Neshma Friend, has never shied away from political topics. Her music and ideas, refined over a trilogy of albums, find expression in the persona of Micropixie, an alien come to Earth to realize she has settled on a planet riven with strange and terrible ideas like misogyny, xenophobia, racism, and a host of other human ills. Micropixie’s latest album, Dark Sight of the Moon, finds her settling into her new landing ground, and voicing her dissatisfaction about how the place works. As Friend reflects, Micropixie is coming to terms with “both her alien and human sides,” symbolic of a combination of spiritual growth and bodily comfort.
Micropixie is not strictly a musical alter-ego. The idea of leading an alien existence, and the “alien” as a site of creative tension, came to Friend years before she began making music. She recalls, “I had heard the term ‘Alien with Extraordinary Abilities’ — that’s a US Green Card category one can apply for as an immigrant — and imagined a character from there.” From alien also comes alienation, as she describes the sense of frustration she felt throughout her life when navigating through hierarchical systems in her own community and in broader society, trying to be her own person and hold strong opinions in worlds that disfavored nonconformity, particularly when it was a woman of color forging her singular path ahead.
In Dark Sight of the Moon, Micropixie explores these hierarchies by both alluding to current events and by engaging in speculative musings about the future. The single “Como Minimo,” is a commentary on consent in a world where, as she croons and as the common refrain sometimes goes, “boys will be boys, men will be creeps.” The phrase “#YesIsTheMinumum” flashes across the screen throughout part of the video, signaling the deeper conversations about desire and mutual consent Micropixie thinks we should be having, displacing the sexist apologism of current discourse.
Similar themes about the disjunction between the dismal present and an uncertain but hopeful future permeate the rest of the album. A highlight track, “the Universal,” is reminiscent of mid-2000s indie pop-rock with its guitar hints of California beaches. Lyrically, it speaks of a world where every home has a satellite and all the daily papers tell you “tomorrow’s your lucky day”- a universe that could be either a techno-dystopia or a techno-utopia, depending on your viewpoint. If you’re an alien come to Earth, maybe it seems like both at once.
Dark Sight of the Moon comes out April 9th. Friend will be holding a “deep listening party” on April 16th at Wally’s Hyde Out in San Francisco.