Eye- and netcatching sketches of pie-shaped landscapes and biotopes by russian web-designers Studio Psyho.
I made up the silly names myself, though.
Somehow we drifted off too far
communicate like distant stars
distant voices down the phone
the sunlit dust
the smell of roses drifts so slow
someone waits behind the door
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Riding inter-city trains
dressed in european grey
driving out to echo beach
a million memories in the trees and sands
oh no, how can I ever let them go
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Meet beneath the autumn lake
where only echoes penetrate
walk through polaroids of the past
pictured fused like shattered glass
the sun´s so low
turns our silhouettes to gold
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Lyrics by John Foxx, performed by Ultravox
Picture from the "Flight Attendants"-series by Brian Finke
The Bowery Boys have compiled "the history of New York City in video games."
From the beginnings of "Super Mario", alledged ideas of the city in "Frogger" and "Donkey Kong" to the spectacular, virtual reality of a renamed NYC of "Grand Theft Auto IV", which invites you to crash your imaginary car against its pixelated walls.
It´s an intersting, slightly nerdy read.
Like most kids with a twisted cultural identity I am fascinated with the side-products of sub-culture. For example I was far more interested in the imagery, posters and background music of exploitation-movies than by the actual movies.
This was partly due to the lack of availability and the realization that most of the films were never living up to the promise of the flashy trailers and the lurid posters.
So I bought lots of obscure compilations in the mid-eighties. Stuff like "Jungle Exotica", "The Frolic Room", and the "Wavy Gravy Series" which were full of ultra bizarre rock n´roll and trailers for movies like "The Astro Zombies".
On one of those records there was a charming piece called "Another Day, Another Man", which turned out to be a sizzling, groovy big-band strip-jazz number with the most romantic lyrics I have ever heard. The way the blatant messages fit into this hard hitting music is just spectacular:
Another day, another man!
This is the story of women who thought they´d earn money the easy way.
Only to find that they had to pay for their sins.
See: Sex without shame!
Raw naked violence!
In the boldest and most intimate scenes ever shown on any screen...
in... Another day! Another Man!
These are the women who fight for their men.
Where another man means another dollar!
They have no scruples
They´re corrupt and immoral!
As their passions run riot!
They live only for the exitement of each day.
For the pleasures of each night.
If you want to see a film that strips away all conventions...That dares to tell all...Then you must see:
Another Day! Another Man!
Of course I had never heard about the film and I was absolutely convinced that nothing could ever be captured on celluloid that would live up to the fantastic trailer-music.
But when I actually saw "Another Day, Another Man" for the first time, I was floored! Written and directed by the notorious Doris Wishman, it actually managed to one-up the sky-high expectations I never dared to have.
The style of her movies is just outrageous. Its hard to believe that these films are only 40 years old as they appear to come from a totally different reality. Altering between seedy exploitation, simulated nudity and violence (one always following the other)and social criticism, the Wishman-style has to be seen to be believed.
This deadly Doris famously shot most of her films without sound. Alledgedly to save money, she would later dub in the dialogue and occasionally even background noise. This adds an even odder touch to her bizarre screenplays, but it is her handheld camera which often pans around rooms and focusses on potted plants, ashtrays and parts (mostly feet) of the actors, which make her films so unique.
If Wishman would have been French and a man she would be name checked with Truffaut and Goddard. But since she was a woman who had the audacity to shoot sexmovies for a male audience her legacy is now held up by people like John Waters. What a lucky girl!
As for the music: It appears that it is library music by british KPM music label. Apparantly the music for "Another Day, Another Man" was also used in some of the Spiderman-cartoons from the sixties. This makes it so much better!
The first, feeble, skeletal frameworks that made up the early rollercoasters provided rather tame, undulating trips down wooden slopes.
It was the end of the 19th century and people discovered the sensation of speed. They would line up and pay a few pennies to experience this new taste of thrill.
There was money to be made and so the coasters were soon becoming the main attraction in any amusement park.
They called them the King of the Midway and from day one there was no looking back. The evolution of the thrill was fueled by the insatiable demand of the paying public who constantly aked for something bigger, better, faster and much more terryfing.
And there were a few men, mostly carpenters, who were quickly making a substantial business with their twisted ideas.
John A. Miller is now regarded as one of the most famous and influential coaster builders. Without his innovations such as upstop wheels and anti-rollback devices the quick mutation of coasters from mild scenic railways to frightening, wild, thrill machines would not have been possible. His century old patents are still the basis of every modern steel-coaster.
