There is no Band

Featuring : Rebekah Del Rio

mulholland-drive

In the dream logic of Lynch’s Muholland Drive, the club (Silencio) lies at the centre of a fracture between worlds.  Much like it did in Twin Peaks.  Much like it did in Blue Velvet.  For in these venues the torch song is the portal through which Lynch’s likeable, inquisitive leads find a moment of calm among the surreal maelstrom that pulsates through Lynch’s Mysteries.  And it’s in this calm that they gain a horrifying insight into their world, as if a smiling plastic veneer is gently pealed back revealing a dark mess of evil.  Much like a 20JFG post.

The incantation used in Mulholland Drive is Roy Orbison’s Crying.  Acapella.  In Spanish.  Sung by Rebekah Del Rio both on the soundtrack and on film.

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Mulholland Drive probably represents the last of Lynch’s plucky detective stories, beginning with Blue Velvet and continuing on through Twin Peaks.  The dreamlike wish-fulfilment that always underpinned the earlier stories is at its most exposed in Mulholland Drive.  The fantasy at its most fragile.  Fittingly then, the rawest, most heartbreaking portal is unaccompanied.  “No hay banda.”

Rebekah Del Rio – Llorando (Crying)

This is taken from one of the greatest soundtracks of the new millennium which is still readily available on CD.  Just don’t look at the prices for the 2008 vinyl issue.

Dennis Waterman, meet Giorgio Moroder

Featuring : 20jfg + Squeeze

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Some time ago I did a post about my least favourite example of late 70s British album design from one my favourite late 70s albums.

Now, here is an example of late 70s British album design I love so much that I even have the cover framed in my living room!

Yep, my love for Cool For Cats is unambiguous and genuine.

There is nothing I would change about the geometry of the Cool For Cats album cover. It even looks good in yellow!

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And on a T-shirt!

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In fact, my copy isn’t even purple at all – but a lurid, retina-razing pink version, that I somehow can’t seem to find an image of anywhere in the cyberspace. Is it rare? I don’t know, but it looks exactly like how I want my imaginary 1979 Britain to look.

Cheap, tarty bubblegum pub-glam, but not evil.

The music also sounds exactly like how my revisionist Life On Mars made-up 1970s sounds. Lots of squelching moogs and chatting up “birds” over a bag of chips on the way home from a disco – the squelching moogs against the sometimes-ribald lyrics seeming suddenly less futurist and more bodily function-synthesising end of the pier juvenilia.

Squeeze – Slap and Tickle

Add more masturbation and Freudian complexes and you basically have Pulp, 15 years too soon.

Squeeze, for a while, had a perfect pop art pop band schtick – part Dennis Waterman in Minder, part early Moroder.

You’re not likely to hear it admitted very often, but outside of the songwriting nucleus of Difford/Tilbrook (then being touted quite earnestly by the music press as the heirs to Lennon/McCartney), a huge part of the success of that sound had to do with He Who Shall Not Be Named.

Squeeze

Far right in this photo. Now an expert backwards-walker and much-derided thumper of the boogie-woogie piano.

I don’t care what you say. I still love Squeeze and I don’t even hate Later…

For context, here’s a mixtape of what other music sounded like in 1979. Use the comments box if you’re old enough to know the track IDs!

XXJFG – Dennis Waterman, meet Giorgio Moroder

Smudged Fairies

Featuring : Shaman B

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(gif is Cottonmoths by postmoderncorruption.)

Like frolicking through a Disney landscape  that has been rendered in the tape-loading screens of assorted Spectrums, Commodores and Amstrads.

Those things buzzing around your ears are so cute but what are they – fairies? They look like smudged blocks of code, but you’re pretty sure that they’re fairies.

Shaman B – Bamboo Gardens

The colour underneath your feet is green so it must be grass. It shifts and stutters reassuringly.

There is no heartbreak here. This must have been what the world looked like before the fall.

Download Shaman B’s Primitivism EP from Soundcloud

Scalpels to dissect the universe

Featuring : Hiro Kone

destiny

(Image through Destiny Planet View)

We have spent a significant chunk of the weekend playing Destiny. Our brain and aesthetic formation frameworks have finally caught up with the twitching of our alien-face-stabbing knuckles, and this is what they have to say:

 “The solar system in Destiny is an collection of beautiful dioramas we and our kin cycle through like a pulse of elegant aggression. At constant intervals, we will confront and destroy a cluster of enemies. Perhaps we will do this accompanied by others like us, perhaps alone. Regardless of how many others have joined our fire-team, the general feeling is one of bleak loneliness. We are marooned in a universe sinking into entropy, violence, consumerism (of armaments) and fundamentalist worship; we are the bloodthirsty elite of a humanity that has lost all it had gained, and its history. Perhaps we will push back the tide of the darkness, but deep inside, we wonder, what’s the point? ”

In other words, Destiny is a bit like a faceless techno party, and we like it like that. Also as a Romero style dystopia (the Tower is the mall), as a neo-cyberpunk celebration of militaristic technology, as a perfectly designed device for haptic titillation, and as nihilistic distillation of the hero journey into a collection of tools to exterminate our enemies ever more efficiently.

