Preceded by: Radio-Activity (1975)
Followed by: The Man-Machine (1978)
Related to: not available yet
Good morning boys and girls, take your history books out and open it again at chapter 23: ‘Europe: Endless? (150-50 B. OWG)’. Put yourself in a comfortable position and switch your focus to maximum power, as this chapter presents itself as all-comprehensive and will be treated without any break. So Maxine, put away that walkman and listen together with the rest of the group carefully to the following sound fragment.
Sweet. So what did you hear guys? How could you link it with what we saw last week? Mima?
Artificial, fictitious sounds. But nevertheless somehow recognizable. It was not all organic, notwithstanding it did have a certain kind of verve in it… Last time we spoke about how the population in new urban areas started to grow, surrounded by machines and industry. They must have become acquainted with a whole new range of sounds they’d never heard before.
Absolutely. The European continent was developing on various domains at an enormous high pace, one that was never seen before. What you heard was a nice example of cross-pollination, an example of how culture was fed by the economic and technological world it was created in. Those technological innovations of course also greatly influenced the sociological domain, what to think for example about the rise of the high-speed train? You should realize that free of charge flying for everybody was not introduced till 60 B. OWG, so this train really was the first-rate way to visit and discover all those new countries during the early years. Travelling quick from metropolis to metropolis, suddenly it became reality with this miraculous machine. All those borders between all those former different countries seemed to disappear aboard of this train, and the New Europe seemed to be one infinite entity. Nationalities that were at physical war with each other for about 95% of the time during the previous gazillion years, wasn’t it great that they all dissolved in this one, big, promising European identity now? What it certainly promised was prosperity. Prosperity, welfare and an unlimited wealth for everybody. It was the fulfillment of the last part of this promise that proved to become the greatest battle for Europe in the decades to follow.
The continent seemed to wallow in elegance and decadence, which indeed became reality for a certain amount of the New Europeans, while it was destined to remain an imagination for others. At this point, history offered two options: ensure that this balance will be restored again or ensure that the boundaries between reality and imagination become invisible. The last one was picked, supported by the infinite opportunities that the digital revolution now had to offer.
Boys and girls, and this is really important, when a person doesn’t have an awful lot to be proud of or happy about in real life, you give this person a mirror. Obviously this won’t change his reality, but what does it matter when you’ll only have to see and show your reflection? This reflection can be completely adapted to your likings, eventually becoming a totally different result. After a while, it doesn’t matter anymore how you perceive things yourself, but only how others perceive you.
This is exactly where we situate the origins of the so-called ‘dummie-mass’, that would persistently ensure the stability of the young and ambitious continent during the following decades. Called after synthetic dolls that were used to sell certain products and their accompanying ideas, the dummies were considered not to be able to think for themselves any longer. The only thing the dummies were expected to do, was to utter that which was put in first, hereby permanently striving after an enormous uniformity with its congeners. That’s why they often speak about ‘the human being as flawless minimalistic pop-art’ when talking about this era. Are there any questions?
Who actually was the creator of the sound fragment we heard?
Well, the artist was officially never discovered, but according to unofficial research he should have been a pre-European, Austrian composer who lived a quite enigmatic life, as a result of which there’s very little known about him. All right, next week we’ll see how Europe evolves towards 1 B. OWG, with the interchangeable relation between humans and robots and the rise of a new source of power: control of data.
Genre: Folk Jazz Soul
Preceded by: Hard Nose the Highway (1973)
Followed by: A Period of Transition (1977)
Related to: Van Morrison – Astral Weeks
I already ran into him on the first day of my stay, during a short hike around the guest house, the first evening after arriving. It approached me against a background of nightfall and lush broadleaf trees, this bowed silhouette with large, black hat. I politely saluted him ‘Good evening.’ (greeting passers-by is always one of the first social corrections a city dweller makes after leaving his natural habitat), and it grumbled something incomprehensible.
I saw him again the next morning, when he shuffled into the breakfast room. He queued up, decorated with black sunglasses, looked down when the waitress was serving his British delicacies, and growled something when she asked if the gentleman would prefer two or three sausages. He seated at the table next to mine and started the processing of his plate carbohydrates. A short break was inserted halfway, when he took a sip of his coffee and asked me without giving a look: “Here for hiking?”. “Mainly for the pretty women”, I said while nodding towards the table opposite to ours, where a number of devouring creatures had plumped down, whose ancestors were at the time wisely left behind on the island by the Vikings. He looked at me, as far as that was possible from behind the sunglasses, and something that could pass for a smile appeared on his face. “If you would like to make a long hike, I leave one hour after breakfast”, he said.
