Gross Net is the experimental electronic project from ex-Girls Names guitarist Philip Quinn he recently released his album Gross Net Means Gross Net via Felte. Textured, ominous and enveloping his songs contain weighty themes that meditate on the dystopia, alienation, capitalism, climate change and the gentrification of urban landscapes.
“No one would be shocked to hear that I obsess somewhat about Capitalism, and I’ve a lot of anxiety to this day about the environment and the way the world is to the extent that I was like “what’s the point in all this?” when I first tried to write the album in late 2016/ early 2017.”
Philip finishing the record early last year, taking time off work to do so: “I felt like I had to do it to retain some semblance of identity, that I wasn’t just some minimum wage pen pusher or something. So, needing to come up with lyrics I thought back to those apocalyptic sounds and imagined this near future dystopia with an even further degraded environment where we huff cans of air bought online from Amazon like the Perri-Air in Mel Brook’s Spaceballs.”
Light Introduction (For Will)
I hadn’t realised I had a Mellotron emulator on my laptop, so this was birthed from playing around with that. I picked a chord, then moved some of its notes up or down the register on a whim just to see what sort of progression could be made. I think it turned out quite well, quite sweet. It was an attempt to do something a bit more light-hearted to throw off anyone familiar with my previous releases and was named as such for a) sounding light, b) being the start of the record, of course and c) as somewhat of a riposte to a reviewer called Will, who complained that my previous album Quantitative Easing was unrelentingly dark. I thought I might start some sort of beef as a joke but chickened out a bit, I didn’t want to be taken as being sincere.
World of Confusion
This started out much more verbose and musically grandiose before having quite a bit of fat trimmed from it. I turned myself off with the obvious political pot shots so decided to hone in, be a bit more specific, find an image and use repetition for the sake of emphasis much like my friend Ruth Bate does with his texts. That inspiration was refugees crossing the mediterranean, whose struggles symbolise most of what is wrong in the world these days. My favourite parts of this track all include the aforementioned Mellotron emulation.
Originally more akin to a Depeche Mode track, I slowed this down and ripped out most of the drum hits to darken it up having thought it was too poppy. Given such light-hearted lyrical themes as alienation and not being overcome by it it’s anyone’s guess as to why. This track in particular brings back some bad memories of drinking too much and generally feeling uncomfortable in my skin… But what about those descending piano arpeggios in the chorus?
Noodling on a synth one evening this chord progression came out, I thought it sounded quite sad and pathetic so I called it Theresa May.
The first track finished for the record at the end of 2016 and partly an attempt to do something quite different to the previous record. As said elsewhere this was one of those written on acoustic guitar to try and break further away from my usual song writing process. Somehow took a pretty funky turn I really liked but couldn’t sing over before ending up in this version. Inspired by feeling my memories were being eradicated through the gentrification process in different cities, while suffering a bit of heartbreak thinking “why can’t they just gentrify me and make me into someone else?”
Of Late Capitalism
Yet another track made from those Mellotron sounds. I was fiddling around trying to make something sound like Popol Vuh’s soundtrack to Werner Herzog’s Aguirre while pairing it with this loud kind of tribal beat. Lyrically inspired by an imagined not so distant dystopia, Mel Brook’s Spaceballs and a thought that struck me while working one day that we, or at least I, sort of falsely assume the permanence of everything. And that everything has its cost, which inspired the video also.
Watch ‘Of Late Capitalism’
Dust to Dust
Originally written on guitar after bingeing on Felt a few Springs ago. I’d intended it as the first song for this project I’d been talking about forming with a friend which didn’t work out, but I still liked the track. I was asked to contribute to a comp so thought I could Gross Net it up. Gradually I just became more and more enamoured with it and couldn’t just give it away, I felt it had to go on the album and it may be my favourite track on there. It went through quite a few rewrites gradually pulling itself away from the guitar version into something else entirely. The finished result is a collision of two different versions. Originally written from some bitter romantic slant, its meaning has since changed in my mind.
Just some guitar piece I thought was sad and haunting that materials in a matter of moments one evening. I was working with some people from/thinking a lot on Syria at the time of writing and recording the record and as such the name refers to the ongoing situation there.
The Indignity of Labour
Around that time I was also doing a job I absolutely hated, generally I think most jobs I’ve done have been a complete waste of time but this one basically required me to sit in a room for 8 hours and wait for something to happen. In the six months or so I was there I must have managed around four hours of activity. This track was inspired by feeling like I was losing my marbles while I was there. My skin would itch, I’d feel hot and bothered, my head would ache and I’d burst into tears of relief on leaving each day. I hope the toy piano and sawn violin articulate that adequately.
It’s fair to say this was the track most inspired by the burgeoning far right movements across the world, and this idea of union, the EU, of coming together and how that is often considered a good thing. Of course both opposing sides are forming bonds or unions within their membership bodies which result in something else being destroyed in this existential battle whether it be physical or metaphysical, societal or personal. I often long to be far away from everything happening and everyone but that isn’t really a solution, desirable as it is. Probably the track that sounds most like the previous record in terms of that EBM bassline influence, and probably the last one too. Gross Net is dead, long live Gross Net (3.0)