Friday, December 23, 2011

review by john calvert for Quietus finds proto-retromaniacal /end-of-history themes in the work of Gorillaz

"their debut is overlooked as a precursor to indie's mad rush to 'super-hybridity' throughout the past decade... The Japanese element – manifested in the animation, the cutesy instrumentation, the melodic e-numbers, Hatori's girly j-pop vocals, the Toyko-neon textures, and even just a general redolence - lent the futuristic sheen of hyperreality that Japanese culture had signified since the 80s. And because this was art-pop and therefore packed with subtext, the aesthetic also yielded a batch of secondary associations: thoughts of Japanese trash culture, Roxy-style distance, pop songs about pop, and even the trauma of Hiroshima. There is a whole tranche of Japanese art dealing with the notion that the tragedy had stripped the country of its history, leaving only the chintzy detritus of pop culture.... Together, these implied ideas created an atmosphere artist/sociologist Gerhard Richter called 'afterness' - a kind of mass cultural despondency that Albarn hit on with the Good, The Bad And The Queen; an album dank with the melancholic sentiment that everything had been done before ('modern life is rubbish' as Blur had declared years before). This wearied state-of mind that The Good, The Bad And The Queen embodied chimed with Gorillaz' aesthetic, for there’s surely a sadness implicit in the recycling of Western arcana that imbues so much of Japanese pop culture. The same air of lamentation and loss emanating from Albarn's other supergroup cut through Gorillaz tracks like 'Feel Good Inc' and 'On Melancholy Hill'."

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