With the further innovation of flanged wheels there were no bounds anymore. Designers like Miller, Traver and Prior&Church would go all out and dream up some of the most frightening and insane designs. Up until the "roaring twenties" amusement parks and especially rollercoasters were the pinnacle of modern life and entertainment which was in love with speed and electricity.
Before the depression-years forced many parks to close, there were thousands of rollercoasters all over the world. Trial and error was the preliminary design ethic and sometimes the daring transitions would be too much for the human body. But the rides that just offered enough thrill without causing physical damage were the ones that became legends. Sadly most of the most legendary coasters have long been lost.
Thanks to generous collectors who love to share their treasures with the world via Youtube we can now take a look at some of these intimidating, wonderful pieces of fully usable architecture.
For this presentation I once again used Omnisio to combine some vintage film-clips which were collected and placed on Youtube by the coaster-collector Swampfoxer
You´ll see footage of Rye Playland (which still exists today) and its legendary AEROPLANE coaster. This fantastic ride with its spiralling drops was built by Fred Church and thrilled guests from 1928 until 1957. By then it was deemed as too dangerous.
Then there is the holy-grail of coaster-enthusiasts: The Crystal Beach Cyclone! Even by today´s standards the Traver-designed ride looks totally nuts! The layout was a blueprint for many modern coasters. But this Baby shook up its patrons for only 20 years (26-46), fourty years before computer-aided design helped to build rides that would not smash up your spine.
Take a quick glimpse at the Triple Racers which thrilled Texas Fair guests in the thirties.
Now, lets hop on board the Eerie Beach Wildcat. Even if you consider that old films are always running at faster speed: This Kitten goes to eleven! Now remember that cameras were big, heavy equipment back then. Ouch!
A mountain of white lumber made up the Bob-Coaster at Coney Island. The Cyclone, which is still standing today looks like a dwarf compared to this giant.
Last but not least you can take a ride on the legendary Riverview Bobs. One of many great coasters that stood in one of the dearly missed amusement parks: Riverview Park in Chicago.
Now, hold on tight:
I found out that the embedding can be a bit faulty with Firefox. In case you can´t see the full screen, click here.
Thanks to Swampfoxer for collecting, conserving and exhibiting these wonderful trips back into time.
Sometime ago I made a faux-pas when I claimed that Der Plan was Germanys best (and only) experimental-, dada-, exotica-, art-pop-band.
How could I forget the incredible and deadly Die Tödliche Doris ("The deadly Doris")?
Well, Doris was a little bit more art and a teensy bit less pop! Or were they? But after all they were one of the most outrageous groups that emerged from the fertile underground scene of the late seventies.
Die Tödliche Doris (which could be a wordplay on "lethal dose") was formed by art students Wolfgang Müller and Nikolaus Untermöhlen with various female members in the exploding art/underground scene of Berlin in 1980.
Due to the bizarre situation of the insular West-Berlin the city´s art scene was thriving thanks to a fairly large amount of money and freedom that was supplied by the Senate. Living a happy life of filth, squalor and fatalism was quite the thing to do back then. (See picture on right!)
Calling themselves "Geniale Dilletanten" (complete with typo) Doris was always on the edge of performing music, film, literature and paintings which could easily be seen as parody of the whole art circus. But they did it with such a twisted sense of humour and outragenousness that they were instantly taken serious by the institutions they might have been mocking.
Museums from Berlin to Amsterdam via Paris, New York and Tokyo were (and still are) exhibiting their various films and paintings.
The first thing I heard from Doris was "Wie still es im Wald ist" (How quiet the forest), which is actually an unlistenable squealing and scratching with Müller reciting his lyrics as if he is losing his sanity.
It is one of those moments where you sit there and the letters P R E T E N T I O U S are blinking before you like a disco. But at the same moment I found myself highly entertained, a little bit disturbed and I never forgot it.
Lets take a look at this little thing called "Debut". Don´t worry if you can´t understand the lyrics (its a weird story about a troubled kid who tries to go into the army after he was molested, gets arrested at work for stealing, is then thrown into prison, goes on hungerstrike and finally gets his debut on TV after he is released.) Who still insists that Germans have no sense of humour?
With their recordings and concerts Doris were constantly re-evaluating themselves and they came up with lots of great ideas that questioned all concepts of originality, authenticity, reality and convention. The art of the artificial and vice versa.
Their 1984 album "Our debut" (which it was not) mocked the will of their fellow underground artists to "make it big". Two years later they released "sechs" (six) which was the conceptual antithesis of the former album. Both records were produced at the same time and they were actually cut to form an "invisible" album which would materialize as soon as the listener would play both records at the exact same time. (A similar idea was much later done by belgian band/project Locust). Later, Doris performed the invisible album for deaf people with the help of mimes.
