Remember before the internet, when the quality of dudeness referred to a certain cool or easy-going masculinity, and not, as it does now, braindead jock attitudes at best, and hateful gamergate bile at worst? We miss those times.
Ok, when we filled the character sheets of our lives we opted for nerdy characteristics and skills, and didn’t have enough points to spend on dudeness, but we still love those who did things differently: Steve McQueen, Belmondo and Coburn, most protagonists in Michael Mann’s work (whose career is an audiovisual paean to dudeness), The Dude obviously. We think that the whole vapor wave thing, the neons, the pastels and the moccasins, white suits, fast cars and keytars are a nostalgic tribute to that lost dudeness, and we are down with it.
Dudeness gets up to 11 in Kathryn Bigelow’s Pointbreak: Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves, Californian surfer zen, bikers and guns, that thousand yard stare that could equally represent an existential epiphany worthy of Camus, or the outcome of a lobotomy.
Mark Isham’s soundtrack rises to the occasion with its mixture of bombastic physicality, moments of ambient introspection and percussive shoot-out set-pieces. In a couple of cases, all these things come together with an absurd tsunamic grandiosity that washes over us, threatening to dissolve the mind-body divide and deliver us to a nirvana of total flow which I guess is what Dudeness is about, at the end of the day.
Masaaki Ohmura is one of those mystery artists we sometimes discover during our algorithmic explorations of YouTube’s 1980s J-pop and ambient corners. According to Discogs, he only produced an album, a soundtrack for ‘You Gotta Chance’, a runner-up to best film in the Yokohama Film Festival in 1986 (?). And that’s it.
Perhaps he was too busy being a dude.
The utter coolness of this record suggests this is the case. Frankly, it sounds like the soundtrack for Manhunter if it had been a 1980s rom-com. Perhaps we are skewed by that splash of blue in the front-cover.
Although all the tracks are brilliant, including the schmaltzy ballad ‘Rainy Lane’, and the ‘trip to the club’ electropop theme track, the highlight is A Touch of Temptation, a transfixing slice of Balearica with which its dubby cadences, gorgeous saxophone and epic drops stands for and transcends all the vapor wave clichés you could imagine, perfectly capturing the pure emotions at the heart of the genre and its dudeness: gratitude for being here in such great company, a calm joy that tomorrow will be similar, and an undercurrent of melancholy that all these things will come to pass, and all you will have their memories.
Even that, eventually, will crumble into dust.