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Showing posts from September, 2020

RISE, GO OUTSIDE BITCH [262]

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My choice for the song that defines the year 2020 was decided very early on, by the end of March. Furthermore, it was was actually released on 20th December 2019, but reviews raved about it into the new year. “Sick & Panic” is the first release by the electronic music artist Ramona Xavier to use the pseudonym Macintosh Plus since the seminal 2011 album “Floral Shoppe,” a cornerstone of the vaporwave genre. Xavier usually releases under the name Vektroid, so the use of Macintosh Plus this time caused immense anticipation. For the uninitiated, “Floral Shoppe” is a cut-up of mostly Eighties tracks already drenched in keyboard and saxophone, that are sped up, slowed down, looped and distorted, giving the impression that you have unearthed a cassette tape with no known history, and the tape itself is worn and ragged. The standout track is “リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュー" (“Lisa Frank 420 / Modern Computing”) – Japanese text is a big feature in vaporwave song titles and album design – which s

WHO CARES WHAT PICTURE YOU SEE [261]

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On the evening of 16 th March 2020, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom announced the start of the lockdown that would attempt to suppress the outbreak of Covid-19, of which one measure was the closure of cinemas across the country, to prevent people coming into close contact within a closed space. Two days later, my bank sent me six free cinema tickets, to use at my local multiplex. The current account I have with my bank allows me to choose an extra perk from a list each year, like a magazine subscription, or money off in restaurants, but every March, when the bank asks me what I want next, I always choose the cinema tickets. On 19 th September 2020, I see a film in a cinema for what was the first time since 23 rd February – that film was “Greed,” the comedy satirising the clothes shop magnates that squeeze sweatshops for profit, starring Steve Coogan as a Sir Philip Green analogue that builds a plywood Colosseum using migrant labour to celebrate their birthday. It was a

BUCKAROO BANZAI IS NOT JUST A MOVIE [260]

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Very rarely do American blockbuster films try to defy explanation, but films with titles like “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8 th Dimension!” appear to be designed to do just that. It defies pigeon-holing, but because it defied the efforts of some to explain it, the film was only promoted to fans of “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” at the time of its release. The film is based in a world where the celebrity of a polymath is unquestioned, for Buckaroo Banzai is a neurosurgeon, scientist and rock star, leading the band Buckaroo Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers, its members also sidekick scientists that work for his institute. Banzai has mastered inter-dimensional travel, something that drove a previous scientist to insanity, but cracking entry to the 8 th dimension reveals it has been used as a prison by an alien race, the Red Lectroids, which remains in conflict with another race, the Black Lectroids from the same planet, and wants to set off a nuclear explosion to annih

WHO DO YOU LOVE? IS IT ME BABE? IS IT HIM NOW? [259]

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With my tastes in music saturated with synthesisers, Eric Clapton rarely makes my playlist, but I always make an exception for “Behind the Mask,” released in 1987. It is a rare Clapton song where the main drive is the synth chords and powerful drums, his own guitar playing used for extra flourish here, but the production is tight, and the call-and-response chorus, with the backing singers seemingly the ones in charge, is immensely effective. I had never questioned where “Behind the Mask” came from, letting it stand by itself, but having stumbled across its origin, I am not only far more informed, I have a new favourite version of it too. Two weeks ago, the YouTube algorithm suggested I listen to “Rydeen,” by the Japanese electronic group Yellow Magic Orchestra, itself sounding like a splinter group of the Electric Light Orchestra. I was already listening to music from a different Japanese group, the jazz fusion band Casiopea –in particular the tracks “Space Road,” “Midnight Ren