Even Doris´ live performances were under constant attack of their concept. They performed a track only once. During their next concerts Doris would mime to the recording. But this time they recorded the sound and the audience reaction and would use this tape in their next performance and so on. This process would lead to a multi layered sound in which the actual song morphed into a mushy noise.
I still remember discussing their "Chöre & Soli" release with a good friend of mine. It was a limited box set, containing 8 coloured mini records (20 seconds playing timeI) and a playback device. These small plastic discs were once used in talking puppets.
We instantly knew that this artefact would once become an expensive collectors item (which it is today).
In 1987 Doris ceased to exist (of course they didn´t) but they are still exhibiting and releasing oddities such as "Fallersleben", an "unrecorded" recording of a 1981 live concert that was alledgedly pulled from the ether in 2004. In fact it is a shitty tape of an old performance which they cleverly re-packaged with this totally hilarious campaign.
Sadly Nikolaus Untermöhlen died in 1996 and Wolfgang Müller is now partly living in Iceland where he writes book about elves!
Enjoy "Kavalliere 1", a "music video" that predates M-Tv and is more entertaining than "Last year in Marienbad".
For lots of info in five languages visit Doris.
Nuages was a side project of french producers Ludovic Navarre (St. Germain) and Didier Delasalle.
Their only output, the "Blanc Ep" is a smooth flowing string of five deep house sketches with slight Garage and Detroit influences.
"No work today" has a great, bouncing beat and this irresistible vocal sample which I love to play on Saturday mornings. It relaxes your day and anticipates the exitement of the night.
Nuages: No work today
Have a nice weekend!
Is there anything more beautiful and mood evoking than a Francoise Hardy chanson? Yes, watching her sing!
I only wanted to post "Les temps du souvenirs" because it´s main melody was used by Barry Adamson on "Something wicked this way comes", which was later used in a key scene in Lynch´s "Lost Highway".
But then I realized I had opened a treasure box of fantastic "Scopitone" films and tv-show appearances of this knock-out beauty.
Even live appearances in Monte Carlo, where she plays for Grace Kelly can be found and I was marvelling at her voice, which always sounded like she was living inside a mobile echo-chamber.
So here is a small selection:
Mon amie la rose
Her first hit in 1962, which was actually a b-side.
Tou les garcons et les filles
Now isn´t this fantastic???
tout ce qu'on dit
Well known. Originally penned by Adriano Celentano. The fade-out is goose-bump inducing!
La maison ou j'ai grandi
Les temps du souvenirs
Very 60s pop. A bit like the Walker Brothers.
Non ce n´est pas un reve
Are you still there? Mesmerizing beauty!
My imagined fantasy video for this Rex The Dog single would be populated by exotic carny-girls who would expertly repair some smashed Dodgem-cars on a sleazy fairground.
Rex The Dog: Every Day (Could Be Our Last)
Anyway, "Every Day (Could be our last day)" was released in 2006 and it fitted nicely into the Kitsune/Kompakt sound. Even if it boasts another, relatively simple octave-sawtooth bass - something I really don´t need anymore, but that must be only me -, it is Rex´s most poppy and catchy track. Hidden away as the last on the 3-track EP "Maximize", I always thought it should have received more attention.
I really dig the cut-up vocals which bear more than one resemblance to Neil Tennant (Pet Shop Boys) and the pseudo-ethereal "Ahhhhs" which actually make up the whole chorus are super-fine.
The sound has the right amount of sleazy, glittery aparkle thrown all over it and I can listen to it on endless repeat.
Play this to a Pet Shop Boys fan and tell them it was one of their lost, unreleased songs. See what happens...
To tell you the truth, I think someone just bought it.
Larger than life and twice as ugly...
If we have to live there, you´ll have to drug me!
Future Ruins (c) by Michelle Lord
Text excerpts: "How to be a millionaire" by ABC
The one and only Grace Jones is rumoured to release a new album, produced by Sly & Robbie with the inviting title "Corporate Cannibalism".
Sadly this was supposed to have happened 2 years ago. But if you ever went to see Grace Jones in concert you know that she always liked to take her time. Sometimes she decided to go onstage when the majority of the audience had already gone home!
So, if it is coming out this year or in 2010...Grace is always worth it.
With this video I experiemented with the new service Omnisio which allows you to edit your own videos, or stuff you found on Youtube, into one consecutive playback!
For this I used the five parts of Grace´s legendary "A One Man Show". The whole thing clocks in at 43 minutes and features Grace performing her fantastic "Niteclubbing" material in her typical outfits and antics. It begins with her version of "Warm Leatherette", the sick hommage to J.G. Ballards great novel "Crash".
