Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Stockhausen Syndrome

Before Portishead and other vitamin-D deficient Anglophone producers set to a wholesale plundering of the work of film composers John Barry and Bernard Hermann, in turn giving the world the unwelcome gift of Trip Hop and the adjective "cinematic" as a critical term denoting the addition of vinyl pop & hiss sounds and postmodern ennui - the equivalent of a sepia filter (or hey, Instagram!) - a relatively gorgeous Swede translator by the name of Virna Lindt infused the icy cold archness & languid irony of Cristina and Amanda Lear (ex-models' musical output, a genre unto itself) with human warmth and her own appreciation of the big-room orchestral pop of soundtracks gone by.

The three songs here don't accurately represent the range of Ms. Lindt's output - the lumbering cover of Michel Lagrand's The Windmills of Your Mind, the absurd dead-eyed naivete of The Dossier on Virna Lindt, and  finally, her Tot Taylor-produced debut single, Attention Stockholm - virtually a template for 3/4 the output of Belle and Sebastien...  Great songs, yes, but there are other songs, more adventurous, sort of like Sparks and Yello Magic Orchestra, especially on 1985 Play/Record, which was, predictably, a hit in Japan.

Had Lindt's influence been felt more deeply, Trip Hop might have a more noble pedigree and not reached its nauseating limit in the studied melancholy of Mono's 1996 sap-fest Life in Mono  The song, a barely concealed rewrite of The Windmills of Your Mind, was a prominent part of (the not-unloveable overwrought) fever dream melodrama of Alfonso CuarĂ³n's film adaptation of Great Expectations.  Or not...  Who knows if we would have been spared the existence of Black Box Recorder - an ignoble and wholly reprehensible musical clusterfuck that has forever tarred the name of Jesus & Mary Chain's John Moore.  (The wholly calculated effort to get famous and to get into Sarah Nixey's pants succeeded on one count, at least.)

But Trip Hop will continue to live on forever, along with drum & bass, in the scores of police procedurals on American network television, and in the dusty CD-piles buried in the back of a closet by Unmarried Women of a Certain Age.

Note: When I think of Dickens style of writing, I think of the Book of Mormon, a tedious a Holy Book as I've ever read...  An entire post-Christian mythology written by a group of autistic people sitting around a table playing Exquisite Corpse - and so it came to pass, and so it came to pass, and so it came to pass...

I've spent countless hours, if not days, searching through the Trouser Press, dollar bins and the back-alleys of, and it's very rare that I come across a chart-topping song or artist in the new wave/post-new wave pop genre that I've got no familiarity with.  (Even rarer that I actually enjoy the song).  In this case, I came across the Woodentops in Oliver Assayas' 1986 film Disorder - a film that presents with weightier issues than those that make up a subgenre of post-punk trainspotting films- the Clash's Rude Boy, Penelope Spheeris' Decline of Western Civilization and Suburbia.  As anthropological curios & points of reference for context-hungry teens they serve their purpose -  as an illuminating or even halfway interesting piece of art, not as much.  Assayas' meditation on the corrosive of guilt and murder without consequence , each in their own way, are Cliff-notes Dostoevsky for their respective class/subculture.

This song shares the same manic urgency of The Feelies or Human Switchboard, but has more adventurous production and instrumentation.  The obvious touchstone for Rolo McGinty's brashly confident voice is Echo & The Bunnymen's Will Sergeant.

Alright, it's back to R&B for a little while, so I don't end up investigating bands that shared bills with the Housemartins.

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