Crazy Smart, Haunting Art for the Digital Age

Being in the information technology industry, I’m often hip-deep in data all day long. My primary release, my life counter-balance, has long been music. Playing it myself, and enjoying what others have created.

I have never before seen a juxtaposition of these two sides of my life. Until now.

Vienna Teng, one of my favorite singer-songwriters, has just released a new album, “Aims,” and on that album is a head-spinning gem of a track titled “The Hymn of Axciom.” Having done some work at the company, I was pretty sure this was a direct reference (who else would misspell it so badly?). I was immediately intrigued. Then, I listened. And I was blown away.

Axciom, you see, is a long-time specialist in knowing everything there is to know about you. Long before the days of Twitter and Facebook, and the tracking of online purchases at Amazon and eBay, Axciom was there, monitoring credit purchases, and making lots of money gathering and selling all the data it could. About all of us. Of course, now that we have all rushed headlong into the Online Era, the data companies like Axciom have, about nearly all of us, is staggering.

It turns out that Vienna Teng, who took a little break from recording to further her studies at the U. of Michigan, was working with some reports from Axciom, and began reflecting on where we’ve come as a society. And wrote a song about it.

But not just a song. A hymn. A beautiful, labyrinthine, a cappella, digital-processing-laced, goosebump-inducing homage to the data-wielding, micro-marketing powers that be. It is at once gorgeous and terrifying; immersing and revealing.

And, thanks to this same digital era, available to all, at no cost. Not the final, fully-mastered version, but a first-cut demo that is nearly as wonderful and eerie as the final cut it eventually became.

Check it out. Listen to it, and read the lyrics (they’re on the same page). I bet you can’t listen just once. And afterwards, I bet you’ll be a little more aware (and wary) of those ads down the right side of your Facebook page.

You can find it here.

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