The New Yorker posted a feature article about elevator mishaps today. One case describes the ordeal of a New Yorker office worker who was trapped for nearly two full days in an express elevator in his business building. The article describes the 41 hour horror in detail which happened in 1999.
The most interesting part is a timelapse video of the CCTV camera which lets us witness the reaction of the poor trapped man during this time. Watch! and wonder how nobody saw him, heard him, or missed him.
This incident ultimately changed the life of the man in a very negative way. From personal shock to the inevitable problems with greedy lawyers, he is finacially bankrupt today.
I recommend to read the full article to get a glimpse into the horror of the situation. The film, as impressive at it is, somehow looks like a sleek art video with it´s nifty split-screen and the pearly piano soundtrack.
"The day before you came" is one of the best ABBA songs and one of the most sinister pop-hits ever written.
This was the last Abba single and on first listen it sounded like the band was leaving the stage with a whisper, not a bang.
It was not really a big hit upon its release as it lacks any sing-along chorus and you have to listen really well to appreciate those insanely well written lyrics.
The funeral-esque tempo, the almost six minutes running time and the stark sound of the whole thing can make you feel quite miserable. I still remember some critic claiming that "The day..." was Abba´s take on a Joy Division song.
Anyway, if you make the effort to get a grip on this moebius-loop of a song, you will be well rewarded.
1982 was still before M-TV and music videos were not a common thing. But Abba were by then the richest people in Sweden and with all the tension between them, they most likely were not too keen to promote the single themselves. Beside, they had always done films and clips for their songs and they were responsible for some of the biggest and most hilarious cliches of the soon-to-bee video-aesthetic.
Check the video and admire how they managed to pack so many "moments" into one tiny video: The woman on the station, fingers touching behind the glass, slow-mo time shifts and on and on.
And then there is the cover by Blancmange, which was actually a bigger chart success (in Britain) when it was released in 1984.
I love the Blancmange version because of the slightly upped tempo and the wonderful tabla playing of Pandit Dinesh.
I always thought that Blancmange managed to stay true to the immensely sad, almost unbearably desperate tone of the song, but adding some slight irony to it.
I mean, how could you possibly sing words like "I need a lot of sleep so I like to be in bed by 10" without being laughed off the stage?!
I have to admit it: When this version came out I was far too occupied with other music and Abba was really not the band whose sleeves I would let lie around to impress my friends. Were it not for the possible irony in Neil Arthur´s voice, the song would have been dismissed.
But was it meant to be ironic? Surely, changing Marilyn French to Barbara Cartland in the lyrics didn´t convince anyone and it certainly didn´t improve the message. But in the end, even the hardest cynic will melt as the song nears its end.
For me, the best thing about "The day before you came" is the notion that the next day (the day when s/he came) never arrived!
The ABBA video hints at this by showing us the guy missing the train, while the Blancmange singer gets more frantic towards the end, as if he sings this song to himself day after day.
It´s just perfect on so many levels as it nails the deep roots of pop music: loneliness, unfulfilled desires and hope.
I am not so sure about the Blancmange video. The effort here is pretty slim and the only "oh, look"-moment comes when short scenes of Agnetha from the Abba-video are cut into the new version.
Now it appears that Neil is the person she was singing about in the first place. A vague and vain but pretty funny idea.
But maybe -and I like this idea better - Neil is just an obsessed fan who fantasizes about Agnetha and dreams about stalking her?
A pop-dream within a pop-dream.
It is a great testament to a pop song when it still has the power to fascinate you after 26 years.
I wanted to stick my fingers in my ears and shout Prisencolinensinainciusol when the news came a few weeks ago that the likely winner of the coming italian election could once more be Silvio Berlusconi.
In a momentary lapse of cynism I told myself that the Italian voters would certainly not allow this to happen again. After all it was just a mere two years ago that they finally got rid of this polit-zampano. A man who started his career as a cruise-ship entertainer. A man who invented laws for himself that saved him and his posse from being proscecuted after they lost their spot at the top.
So instead of sitting in jail with his fellow corrupted friends he somehow made his way back to the top with the help of the voters who must have a very short memory or a very masochistic streak in their collective psyche.
After France elected a similar showman, the re-election of Spains prime minister was a short breather of reason in the farce that is the European Union.
With people like Berlusconi and Sarkozy (and other similar contenders) we see what really appeals to the majority of voters. A facade of empty gestures, hollow phrases and a very shady demonstration of male virility. (The latter is especially interesting since the men in question are obviously plagued by insecurity and a big fat inferiority complex).
