Thursday, December 20, 2018

the Ice age

“I call it the lost generation, because from 2000 to 2017, nothing really defines that whole generation in pop culture. Like, how would you look back at 2000 to 2017 and remember anything? How would you see somebody wearing some gear and say, ‘Hey, that’s gotta be from 2014?’ There’s no music there, there’s no pop culture, there’s no fashion that defines the generation. I look at the Nineties like it’s the last truly great decade." -  Vanilla Ice

That's like a vernacular version of the Gospel according to K-Punk and Simonretromania being ventriloquized through Vanilla Ice's mouth there!

Ice is quoted in this piece by Rob Sheffield for Rolling Stone about Nineties revivalism, the Nineties nostalgia circuit that Ice and others are doing very nice business on, and decade-consciousness.

Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray also quoted on the Nineties:

“It was the last heyday of the music business. When you were a kid in your garage, you could pick up a guitar and dream of being part of that. I compare it to these young kids playing basketball, wanting to be in the NBA – then all of a sudden the NBA disappears, and the NFL disappears. Now people are still playing basketball, but it’s the local rec league; people are still playing football, but you gotta go find some guys and get some games together. The infrastructure of stardom is gone. So you look back on that – not just as a business, but romantically. ‘Boy, that was fun, going to Tower Records to see what’s new, watching MTV for a world premiere.'”

Sheffield lays on McGrath this idea of Nineties as the last proper Decade with a sense of itself c.f. first two decades of the 21st Century being Zeigeist-ly amorphous:
 “Right – what would you call it, the Noughties? The 2000s? No one knows what to call it. No one knows when it started or ended. It took a while for the stink of the Nineties to go away, because nothing replaced it. The industry imploded, so there weren’t new bands coming up. Name the last rock star. The top ten touring bands in Pollstar – it was still the Chili Peppers, it was still Soundgarden – God rest his soul, Chris Cornell – it was still the Dave Matthews Band. Nothing replaced the Nineties, even though the decade was over.”
This doesn't seem true to me, seems a bit of a self-serving fiction - there are plenty of definitively 21st Century pop stars, some of whom have taken on and taken over the old functions of rockstardom (excess, outrage, political statements, being taken seriously / taking themselves very seriously) ....  indeed Rockism is alive and well in pop itself, ironically (and boringly)... rock anthems of the 21st Century is a shrinking category, true... guitars are rarely heard in the Top 40, for sure....

As for the no-feel-to-2000s/2010s ... I guess we'll have to wait a bit longer to see if early-Noughties nostalgia kicks in. Won't be long now, if the 'stalgia is already settling in on the late Nineties, eve of Y2K moment.

YeahI wouldn't be surprised if a certain look (to clothes, hair) and feel 'n' finish to entertainment products will start to become apparent as we move into the future - something we couldn't put our finger on at the time, what with the welter of revivalism and pastiche

the clunkiness of an era becomes its charm

(although films and TV of the late Eighties and early Nineties often look really shit)

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

retro, you know the scores (running with the Pakula)

Watching Homecoming - an addictive new podcast-sourced show - I really enjoyed the Pakula / 1970s paranoid thriller vibe to the camera work: the aerial, hovering, Panopticon / surveillance-vibe shots,  the decor and locations (sterile office interiors of huge looming scale, with that cold strip-lighting look - cf. newsrooms of All the President's Men),  the new-built buildings and soul-less exurban perimeter zones.

There even seemed to be a deliberately Pakula-esque vibe to the music, with certain motifs redolent of the eerie-voice refrains in Klute.

Well it turns out that was even more the case than I thought.

Via Bruce Levenstein, this piece explains how director Sam Esmail deliberately repurposed underscores and motifs from 1970s thrillers (and some later films in a similar vein), despite the enormous cost of doing so.

After learning that, with the later episodes I've spotted a recycled swathe of ruminative, melancholy jazz used in The Conversation (that bit at the end when the Gene Hackman character is thoroughly defeated, hoist by his own surveillance-expert petard etc) and an imposing, stately fanfare (evocative of power and its untouchability) that I'm pretty certain is from All the Presidents's Men or The Parallax View.

But the rest have been more elusive, vaguely redolent of Carpenter or Michael Small but hard to pin to specific.

Ah, stop press - also via Bruce Levenstein - a piece at Indiewire that gives  a detailed breakdown of what soundtrack motifs were recycled in Homecoming - turns out I'm right about The Conversation, Klute and All the President's Men. Lots of good-taste choices, including The Andromeda Strain OST by Gil Melle


Friday, November 2, 2018

haunted haystacks and ghosts in the garden

Anybody seen this? Any cop?

At Pop Matters, John A. Riley writes:

"Arcadia compiles footage from the British Film Institute's sprawling national archive to create an impressionistic collage film about rural Britain...

"... Paul Wright's film is primed to be received in the context of two related phenomena: Hauntology and Folk Horror. Both represent new ways of thinking about our relationship to time and place, and of finding the sinister within the everyday, the former by emphasizing repressed pasts and failed futures, the latter by emphasizing sinister textures and themes lurking below the surface of Britain's rural communities. However, it may be equally if not more helpful to think of Arcadia as a sculpture done in paracinema: countless hours of public service announcements, promotional and instructional videos, and amateur-shot footage, are here given an unruly second lease of life....

"...  a dizzying assemblage of bucolic, folkloric footage; maypole dancing and sundry village festivities that wouldn't look out of place in The Wicker Man, harvesting crops, hunting, bucolic landscapes. Occasionally footage from a well-known narrative film, such as an unmistakable glimpse of Helen Mirren from Herostratus, is thrown into the mix.... 

".... The film doesn't present the archive footage chronologically, which means that a variety of formats, from badly damaged silent-era film to pristine 35mm, to home formats such as VHS and Super 8, all brush up against each other to dizzying, sometimes foreboding effect. The film works by associating, linking things in a montage chain that, in one example, goes from the pageantry of traditional village celebrations such as Morris dancing and 'Obby 'Oss festivals, to the '60s counterculture, exemplified by a patronizingly interviewed hippy who says he celebrates love "by doing psychedelic freakouts every now and again" to more recent times, through images of the kind of barnyard raves beloved by the '80s/'90s rave generation, as the soundtrack works itself up into a relentless pulse.... 

" Arcadia is a frequently fascinating, often unsettling look at traditions and places that can often feel like they are vanishing before our eyes."

Feel both allured and also faintly fatigued by the prospect - like this really should be the absolute last word on terrain that is well ploughed by this point... 
- perhaps even whatever comes after the last word.... 

Riley also praises the score by Portishead's Adrian Utley and Goldfrapp's Will Gregory.... 

"The eclectic score, at times evoking Debussy, at other times sounding like '90s lounge music revival (not surprising given its composers), and at one point breaking out into an ominously-tinged '70s bovver rock stomp, is worthy of serious standalone consideration..."

Anything even slightly connected to the stench of Goldfrapp I'm a bit sceptical about....

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


postscript: Chuck Eddy chirps in with commentary about the nostalgia overload in pop, with folks simultaneously ransacking and remembrancing the Eighties, Nineties and the early 2000s

too much pop past innit

retro (on the) gaming

a piece by Dr Kate Lister on those prostitute micro-ads in phone boxes, which have now become part of urban history - collectibles