My Thoughts on “Glossolalia (The Harsh Sounds of the Internet)” by Teenage Granny

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The Incomprehensible Language of the Internet

No, this is not a review. These are just some thoughts I had while listening to Teenage Granny aka Alyana Cabral’s EP Glossolalia. As she describes it, “Glossolalia (The Harsh Sounds of the Internet) is a collection of raw sounds of random Internet data (html files, photos, text, etc). These contents have been converted, translated, and databended into audio using a variety of programs. The result is harsh…”

And, my goodness, it is definitely harsh. The first time I listened to it I said, “There doesn’t seem to be any music”. I thought it was just a collection of really unpleasant, annoying, and painful technological sounds that felt like the aural equivalent of barbed wire. I couldn’t even call it “music” the first time I listened to it. I mean, there are no melodies. There are no chord progressions. There are no instruments. The “vocalist”, really, is a robotic Siri-esque narrator monotonously and unnervingly reciting HTML code and Javascript. That didn’t feel like music to me.

But then, I started thinking about the EP. I listened to it once, twice, and a third time. I sat, thought, then finally concluded, “Yes, this might actually be music.” But, exactly what kind of music?

Well, the EP may sound totally distasteful, but the very sounds you are listening to…that’s the music of the Internet. It’s not just a collection of bleeps, bloops, hisses, buzzes, and Siri-esque android narrations. It’s the very sound and music of the Internet – a jarring raucous resembling the lullabies of hell.

But there’s also so much beneath the surface – a deeper meaning. Teenage Granny describes the EP as a “defining of our online culture and consumption.” I thought about that and tried to put the pieces together.

Then I realized that we humans do have a terrible addiction to technology. A lot of the modern world just couldn’t keep their eyes off their phones. Everyone is so stuck to the screen that they couldn’t understand what exists outside of it. These harsh sounds of the Internet that were once incomprehensible have become kind of like a second language to us.

I looked at myself, my thoughts and my heart, and realized that my existence has been shaped and formed by technology. I couldn’t live a single day without my phone or the Internet. Technology has become such a vital part of my humanity that I couldn’t even call it “human” anymore. I’m so attached to technology that it has become like a body part to me; I could not function without it…and that’s just awful!

You see, I live in Chicago. And Chicago is a beautiful city with such breathtaking views, terrific people, and mind-blowing architecture. Yet every time I walk down the city streets I’m an emotionless zombie looking down at a magical black box, interacting with codes and software, whilst ignoring and disregarding the environment, people, and city around me. I have replaced human interaction with my iPhone.

Also, I am so ashamed to even call myself a musician when I actually do prefer the comfort of my computer and bookshelf speakers over the vitality of real, live music performed by real, living people. I’m thankful that, just recently, I decided to start doing gigs – an environment where I actually get to meet and interact with people who love music as much as I do. And now, because of Teenage Granny’s EP, I’ve decided to up my game and do so much more live shows in the future.

And I’m sure I’m not alone in facing these troubles. I’m sure that there are a lot of people in the world who feel as enslaved to technology as I do. And, really, we are the builders of our technological world, and so we must be the masters and not the mastered. We shouldn’t be oppressed by the creation of our hands.

On the bright side, Aly continues to describe her EP, “We struggle to hear through this raucous nebula but through critical subtraction and selection, our plights and intentions will be heard, whether we are speaking for ourselves, or for those without a voice.”

The thing with technology is that, in and of itself, it’s actually a good thing. Because of technology, I was able to travel miles upon miles so easily, from the Philippines to the States, and pursue an education here. It’s also very easy to keep in touch with my family and friends in the Philippines, thanks to social media. Even in our jobs, technology is so vital. And also when it comes to advocating for social, political, and cultural causes – and especially in fighting “for those without a voice” – the Internet is a platform where we could speak our voices and build towards a better future.

The Internet is definitely a blessing, and it only becomes a curse if you allow it to be one. That is why we should use the Internet and technology as an instrument. Whether it’s for your social life, entertainment, education, career, or nation’s well-being, our technology could be a means for progress and advancement.

Thanks to the brilliant Alyana Cabral, I never would’ve delved so deep into these very meaningful and complex questions about what it means to live as a human being in a world where technology just never seems to stop making strides. I mean, your phone can now recognize how you look like! That’s just insane.

You see, true art makes you think; it makes you feel. That’s why, despite the jarring and unsettling nature of Glossolalia EP, I still think it’s a piece of art because it made me ask deep questions and feel emotions. I could even say that the EP made a huge impact in my life.

That’s what true art does to you. It makes an impact.

Aly Cabral’s Harsh Sounds of the Internet is a language that no human could understand or speak, a voice beyond comprehension, one unique piece of artistry that I never thought would exist. It’s frightening to know that all the cries of keyboard warriors and all the codes of YouTube cat videos are blended into sharp technoaural accents that produce a very baffling form of music. Yet, it’s even more frightening to know that this incomprehensible language has become our own.

Definitely, the Internet does have a voice, a sound, a music. Yet, it’s audial form still sounds pretty harsh. And I’m not sure if I want to see what it looks like in physical form.

 

Drop the phone. Shut it down. Stand up and hug someone right now. Compliment them and go for coffee or something. Do not be technology’s slave. Tell them who’s boss. Do not allow technology to replace the beauty of human interaction and personal relationships.

There’s so much more to life than the screen, so go out and live it.

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