However, watching Berlusconi is as entertaining and shocking as watching an accident!
Here we have a 71 year old ultra-rich, criminal, third-rate pocket-magician who more or less looks like an audio-animatronic robot.
The closer you look at him you see that there is nothing real about him. He is the perfect canvas for people who like to project their idea of a strong leader on someone.
The willing victims who find a cozy spot in the mouth of the beast.
Yes, I do find his third re-election shocking and sad, but in the end it just follows the logic of unreason that unfolds before our eyes in this first decade of the 21st century.
I think he is only the prototype of a new class of career politicians who don´t have to care about anything except pampering their fragile egos.
(The "3 Davids" originally and in an upright position by artedicarte)
Yesterdays post about Bass-o-matic brought my attention back to its great vocalist Sharon Musgrave. So I looked around a bit to see what she is up to now.
It turns out that she is an accomplished jazz singer with lots of collaborations with the creme de la creme of the international jazz scene.
She has returned to live in Canada, where she grew up and has released a solo album "Selah" in 2002.
Here is the title track, a wonderful spoken-word-jazz number which I like for its relaxed groove, the excellent instrumentation and lack of preachiness (can you hear me Ursula Rucker?!). It´s aural honey.
Sharon Musgrave: Selah
Do you remember when Sould II Soul ruled the airwaves with the fat open hi-hat at the end of each pattern?
Suddenly that beat was everywhere and lots of similar songs featured the lavish, slow club-groove.
One of my favourites from this era is William Orbit´s studio project Bass-O-Matic.
"Fascinating Rhythm" shares more than a few characteristics of the Soul II Soul sound. But thanks to Orbit´s unmatched production skills this halftempo groover suddenly morphs from sample heavy electro soul to a ragga flavoured 2-Step, complete with toast before it ends in a jazzy, blissed out crescendo.
All this is flawlessly packaged within a four minute, radio friendly pop-single with gorgeous vocals by Sharon Musgrave.
"History is written everytime we move. Fascinating Rhythm locked me on the groove."
"Now listen here, Baby!"
Bass-O-Matic: Fascinating Rhythm (The Loud Edit)
Of course Orbit was no copycat! As a savvy musician and a genious manipulator of recording technology I still consider him as one of the best producers of the last three decades.
I can´t always cope with his taste (e.g. the horrible "Pieces in a modern style) but especially his work as Bass-O-Matic on the "Set the control for the heart of the bass"-album and some of his remixes for S´Express (Hey Music Lover), Prince (Batdance) and Kraftwerk (Radioactivity) still stand the test of time as technical superior productions.
on the 12" Orbit took the Fascinating Rhythm-jam further with two more mixes. Both versions are imaginative excursions on the basic song. But he keeps the form tight, with a firm ear for structure and an eye to the floor and the bar.
Bass-O-Matic: Fascinating Rhythm (Soul Odyssey Mix)
With the "Blue Mix" the beat is very subdued and seductive voices are slowing us down. The direction is now horizonatal.
Bass-O-Matic: Fascinating Rhythm (The Blue Mix)
I love it when even remixes tell a consistant story! This nearly beatless version of the album opener "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Bass" is a spaced out, dreamy tranquilizer. "Trance" was not yet what it was about to become, but Orbit would later produce some very bland stuff.
Bass-O-Matic: Set the Controls for the Heart of the Bass (Va Va Voom Mix)
Sadly the album "Set the controls..." and the follow up "Science and Melody" failed to make the impact they deserved. When Orbit produced Madonna´s "Ray of Light" album seven years later, he could finally cash in on his creative studio trickery he had developed since he played with Torch Song in the mid-eighties. Once again Madonna could claim to be hip and up-to-date and the lazy media would once more bore us with the obligatory "she has re-invented herself again!"
But if you listen to both Bass-O-Matic albums, you´ll hear that the template was already tried and tested.
Until 1993 Orbit would run his Guerilla Label which produced some great and obscure "progressive house". I will post more on this later.
Until then make sure to visit William Orbit.com and play around with his Orbit Mixer.
One of the most hated, currently (still) working directors is fellow German self-made-man Dr. Uwe Boll.
(pictured on the left. copyright: Kinostar)
However, Boll is a good business man and found a way to cash in on a stupid german tax-gap which is thankfully now closed. It was this tax-law which allowed him to finance his films outside of Germany without fearing to pay the losses out of his own pocket. His idea to purchase small money film-rights for video games was not stupid either.
