Words: James Frostick

Rory Maxwell – aka SERF – is releasing a fresh cut from his forthcoming debut album All You Need In Life Is Someone To Love And Your Family. On ‘Restoration’ SERF examines the pitfalls of technological over-reliance in the modern world via his enlivening brand of bedroom-crafted synth-rock.

Becoming slaves to machines or an evil supercomputer/AI is a common dystopian sci-fi trope, but one that slowly inches closer to becoming a reality as we push technological boundaries. As with all things, there’s a range of differing ideas on how technology will eventually control us – from heightened surveillance levels and removal of privacy to the purposeful eradication of organic life via murderous titanium-clad robo exterminators. We’re further honing virtual-reality science to create digital worlds to inhabit, all the while simulation theory hypothesises that we’re already existing within a digital construct. It’s enough to make you want to put down our phones and detox, but soon enough we find ourselves plonked back in front of a screen. Like it or not, we’re beholden to tech – so it’s funny that the newest song about digital assimilation comes from and artist called SERF. While we’re hundreds of years removed from feudal serfdom, it seems like we’ve unwittingly become indentured servants to a more subtle technological overlord.

SERF (the pseudonym of multi-instrumentalist Rory Maxwell from Naarm/Melbourne) has dropped a new track called ‘Restoration’ – an invigorating number packing a sound that belies its humble bedroom composition. For a one-man band, the track feels lush and fully realised – from the iridescent and synth pulses and a healthy bass strum to the luminous guitar licks and SERF’s own resonant vocals. SERF’s stylistic palate boasts a mix of piercing post-punk and radiant synth-pop – like a lovechild of New Order and TV Colours, or something. Retro futurism meets nostalgia-heavy ‘nowness’, if that makes sense. Over the soaring sonics SERF positions himself as the titular ‘restoration’ – a giant simulation urging us to relinquish our hold before it confiscates our minds. What is SERF promising by restoration? A digital utopia? A chance to live forever within a stress-free simulated existence?  He makes a tempting offer, though no doubt it comes with fine print. I doubt many musos could make giving up the ghost in favour of an uninhibited existence in cyberspace sound so uplifting, but SERF has cracked it. Depending on how you hear it, ‘Restoration’ can be the anthem to our digitised transcendence or a warning against the insidious allure of technological reliance.

Keep your ears peeled for SERF’s forthcoming album All You Need In Life Is Someone To Love And Your Family – dropping July 10.