Few fans have suffered as long as the followers of Deltron 3030. Sure, Fiona Apple fans have been left waiting 6 or 7 years between albums. But it’s been 13 years since the original Deltron 3030 was released/unleashed upon the world. So was it worth the wait? Is the sequel as good as the original? Well…
I hate to start it like that, but the answer is just no, not quite. It’s still a good album, but I think the bar was set impossibly high by the original. And, considering all the rumors and tidbits from interviews over the years that promised the album was coming “soon,” I think the concept just kind of fell apart over those 13 years. It got put back together again, but the original vision was lost somewhere along the way.
Event II picks up 10 years (in story time) after its predecessor. Joseph Gordon Levitt narrates the intro, describing a world that has fallen into disarray and despair during our heroic duo’s absence. (The heroic duo being Deltron Zero and Dan the Automator, of course.) Then one day, they return. In the cinematic first track, Del describes the state of the planet, a strange new world to him now. Anarchy has overthrown the government, but not in the way he originally envisioned. Criminals rule the land, which has been utterly destroyed by nuclear war. Technology, which was once supposed to create a bright future, has now sent the people back to a more primitive and lawless era. Imagine the Wild West set in a post-nuclear fallout landscape. Music has now been banned completely, and nobody seems to care. Del steps forward now, no longer the rebel he once was but a messiah of sorts.
It all paints a wonderful picture, and as the album progresses, the tracks get even better. But overall, the story just isn’t as strong. I haven’t been able to figure it out yet. I get that Del is dismayed by the audacity of the criminals he encounters and shocked by the complacency of the people who just accept the world the way it is. But it doesn’t have that same structure as the first album. There’s no final showdown/conflict and resolution that I can make out.
Still, the album is very ambitious, and littered with guest appearances by celebrities and fellow musicians. My favorite tracks have been “My Only Love” (featuring Emily Wells), “What Is This Loneliness” (with Damon Albarn), and “Do You Remember” (with Jamie Cullum).The spoken interludes featuring Amber Tamblyn and David Cross are delightfully hilarious. Chef David Chang’s bit may be my favorite though. He goes on and on about how great technology is and how it’s created the most amazing culinary concoctions…and yet his customers only want beet salads and pork buns. It really solidifies that picture of a future where people are satisfied with mediocrity. They’re comfortable with mediocrity, and who knows what will happen if they step out of that comfort zone? Maybe something good, but maybe something bad too. Better to stick with what they know.
All things considered, the thematic contrast between Deltron 3030 and Event II reminds me a bit of this infographic comparing the different futures predicted by George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. To me, they match up respectively. For that reason, I think that Event II is worth a listen.