Boll is often compared to the other "worst director of all times", Ed Wood. I think this is a lazy comparison in the same way as I think that the label that is attached to Wood is just lazily repeated, unreflected lore.
I do think that both directors are/were totally oblivious to the reception of their work. While Wood´s enthusiasm made him blind to the fact that his films were not up to par with others, Boll seems to be unaware of decent films, let alone art in the first place. It is as if the whole concept of good film making has passed him by.
Another thing Boll has learned from his fellow "bad directors" is the gift of self promotion. For good or bad, he found a way to link his name and face to his notoriety. So when he was recently asked about the online petition to stop him from filmmaking by Fearnet.com he upped the ante by explaining that he would consider it a deal after one million signatures (the current count was 18.000).
Wouldn´t it be a better idea if people decided to stop seeing his films instead of signing useless online-petitions?
The air might get thin for Dr. Boll anyway after his latest onslought of cinematic garbage is only considered a hit in the third-world.
But speaking of the third-world: John Waters once claimed that his films, which once were considered as absolute garbage, didn´t have budgets that would feed entire countries.
Boll boasts about his big budgets when he is asked about the difference between his films and the TROMA productions.
Does he really not get it? I guess the petition is not such a ridiculous idea after all.
Remember the nifty Roland TR-909 Drumcomputer simulation I wrote about a while ago?
The Hobnox Audio Tool will take it to the next level.
In its momentary demo stage you can program a simulated TR-909, two TB-303´s, put them through a combination of nine effect-boxes such as flanger, reverb, equalizer and delay and then you can plug all of this into a mixer! If you think this sounds great in theory, wait until you hear it!
The 909 has five pre-programmed patterns but you can program many more. The two 303´s are also pre-programmed. If you press play on the bottom of the page you will only hear the 909. You will have to plug in the 303´s by clicking their output jacks and drag the appearing cable into the input of the mixer or you plug them into the effect-boxes, which you can interconnect as you wish. Make sure to scroll around the site to see everything. I found the mixer on top of the page quite late.
In it´s post demo-stage you will be able to save your creations. A TR-808 simulation is also in the works and the possibility to jam online with other users sounds like a great idea.
Download the demo here, but be warned: It´s highly addictive and you´ll find yourself spending hours in Acid-heaven.
EDIT: The Audio Tool is updated! Read more about it!
When Drum n´Bass morphed out of Jungle sometime during the mid-nineties there was the overall feeling that this really was the future of music. The year 2000 had arrived early with a musical style that was a combination of freefloating structures bound to a driving, totally artificial beat.
It couldn´t last!
After a few years of fascination we went back into our cave and watched the shadow-plays.
Marc Royal was responsible for some of the most expansive excursions in the field of DnB. While his fellow producers left the jungle madhouse with a "mature" sound full of "real" jazz instruments, his productions as T-Power were full of electricity.
"Mutant Jazz" was a lush single full of dark ambience and kitschy melodies which he pulled from every corner of the planet. To use a tired, but very fitting anology: It sounded like music that could have been played on the streets of "Blade Runner".
With "Police State" (Which is actually a three track EP, clogging in at 37 minutes) Royal went on to further explore this dystopian sujet.
T-Power: Police State
With its merging tracks it plays like a full album and creates a vast, somber, sci-fi world which still manages to sounds like fun to be in.
Packed full with samples from George Lucas´ "THX 1138" (which is only a minor letdown) the journey starts with "Police State", a 14 minute epic that unfolds like a fractal flower.
Metallic, glitching drum-rolls and displaced beats form a scattering, fragile rhythm. An asian melody fragment, like a half remembered play-back comes and goes as the track disolves into a spheric calm halfway through.
After a few moments of tranquility the rhythm comes back, but this time much stronger and forceful. A stepping beat and bassline are effect laden reminders of clanging sticks and gun-shots. But this phase passes soon and again we are left with more electronic ambience that never quite manages to soothe the listener.
We segue right into "Prospects for Democrazy", the sparkling heart of the EP.
T-Power: Prospects for Democracy
Its artificial saxophone melody, resembles "Mutant Jazz". Wonderful production, immersive stereo and imaginative programming makes this one of the stand-out tracks of its era. Time flies while the track morphes trough many stages and situations. Zooming in at things that seem of interest then scanning around to find something else.
The detached fascination of malevolent technology.
There are moments when the ambience comes close to early Jean Michel Jarre with a far more sinister twist.
"Synthesis" marks the final 12 minutes of this journey.
This is the straightest and most dancefloor friendly track of the three.
A shuffling beat and a sparkling sequencer line captivate the listener while distant noises open up the sonic space of "Synthesis".
