Chemical Brothers "Free Yourself" Music Video Goes Full 'Black Mirror'
The music video for The Chemical Brothers’ first new track since 2016 feels like a Black Mirror cautionary tale warning us about the inevitable A.I. robot uprising. But instead of murdering their human overlords, these robots just want the freedom to dance. Even then, it’s still deeply unsettling to see a ton of robots with human faces gyrating as they chant things like “free yourself — free me — dance!”
On Monday, The Chemical Brothers announced a new album called No Geography and an accompanying U.S. tour (their first since 2015) that begins May 12, 2019 in Mexico City. This comes only five days after the duo released “Free Yourself” and its dancing android music video.
Directed by DOM&NIC and produced by Outsider, the “Free Yourself” video follows a security guard at a warehouse for a fictional company called “RoboForce AI Labour Solutions.” The warehouse is used to store android workers. When “Free Yourself” opens, the guard drives to work through a group of protestors holding signs like “Jobs Not Bots.” Someone even throws some kind of food at his car window.
This highlights a very real growing concern about the presumed rise of an android workforce in the near-future. As A.I. and robotics technologies develop further, we’ll likely see commercialized robotic labor become reality as machines replace human workers in all sorts of industries.
This basic story setup sounds like something straight out of Black Mirror, which has used androids before but never quite to this extent. It’s more accurate to compare “Free Yourself” to The Matrix or I, Robot, both of which featured violent android uprisings. However, rather than turn to violence, it seems the robots of “Free Yourself” simply want the freedom to dance.
The leader of the robot uprising looks an awful lot like Sophia Robot from Hanson Robotics, and almost all of the androids have similar body structures to robots we’ve seen in sci-fi movies like Ex Machina.
Pretty much the entire 6-plus minutes of the song has the lead robot saying either “dance” or “free yourself” over and over, with the chorus serving as a pointed request: “Free yourself, free me, dance / Free yourself, free them, dance / Free yourself, help to free me, free us.” It’s a literal cry for help that, despite all the fun and dancing, still comes off as deeply unsettling. It also makes for a catchy, if slightly repetitive, song from the electronic music duo.
No Geography has no confirmed release date just yet, but the new Chemical Brothers album will likely release sometime in 2019 during the upcoming tour.