One hour and eighteen minutes later, I was waiting at the entrance of the guest house in my comfortable hence completely tasteless outfit, when the former shadow appeared. The black hat, dark sunglasses, long coat and black boots passed me by without a word and after a brief moment of astonishment I started to follow him. The glorious woods of the Green Country were reached quickly due to his high pace, and I took the risk of asking a question. Yes, he was indeed well acquainted with the area, already coming here in his youth, lying around the river on cool summer nights. I was still trying to paint that picture in my head, constantly walking one meter behind him, while he deliberately told more. How he kept returning here with friends and women, offering them the perfect setting for endless conversations about literature and poetry. Countless times had he walked these tracks with a girlfriend of that time, who he had met during one of his sparse social escapades at Miss Lucy’s. I’d already read about this place and its notorious binges in the brochure that the owner of the guest house had given me, being mentioned as one of the main attractions in the region. However, she left for the US to pursue a career in show business and he’d never seen her since.
After a while we arrived at a small crossroads, where he decided to have a short break, not fully to my dismay considering the shape I was in. He asked where I was from. “From the city”, I said. He repeated those last two words, but this time accompanied by a cynical undertone, while he offered his whiskey flask. “I also lived in the city for a while. Never liked it. Too many people that I actually didn’t want to get to know, in an environment that is completely constructed on reason and ratio. Never a proper view at the stars, too much light.”… “I always remained a stranger in my own town, got the feeling that I could no longer trust anyone after some affairs. Danish or sandwich?”. I opted for the danish, we carefully ate our lunch in silence, he blew his nose and grumbled “Geronimo” before taking off again.
I was taking in the astonishing nature and asked my guide after the length of our undertaking, initially answered by some silence. “People waste too much time by asking too many stupid questions. Just make sure you reach a point where you learn something you’ll remember the rest of your life. What’s your greatest sin?”, he asked. “A general disappointment in the entire humanity”, I said. The Hat remained silent, while The Boots drudged on through a long mud trail. The next hill (up and down) was also consumed in silence, he just looked behind him once, and like if he was amused by the visibly weary look on my face, he started to whistle while accelerating just a tiny bit.
He sipped another time in the valley and he actually started to talk again. “When distrust becomes destructive, it manifests itself as the impossibility to appreciate anything at all. Those people end up as collector’s items in museums that nobody visits.” We walked on and I hoped for another short break when he opened up his bag again, but that proved to be wishful thinking when he handed over a last snack while carrying on. “Always remember that you’re part of humanity yourself too, so there must be something good about it.”, he said while our path met the river again. He stopped and spoke: “We’re at your point. To get back home again, you just keep walking alongside the water for about four miles. It’s not the shortest way, but the river doesn’t mind.” He shook my hand, tipped his hat and wandered back into the woods.
Oh, the snot has caked against my pants, so happy new year:
10. (4) Radiohead – In Rainbows (2007)
9. (*) The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed (1969)
8. (23) Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
7. (5) Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde (1966)
6. (10) Genesis – Selling England by the Pound (1973)
5. (6) Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow (1967)
4. (8) Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974)
3. (3) Love – Forever Changes (1967)
2. (1) The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
1. (2) The Beatles – Revolver (1966)
10. (6) Genesis – Selling England by the Pound (1973)
9. (16) Talking Heads – Remain In Light (1980)
8. (5) DJ Shadow – Endtroducing… (1996)
7. (18) Prince – Purple Rain (1984)
6. (4) The Beatles – Revolver (1966)
5. (1) Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (1971)
4. (39) Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde (1966)
3. (3) Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (1968)
2. (*) Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974)
1. (2) Radiohead – Kid A (2000)
I can’t tell you how I feel, but this wheel’s on fire:
11. (15) Santana – Abraxas (1970)
“The melodies just know what I need, but the rhythm knows what I want.”
11. (8) Radiohead – In Rainbows (2007)
“On 10 october 2007 we witnessed the end of an era.”
Be it sight, sound, smell or touch, still marching with the soldier boy behind:
20. (7) The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
19. (24) Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)
18. (13) Paul Simon – Graceland (1986)
17. (14) Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995)
16. (9) Paul McCartney & Wings – Band on the Run (1973)
““I yelled for joy, we passed the bottle, the great blazing stars came out, the far receding hills got dim. I felt like an arrow that could shoot out all the way.”
20. (*) Van Morrison – Veedon Fleece (1974)
19. (7) The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
18. (19) Fleetwood Mac – Bare Trees (1972)
17. (21) The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
16. (22) Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II (1969)
“Read out loud: Heks. Heks. Heks. Heks. Heks. Heks. Heks. Heks. Heks. Heks.”
It is here, it is now, it is real:
21. (35) Talking Heads – Remain In Light (1980)
“You’re a train, man.”
25. (38) Donald Fagen – The Nightfly (1982)
24. (20) The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin (1999)
23. (17) Crosby Stills Nash & Young – Déjà Vu (1970)
22. (13) Paul McCartney & Wings – Band on the Run (1973)
21. (31) Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow (1967)
“To quote the ‘musical and spiritual advisor’ credited on this album: “Far out, man.”