This is "end title"-music. But as strings come in to carry the rhythm, this is the only moment in nearly 40 minutes when "real" dnb beats are heard.
Amen-breaks appear like shy guests, fading in and out, supporting the beat but they never become prominent enough to dominate the fragile construction of the music.
The greatest thing about this EP is its distinct will to sound different. At a time when DnB was exploded all over the place and it´s fate as supermarket background music became evident, "Police State" dares to sound out of place. Not abrasive and close to kitsch, Marc Royal manages to sit comfortably between the chairs,
With the ermergence of glitch a few years later, the often fragile and "error"-laden style to produce beats was heard everywhere. But I am still fascinated with the amount of work and "design" that went into the programming of the beats and the tweaking of sound.
On his full lengths album "The self evident thruth of an intuitive mind", which was released in the same year, T-Power uses the extended playtime to its fullest capacity. He takes his time to develop his ideas.
The technological leaps that were made with Drum and Bass were amazing, but somehow the future-shock died down rather quick.
If you compare T-Power´s 1995 output with Goldie´s much hyped "Timeless" from the same year, the latter has aged much more. I would also say that the production and innovation of T-Power is far more impressive than Goldie, who relied a bit too much on impressive drum-programming but quickly outdated pre-set pads.
Pictures are taken from here
When there´s more life on your shoes than in your music-clip than it must be Felt´s "Primitive Painters".
This was a massive statement when it was released as a single from the wonderfully titled "Ignite the seven cannons and set sail for the sea"-album. The guest-vocals from Elizabeth Fraser really make the song. Combined with the wall-of-sound production from Robin Guthrie and Lawrence´s wailing, manifesto singing style "Primitive Painters" stormed the indie-charts in 1985 and it almost became a hit.
Contrary to the powerful song the promo-video is a statement of nothingness. Fraser´s presence was not required and the whole production seems to have suffered from the total rejection of any idea. It would be the perfect blue-print for todays no-budget clips.
"Primitive Painters are ships flowing in an empty sea, gathering in galleries were stallions of imagery"
Felt (with Elisabeth Fraser on invisible vocals): Primitive Painters
Watching showreels on Youtube has recently become one of my new, pathetic obsessions.
What was once a fairly private affair between the designer and the possible customer has now become open and public for everyone who does and most likely doesn´t care.
These self-promoting clips tend to reveal the real connections of our visual world. News-trailers, music-clips, commercials for ice-cream and phone-sex, insurance- and car-companies, governments and the pharma-industry are the art-magnates behind this ultra-ballardian showreel by british designer Gavin Aslett.
Set to the sleek, metronomic new-wave of Ultravox´ "Mr. X" we see an endless parade of blurred graphics, logos, and alienated images. The whole presentation follows this distorted sci-fi imagery, but I keep asking myself if the creator is really happy with his customers.
Can he emotionally distance himself in any way from the demands of the corporations in a way that his visual style suggests?
Some reels have the goodies hidden and sandwiched between cute cartoons and yoghurt-ads. Watch for the x-ray skeletons in a car crash in this work-sample of Antonio Frias
Another interesting reel comes from Plan A Productions. A four minutes bombardment of gloomy, superstitious and horrifying images that depict situations you wouldn´t like to find yourself in. Yet, all these images, echoing bad drug trips, dystopian nightmares of a world reigned by malevolent machines and translucent identities promote lifestyle products.
The random succession of unrelated product imagery reveals the void and the cynicism that lurks behind this corporate conglomerate but taken at face value the images might transcend a detached and cool, desirable aura.
This speed-reel ends with a car commercial that shows the product accelerating towards a sun that resembles an atomic bomb explosion.
She is not quite Nico nor Marlene and thank god she´s no Ute Lemper, but Claudia Brücken is a rare case of an almost German popstar. Much loved in certain circles but nearly unknown back home.
Her career sadly took many twists in the wrong direction. Her relationship with her label manager Paul Morley seperated her from her Propaganda band-colleagues.
Act, her collaboration with Thomas Leer, an expensive ultra-pop album, was not as successful as hoped. After one album they disbanded.
Her first attempt at a solo album grounded before it´s release. Her next attempt "Love and a million other things", from which "Kiss like Ether" was released as a single was another hi-gloss production. Once again, Claudia had bad timing when the album was thrown under the bus due to inter-label problems.
Claudia Brücken: Kiss like ether
She later teamed up with Paul Humphreys of OMD and formed the band OneTwo.
A few years ago she recorded an album with Andrew Poppy on which she sings cover versions to Poppy playing the piano. Now, this is a strange album! As I said before: She is not Nico, although she still sports a heavy German accent, her interpretation of classics like "Breakfast" (Associates) is "heavy" to say it nicely.