It is very smooth. Smooth like the exquisite synesthetic transitions between modes and moods in Hiro Kone’s Fallen Angels.

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…where minimally architected spaces are traversed with vector machine elegance, fractal patterns bounce of the gunmetal grey of contemplative eyes, nocturnal city-scapes are observed from structures of surgical steel, and the stenographically concealed message in the shifts of their lights are decrypted.

The message is that there is no message, no meaning, only shapes and lights and movement, and flashes of emotion sliding into blue and then darkness, and all of these things are so pretty, just like Destiny.

Hiro Kone – Days of Being Wild

You can acquire Hiro Kone’s exquisite Fallen Angels from Geographic North.

The singularity is just unevenly distributed

Featuring : Lorenzo Senni

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Lorenzo Senni‘s album Superimpositions is ably represented by that gorgeous sleeve up there.  It’s a collage of synthetic odes to the clear infinite skys of the deep desert glimpsed by only a handful of survivors of the great Prog-plane-crash of 1978.  That day, Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre were the only ones to make it back out alive.  Their smooth synth sounds papering over the searing trauma of the event.  Superimpositions reveals their fractured psyches to us: glimpses into the minds of tortured souls; premonitions of big-room-house and the glory of soulless hedonism (for who dictates what quantity of soul is required for hedonism to reach critical mass — fascists, that’s who).

Forever Headline is that moment of premonition.  That feeling that all synth music was building towards this.  Forget the respectability of Oscars and cultural symposiums.  There is no greater moment for machine music than when it returned to the abandoned warehouses and factories that birthed its rhythmic heart.  Places that imprinted repetition in the genome of its audience.  In that moment within the pulse of the strobes, when light cut the rolling beats and synth stabs into even tinier fragments.  In that moment (and it was, so very brief) the synth achieved sentience.  And it liked it.  It would leave an indelible mark on its self replicating DNA and forever more would it attempt to reassemble those stolen moments of rapture with 1000s of people.

This is a document, not of the moment, but of the desire.

Lorenzo Senni – Forever Headline

Forever Headline is taken from Lorenzo Senni’s majestic album Superimpositions which came out on Boomkat Editions on 8th September.  You can get it right here.

Victorian GIFs

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Stand up, ye spellers, now and spell;
spell phenakistoscope and knell:
Or take some simple word as chilly,
Or gauger Or the garden lily…

– Anon, 19th Century

The first animated gif was created by CompuServe (remember them?) in 1987. But a century and a half before that, there was the phenakistoscope.

The phenakistoscope was an optical illusion machine that was essentially an early attempt at animation. The animations were drawn in a series around a record-like disc, which also featured a series of evenly-spaced slits. By turning a handle on the machine, the disc would rotate, and when the viewer peered through the slits at a mirror reflecting the disc, the drawings on the disc gave the illusion of fluid animation.

The machine was first conceived by a Belgian physicist, Joseph Plateau, in 1839, who was inspired by the work of Euclid and Newton.

Here are two examples of gif-animated versions of  phenakistoscope discs. More can be viewed here. 

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An excellent soundtrack to these mesmerising images can be found in Savage Imagination – the frankly fantastic new album by Takako Minekawa and our beloved Dustin Wong.

Takako Minekawa and Dustin Wong – She He See Feel

Buy Savage Imagination by Takako Minekawa and Dustin Wong

And if you like that, then you will love this Shugo Tokumaru piece from 2013!

Shugo Tokumaru – Katachi

 

Arboreal Origins

Featuring : Grouper + Tara Jane O'Neil

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(art by Roberto Kusterle)

Music of arboreal origins often sounds simultaneously unheimlich and full of light.

Music from the cities sounds heavy and everyday.

As a tribute to summer’s last gasps, here are two gorgeous luciferian tunes that will prepare you for autumn.

Tara Jane O’Neil – Wordless in Woods

Buy Tara Jane O’Neil’s Where Shine New Lights

Bonus track, from 2013:

Grouper – Living Room