Yazoo is one of the most unique and powerful acts of early synthpop, and have been a big source of inspiration for me. Vince Clarke’s crisp, melodic synth and Alison Moyet’s powerful voice are a perfect match. Check out their music video for Don’t Go, a nice window into the early 80s, a time when talent mattered more in pop music than fitting into some narrow ideal of physical beauty. If you want to hear more of this style of music, there is a great BBC documentary called Synth Britannia which chronicles the rise of synthpop in the UK, where Vince Clarke and Yazoo are also extensively featured. Last time I checked it was available for free on Youtube.
My music has finally made its way out on the commercial market. Not that I’m expecting to make me rich anytime soon, certainly my expenses will be way higher than my income this year from music. (Unless I score a radio hit or something.) So here is a link to Duke Pope Zero on Spotify. My music is also available through all the other major streaming platforms, plus Bandcamp, Soundcloud and a few other minor music networking sites which I plan to write reviews of here soon. The focus on the blog will also shift more towards music related stuff from now.
Put on your conical hats, lean back and immerse yourselves in this music video, bringing you straight back to that early nineties post-modernist aesthetic. “Can You Forgive Her” features the typical Pet Shop Boys sound, mixing 90s dance with ambient and orchestral elements, accompanied by airy vocals and funny, yet poetic lyrics.
I shared this song with a friend on facebook a while back, and introduced the post with the question in the title. He told me: “Not sure if anyone ever said that.” Maybe nobody said it out loud, but I still feel like some people have harboured suspiciouns in this regard. Well, here is the proof that will have you discard your doubts if you ever had any; Break my Stride by Mathew Wilder from 1983. Take note of the crazy outfits, the interesting dance moves and Mathew Wilder’s proto-hipster moustache!
I finally have my own personal website, which I’m being told is a must for creative professionals in today’s competitive online marketplace. Here it is: www.dukepope.com
To be honest I’m still trying to figure out how to get ahead in this rat race of self promotion and social media mumbo jumbo. I sometimes wish we could go back to the time of knocking doors and calling up solid desktop telephones with gut shaking mechanical ringing and get through to a real person on the other side. In reality I guess there’s nothing stopping us from knocking doors and ringing up people, and despite the mantra of “online presence is everything” perhaps this is still the way that would actually get you somewhere as an aspiring creative professional. I guess it’s time to put it to the test! (And perhaps I’ll even let you know how it goes). In the meantime please have a look at my webpage and let me know what you think of it! (And as a side note, if you click the “music” link, it will take you to my soundcloud and my latest song, which I finished last week, called Believe in Love.)
After briefly straying into the domain of protests and revolution, it’s time to get back on track with some funky R&B from the height of the carnivalistic madness of the 1980s. Behind this great track are the Bar Kays, a resilient band with a stormy history. They started out in 1966 as a backing band for Stax Records, and were chosen to support Otis Redding in 1967. Tragically, four of the founding members died in the same plane crash that also ended Otis Redding’s career much too early. The two surviving members of the Bar Kays however managed to re-establish the band – an admirable accomplishment. They went on to become a successful funk band in the seventies, and kept up the success with a more commercial sound as they entered the eighties.
Since Black Metal originated in Scandinavia in the early nineties, the scandal ridden metal sub genre has become a prime cultural export of Norway. The audience stretches from Buenos Aires via Teheran to Tokyo, and the biggest names still draw massive audiences on their world tours. At this point however I wish to wipe the dust of a Norwegian rock band at the total opposite end of the scale; Hair Rockers TNT. They never reached as big an audience as their Swedish counterpart Europe, but their tunes are equally catchy and the band bangs out a constant virtuosic overload. With vocalist Tony Harnell covering four octaves, and Guitarist Ronny Le Tekro possessing some wild guitar skills, they did however become very big in Scandinavia and in Japan (of course).
Allthough Wes Wilson is seen as the father of the psychedelic rock poster, the poster art of Victor Moscoso stands for me as the archetypal expression of the hippie era. With vibrating colours and psychedelic imagery, his posters take you straight back to that special vibe of the late 1960s San Fransisco. Victor Moscoso was born in Spain in 1937, but moved with his family to Brooklyn, New York three years later, where he spent most of his youth and childhood. He went on to study art at Yale under the supervision of Josef Albers, whose color theory later became an important inspiration for him. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road was a motivating factor for Moscoso to move on to California and San Fransisco in 1959. But it wasn’t until 1967 with the Summer of Love that Victor Moscoso rose to international fame, with his posters for the Avalon Ballroom (whose concerts featured artists such as Janis Joplin and the Doors). There is an excellent interview with him at The Comics Journal, for those who would like to read more about his fascinating life and refreshing take on art. Victor Moscoso is still active as an artist.
I’m amazed by how simple and yet how cool this music video is. (Directed and animated by Ellis & Sac Magique). Norwegian electronic duo Ost & Kjex (cheese & crackers) have been around for quite a few years. I love their playful, unpretentious style and their quirky falsetto vocals.
This short film by German animator Andreas Hykade takes you on a spastic journey back and forth through cartoon history, with short detours via evolution and psychedelic trip.
Canadian animator Ryan Larkin has sadly become just as well known for his unfortunate life story, as his powerful animations. After being nominated for Oscars with “Walking” in 1969, he followed up the success with this amazing little film in 1972. Unfortunately, Street Musique became the last complete movie he made. Somehow Larkin ended up on a path of alcoholism, drug abuse and homelessness. A few years before his death in 2007, he did however have a little comeback; as the director of the music video “spare change”, but only as a vague shadow the creative genius he once used to be.
Here is a gem of a music video, of legendary Jean Michel Jarre’s song Zoolook. It was one of two singles on the album of the same name, released back in 1984. The plot revolves around a crazy Frankenstein-ish scientist who travels the world with his fantastic robot show, enchanting young audiences from Shanghai to Zanzibar…
This is one of my favorite classic computer game tunes, composed by Martin Iveson for the Jaguar XJ220 game on Amiga back in the early nineties. I grew up playing this game on our neighbours’ Amiga 1200, in what remains an intense childhood memory. The smell of the computer, the sound of the loading floppy discs and the excitement of us promising young race car drivers tucked into a small boys room, it all feels palpable to this day.
Yellow Magic Orchestra are less known than their German contemporaries Kraftwerk, but they were no less important in shaping the synthpop of the eighties and in turn electronic music as we know it today. Rydeen is one of the highlights from their second album, Solid State Survivor, mixing disco with eastern musical elements. It’s an energetic and uptempo tune, which also showcases their pioneering use of synthesizers, sequencers and drum machines. Although the music video may look simple to our modern eyes, it must have been pretty advanced for it’s time.