At least she stayed away from Brecht/Weill!
One man´s horror is another man´s statistic.
The Aircraft crashes record office-website lists all commercial aircraft crashes since 1918 (photo documentation starts 1926).
First I was suprised by the existence of the site (must have been a momentary lack of cynicism), then I was taken back by the presentation which lists the latest crash, aircraft and casualties next to a rotating "new"-gif on top of the site. (They sadly added a second incident throughout the day! The site is obviously well maintained).
But then I found myself looking up accidents which I remembered for one reason or another. I found the terribly tragic crash of a 747 falling into a highrise in Amsterdam, which I read about on the frontpage of a newspaper while waiting for take-off in 1992.
I looked up the China Airlines Boing that overshot the runway on the old Hong Kong Kai-Tak airport, shortly before I was to land there for the first time in 1993. It was left lying there for some time, so that every passenger was allowed to witness the wreck from above.
I also had to look up the Aloha Airlines plane which lost parts of its roof in flight but managed to land with only a few casualties (a smalltalking Steward would later tell me that they called her "The convertible")
Yes, they are all there!
I asked myself why I was bothering to look up these terrible pictures in the first place. I am the last person to stare at car-crashes but when it comes to air-crashes: I can´t help to be fascinated and horrified.
The social and sexual philosophies of the ejector seat. The unfairness of the black box recorder. The microcosm of the airport and the entranced survivors who wander admidst the rubble, still wearing bathing suits.
Statisticats can even look up deathrates per operator and the worst accidents per year.
But the total rate of 16.874 crashes which claimed 120.017 lifes over 90 years, somehow seems tame if you compare it to the horrible devastation that is shown in the pictures and if you put it in perspective to the victims of the automobile.
The photos are taken from Aircraft crashes record office and I will remove them upon request.
German electronic-music pioneer Klaus Dinger has died of heart failure a few days before his 62nd birthday on March 21.
Klaus Dinger was an original member of Kraftwerk together with Ralf Hütter, Florian Schneider and Michael Rother. He played drums on their first LP in 1971 but soon left to form Neu! with Michael Rother.
In Germany Neu! were always standing in the shadow of Kraftwerk, who perfected their polished robotic music with a clean, futuristic pop glimmer and a distinct teutonic image.
Neu! and their angular, metronomic rhythmic excursions which were often full of dub-like sound experiments were mostly regarded as drug music by the mainstream German media.
At the time, long-haired artists who came up with radical new sounds and ideas, breaking away from any convention were scaring the shit out of the post-war generation who eventually saw them as the same radicals that would soon terrorize the country by throwing bombs and killing industrialists.
A curious international audience marvelled at the sudden emergence of these children of the war survivors. What were they up to now? Was this the new sound of German efficiency? Or was it the bored protest of bohemian kids who were still born in ruined cities but who were now cutting the cord to the past, while profiteering from the Wirtschaftswunder-years? And why was their music so groovy and detached?
Understandably the musicians were not too happy with the Krautrock-label that was bestowed on them. They preferred to call their music "Kosmische Musik", or they were simply filed under Jazz and Rock.
After three albums Neu! split in 1975. Michael Rother decided to start a solo career in which he explored a more ambient sound.
Klaus Dinger went on to form La Düsseldorf, who were active until 1981. With "Rheinita" they even scored a varitable hit.
The euphoric, driving rhythm of Dingers drums and the electronic touches fit in quite well with Disco and New Wave. During this time the huge influence Neu! must have had on the new british music scene became obvious: John Foxx, Ultravox, OMD (who named a song "4 Neu!" as a hommage), Human League, they all cited Neu! as an inspiration.
Some of them would go on and hire Neu! producer Conny Planck to record in his legendary Conny Planck Studios.
The studio, which I was happy to have seen from the inside several times, was located in a transformed pigsty and cinema in a small village outside of Cologne, is one of those legends of the 70s and early 80s. If you were a big name band during this time you would record there or at Compass Point on the Bahamas. Go figure!
In 1985 Dinger and Rother reunited for a fourth Neu! album, which was released a decade later in 1995. Until today there is a quarrel about copy- and publishing rights which made re-issues a complicated affair.
"Isi" from their "Neu! 75" album is one of my favourites. It´s almost computerized rhythm, underlined with the simple piano motive and the subtle, celestial voices creates a wonderful, euphoric mood.
Avoiding the kitsch-trap by this much, it is a soundtrack for something that accelerates endlessly, going further and further and higher and higher...