The Batman Shave

When I was a kid there was the odd spin-off product stemming from the fantasy world of comic books. Of course, the highly aggressive and intricate marketing strategies of today were non-existent, but still… kids would get their pretend shaving cream with the Batman logo and the like. You played with your legos, you played with your toys, you shaved like Batman.

Fascinating to watch how in 2017 this very same template has been brought to adult consumer habits and expectations. As a 51 year old, am I expected to shave my long beard off as Batman would? Or is this product targeted towards young men barely out of puberty?…

Actually, possibly one more evidence that the current consumerist template bets on a sort of perpetual child in all of us; and yet, the aesthetics have gone so much darker. The world these super-heroes inhabit is now a brooding dystopia: what exactly is the point of a clean shave amongst the apocalypse?

Maybe we can add the nostalgia factor somewhere in there: as I used to read superhero comics in my youth while listening to Pink Floyd, maybe now I’m expected to listen to the “Dark Side of the Moon” 6-CD mega-remaster extravaganza while shaving like the super-heroes I used to witness saving the world on a regular basis a few decades ago.

I’ll stick to trimming for the time being, thank you very much. Now, where did I put my Spider-man beard trimmer?

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Coming October 21

Antifluffy Sings, produced by yours truly, will be launched on CD at futureplaces X, 21 October 2017. Free copies for all participants, and an accompanying bandcamp version for everyone else. Stay tuned for lots more info.

Two new sound editions at FuturePlaces 2017

FUTUREPLACES 2017 will feature the launch of two brand new audio editions, both freely available during the medialab: Realismo Mágico, a release by our partner Radio Manobras, and Antifluffy Sings Songs That Will Not Live Forever, where our mascot is accompanied by a laptop orchestra made up of U.Porto digital media sound researchers. Production and design on both releases by yours truly.

Join the ranks October 17-21 in Porto: all free, all welcome.

 

Grainy evidence of a kid onstage

Blimey, what a time warp… That kid on the white cap is me onstage screaming off the top of my lungs in 1987 at the mythical Rock Rendez Vous in Lisbon. Sharing the photo are Helena Soares and José Maria Lopes; off the pic but on stage were also Anselmo Canha, Orquídea Calisto and Paulo Solá.

Somehow RTP got hold of some dusty photos somewhere… Media was so scare, we were left with little more than our memories. Everything was scarce, actually, and yet so many of us kids just went for it, trying things out without a safety net – financial, aesthetic, technical, or otherwise. A peripheral version of post-punk, based on the few echoes we scrounged from late-night radio and hiss-infested third-generation tapes of expensive import LPs. Like the grain on this photo, really.

An elegy to the hidden megalopolis

Iain Sinclair says goodbye to London, the city that inspired countless psychogeographical drifts of his – and translated into masterpieces of meta-narratives on the traces that do not get a place in the grand narrative. Now that the grand narrative seems to engulf everything and everyone into cloud entertainment, fear, overexposure and financial abstraction, the time seems right for a dignified farewell.
I had the good fortune of coordinating a workshop with him and artist Renchi Bicknell, back in 2001 at the Royal College of Art; I remember a shared sense of possibility that has meanwhile seemed to dry out. And yet, his work remains, and even his farewell is  somehow a glimpse of possible adventures.

FPX and the future

Not so long ago, social media were heralded as tools for connectivity and solidarity; in some ways they still are, but what we seem to have underestimated is how media are not always necessarily used for common good. So we face quite a few challenges ahead, including the possible unraveling of our perception of truth – even reality itself.
When futureplaces began in 2008, the “future” was largely a utopian projection; these days it seems to have become a constant, volatile alarm sound. This will be one of the topics addressed throughout futureplaces X.

Advertising and Catastrophe

Advertising is looking very strange lately. Not that it has changed itself in nature or aesthetics, although it’s becoming a bit turbo; it’s the semantic gap that somehow seems to be widening between the “endless fun” narrative and the reporting on exponential catastrophes with which it alternates.
In other words: I click on the link to the article and video update on the terrible news coming from the other side of the Atlantic… and get a video of joyful guys and gals having a party.
To my actual friends: stay safe, my thoughts are with you.

Loss

It has been a devastating year for a whole generation of music luminaries – musicians and sound-makers that stood outside the canons of pop and rock… they re-invented the rules, largely because their visions were bigger than those rules. I thus pay my respects to Peter Principle, Walter Becker, Jaki Liebezeit… and now Holger Czukay.

I find it hard to imagine a bigger loss for the generation of post-WW2 avant-rockers than the passing of Holger Czukay. A former student of Stockhausen, he migrated and expanded his premises to territories of popular music that could have otherwise remained tied to reductive formulas. The whole of post-rock is indebted to Holger Czukay’s groundbreaking experiments, and even more so as far as World Music, post-punk, Eno and the whole art of sampling.

Holger was tuning into short-wave radio onstage, and reverting what came up on the ether into the live music… in the early seventies. Younger generations need to know this went on, and how radical this was, even by the already out-there “krautrock” standards. In a way, his was the gift of surgical precision among the mayhem.

Holger Czukay’s legacy is immense… he will be hugely missed.

 

KS70

Klaus Schulze is 70 years old today. He almost single-handedly provided the soundtrack to a year or so in my youth when I became obsessively immersed in his sequencer-driven soundscapes. His LPs were non-existent (or extremely hard to find) in Portuguese shops, so I mail-ordered whatever I found in specialist magazines, and grabbed whatever else I could get my hands on when on vacation abroad.

His string of first ten albums, from Irrlicht to “X”, is in many ways a “greatesthits” of the then-called Berlin school (Well, I’ll save some well-deserved space in the pantheon for Zeit, Phaedra and Rubycon by Tangerine Dream). 

He seemed to have lost the plot afterwards for a while, save for the occasional glimpse of brilliance (Trancefer, 1982, is unmissable). I drifted away myself. But then, occasionally, out of the blue comes a gem such as Kontinuum from 2007 – in many ways an update on the superlative Mirage, from 1977. 

Happy Birthday then, KS. And thanks for the sounds.