An unsung hero

Thomas Leer is one of the great unsung heroes of the 1980s… supremely talented, with a gorgeous voice and a gift for melody and groove and texture -and- mood, his career somehow never really took off. A cult-like figure of the indie/electronic scene (“Contradictions LP” is pure gold), he proceeded to try pop (“Scale of Ten”) but just wasn’t able to compete with the giants. Then again, he may have made too many concessions at this point…

His luck seemed to be on the verge of changing when ZTT teamed him up with Claudia Brucken of then-imploded Propaganda, but the duo committed the “sin” of extending the shiny aesthetics of the label’s rooster as these were going out of fashion. Act, a gem of a band, flopped… and Thomas Leer seemed to fall off the radar.

Guess again: he is still very much following his muse… in his own terms. His nocturnal, promiscuous sounds of yore still hunting down their own traces and reconfiguring feverishly.
Highly recommended. A sample of his online shop here

… and a classic:

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A short reflection on “Eco-Visionaries”

MAAT’s exhibition-manifesto “Eco-Visionaries” feels like a mixed bag – personally I’m not entirely sure it fulfils the pedagogical/activist premise: as the environment seems so geared towards aesthetics and entertainment, there is a danger of emptying the urgency of the subject. Its magnitude may end up distracting from the necessary engagement with the most poignant pieces: I saw this happen as visitors sampled in passing some of the videos that need to be watched in full in order to leave an effective imprint.

However, I do not want to detract from what is mostly an impressive exhibition, definitely worth checking out. Two pieces in particular, IMHO: Superflex’s “Flooded McDonald’s” video is a hypnotic experience where an abandoned fast food joint is gradually submerged in full; and Rimini Protokoll’s “win >< win” installation is a blueprint for what “interactive” can actually accomplish beyond mere sensor-triggered random noise.

Telectu 2018

I remember the release of BELZEBU and how it completely entranced me back in the mid-1980s… OFF OFF and HALLEY subsequently cemented my commitment to Jorge Lima Barreto’s musical vision, seemingly too exotic for our local aesthetics, then fully focused on a host of pop and rock acts. I still have these recordings and a few more, and play them occasionally. IMHO they have aged very well.

None of my friends seemed to share my deep interest in Telectu back then, some were even hostile – maybe due to the fact that Vítor Rua had traded the promise of stardom with GNR for these foreboding, hermetic corridors of avant-garde. Telectu thus became a solitary pleasure for a while; I found a few kindred spirits throughout the years, but all seemed to happen off the radar somehow.

I commend Vítor Rua on this revisitation. It is an essential page of Portuguese avant-garde electronica that does need to be properly acknowledged and remembered. It is unlikely I’ll be able to make it, but hopefully this occasion will be repeated.

Como se fosse ontem

Rever a amiga de longa data Eglantina Monteiro ontem à tarde foi uma alegria além das palavras! Tanto por contar e saber, como se o tempo não tivesse passado por nós nem pelo mundo.
E a não perder a exposição por si comissariada a partir dos arquivosEphemera, patente no MIRA FORUM!

Encrypt this


Two surreal UX experiences today:

– I marked a dinner this coming week on my google calendar… only to find google automatically added a cute google-generic illustration of a set table as background of the event. Someone somewhere somehow believes this to be clever, maybe even necessary.

– I found out skype now has a list of emojis for you to use in your… video calls. You can flash them on screen for the other person to understand how you’re feeling… i.e. if you’re in tears about something, surely it would be enough for the person on the other side to see -you- crying in order to “get it”? Apparently not, according to skype: you’ll have to validade your feeling with a freakin’ yellow blurb. And needless to say, the nuances of human emotion are reduced to a handful of icons to choose from – the usual: happy, sad, angry, love… and the freakin’ thumbs up, believe it or not. You are invited to press the “thumbs up” icon rather than giving an actual thumbs up on camera. Let’s call it the encryption of body language.

In order to sell us this silly stuff, these companies often resort to variations of the “express yourself” slogan. To which I reply: “my body will resist emoji reduction, particularly when there is video available”. And as far as the dinner calendar experience goes: maybe it’s time to start spelling wrong on purpose. Since they’ve unraveled language anyway with AO90, might as well put the chaos to good use. At least while our coming “citizen ratings” are not penalised for “insufficient writing skills” or something.

Rate the rating

This obsession with rating “experiences” is becoming a bit too much. Stay at a hotel, rate the experience. Get on a flight, rate the experience. Buy a coffee, rate the experience (and you may even win an ipad). This rating often consists of selecting “sad emoji”, “meh emoji” or “happy emoji”.
Recently I’ve even been invited to rate my airport bathroom “experience” by pressing an emoji on a digital screen by the exit. Yes, “experiencing” an empty bladder is usually a good thing, thank you very much.
I believe my first contact with emoji rating was at the China border passport control in 2014. I was meant to rate the experience of having my passport checked. No doubt it was meant to impact on the poor officer’s rating.
Now, can we start rating the “rating experience” itself?

Apart

On a journey cross-country towards unknown duties I pass the metropolis
Rush hour roars on autopilot, choreographing engines
Skies of lead now cobalt cosmos, crystal-soaked
A futuristic smogscope of promised melancholia
Faint and womb-like

I shift gears and horse onwards, and wonder of the loved ones
All towering abandonment, I wonder
and slogans and screens and bridges
Themselves weeping or orgasming, who knows

We crossed incognito, surgically, and somehow lost ourselves along the way
Now all pseudo-hopes and shiny protocol

A Winter sadness now floods, molasses, unredeemed
Neons and mega-brands and a worthless GPS
The magnum bridge funnels, now darker, you a glimmer
we drive, we know
We drift apart

Dad

My father Francisco Alvelos left us 25 years ago today… time passes unforgivingly, but his memory remains.
I owe so much of who I am and try to be to his wisdom and kindness.

Grace and Bitterness

After my eurovision rant yesterday, someone called my attention to this song, already left behind – probably too dark/edgy for mass consumption. Not bad at all, actually really, really good – yep, it definitely transcends the Salvador-cloning syndrome, incorporating quietude as a meta-narrative…
… and there are actual historical echoes of Portuguese protest balladry and Jobim/Buarque… tribute rather than lazy appropriation.
This may actually be the best Portuguese protest song in a long, long time: the lyrics are an existential hall of mirrors of bitter resignation in face of contemporary overabundance and over-stimulation, in face of the impossibility of emancipation. It’s just too sophisticated to become an anthem… but I vouch for its longevity. Bravo.