedia performance (co-created by Argue with writer/director Isaac Butler and filmmaker Peter Nigrini) to impressive acclaim at BAM’s 2015 Next Wave Festival. Taking its title from Kathryn Olmsted’s 2009 book Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11, the project is the product of extensive research into a broad range of conspiracies, from the familiar and well-documented to the speculative and outlandish. Real Enemies traces the historical roots, iconography, and language of conspiracies, and examines conspiratorial thinking as a distinct political ideology. It chronicles a shadow history of postwar America, touching on everything from COINTELPRO to the CIA-Contra cocaine trafficking ring, and secret weather control machines to reptilian shape-shifters from Alpha Draconis infiltrating our government at the highest level. Real Enemies invites the listener to explore and engage with the conspiratorial mindset. Argue explains: 

“Belief in conspiracies is one of the defining aspects of modern culture. It transcends political, economic, and other divides. Conservative or liberal, rich or poor, across all races and backgrounds there exists a conspiratorial strain of thought that believes there are forces secretly plotting against us. Conspiracy theories often take hold because they provide an explanation for disturbing realities. They tell a story about why the world is the way it is. Paradoxically, it’s often more comforting to believe that bad things happen because they are part of a hidden agenda than it is to believe that they came about as a result of mistakes, ineptitude, or random chance.”

As befitting a journey into postwar paranoia, Real Enemies draws heavily on 12-tone techniques, a compositional system based on tone rows — a sequence of all 12 pitches in the chromatic scale —  devised by Arnold Schoenberg in the aftermath of World War I and embraced by American composers  during the conspiracy-rich postwar era. However, Argue’s wide-ranging score exhibits a mischievous disregard for how those techniques have been traditionally deployed. Other musical touchstones include the paranoia-inducing film scores of Michael Small (The Parallax View) and David Shire (All The President’s Men), the revolutionary songs of Nicaraguan singer-songwriter Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy, the psychedelic space-jazz of Sun Ra, the FM synth-fueled grooves of early 1980’s LA electro funk-influenced hip hop, and much more. Significant pieces of spoken text from figures like JFK, Frank Church, George H. W. Bush, and Dick Cheney are expertly woven throughout the robust and provocative score, with a concluding voice-over narration provided by actor James Urbaniak. Real Enemies is an intense musical and sensory experience that spins and explores a web of paranoia and distrust, and resonates long after its last note.

Premiere of Real Enemies at Brooklyn Academy of Music. Photo by Noah Stern Weber.

Premiere of Real Enemies at Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Photo by Noah Stern Weber.

Real Enemies Tracklisting:

1. You Are Here
2. The Enemy Within
3. Dark Alliance
4. Trust No One
5. Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars
6. Best Friends Forever
7. The Hidden Hand
8. Casus Belli
9. Crisis Control
10. Apocalypse Is a Process
11. Never A Straight Answer
12. Who Do You Trust?
13. You Are Here (reprise)

Real Enemies Upcoming Performances:

10/2 - National Sawdust - Brooklyn, NY
10/7 - Museum of Fine Arts - Boston, MA

Real Enemies Album Personnel:

Dave Pietro - piccolo, flute, alto flute, bass flute, soprano sax, alto sax
Rob Wilkerson - flute, clarinet, soprano sax, alto sax
Sam Sadigursky - E clarinet, B clarinet, A clarinet, tenor sax
John Ellis - clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor sax
Carl Maraghi - clarinet, bass clarinet, baritone saxophone 

Seneca Black - trumpet, flugelhorn
Jonathan Powell - trumpet, flugelhorn
Matt Holman - trumpet, flugelhorn
Nadje Noordhuis - trumpet, flugelhorn
Ingrid Jensen - trumpet, flugelhorn

 Mike Fahie - trombone
Ryan Keberle - trombone
Jacob Garchik - trombone, tuba
Jennifer Wharton - bass trombone, tuba 

Sebastian Noelle - acoustic & electric guitar
Adam Birnbaum - acoustic & electric piano, FM synth
Matt Clohesy - contrabass & electric bass, bass synth
Jon Wikan - drum set, cajón, misc. percussion 

James Urbaniak - narrator on Who Do You Trust? and You Are Here reprise
Darcy James Argue - composer, conductor