Chronicles of Pop-archaeology: Romo

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God is dead – that’s nice! Sunglasses worn on head – that’s nice! (Minty, “That’s Nice”)

It’s official: the 1990s are back and Rediscovering Completely Forgotten Music phenomena (especially the Next Big Things which never became truly big) is about to become a fad. It’s quite probable that revival mania and pop-archaeology will eventually lead to finding a trace of Romantic Modernism, or Romo in short – one of the most ephemeral music movements of the past decade, which was born (and soon faded) in the UK circa 1995.

Said to be a stylish answer to Britpop’s penchant for sweatshirts, pubs and ‘lad culture’, Romo bands and their fandom tried to revive the glamorous spirit of 70s and 80s and merge it with ultra-modern, pre-millennium decadence. Japan, Roxy Music and Soft Cell were their model idols, but the early, eyeliner-and-leopard-print incarnation of Manic Street Preachers would be an equally appropriate reference.

The term (heavily promoted especially by Melody Maker‘s Simon Price) was an attempt to label a couple of bands which had little in common – except for ruffles, velvet and musical eclecticism pushed forward to the point of awkwardness. Most of these bands failed to release more than a single (those released are probably going to become rare collectibles very soon) and hence remained an obscure curiosity: Sexus, DexDexter, Plastic Fantastic, all of whom found themselves on the cover of Melody Maker before even recording anything. The Suede scenario definitely didn’t work in their case. Maybe because all of the aforementioned bands focused on their (honestly, amazing) looks rather than on writing good songs.

Two of the Romo bands were a bit more lucky – read about them after the jump.

“Nicholas Was” By 39°N

Beijing animation studio 39°N presents a suitably creepy animated version of Neil Gaiman’s poem/short story Nicholas Was for their 2010 Christmas card. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the reading here but the look is fantastic.

Via Neil Gaiman

Decompress With Eskmo

The holidays can be a trying time. Maybe you’re feeling frazzled after being bombarded for months by holiday advertising, holiday music, and various wars on holidays. Or maybe you don’t give two shits for these supposedly special days and are just feeling kicked around lately. Maybe you just want to chill out. If you find yourself in such a situation let me suggest sitting down and zoning out for two and a half minutes with the new song from Eskmo, a.k.a. Brendan Angelides, entitled “We Got More” which features a hypnotizing video by one Cyriak who has made a career of hypnotic animation. It may be the most relaxing two and a half minutes you have today.

EBM (Electronic Baby Music)

Happy Solstice! Whether the sun is coming back to you today, or moving further away, now is an opportune time to dance in honor of the polarity of light and darkness, death and life, joy and strife, asperity and mildness.

Preferably with DIE ÜBERBABIES:

Song is “Die Lüge”, by DAF. Thanks, DJ Dead Billy

*oontz oontz oontz oontz oontz oontz oontz oontz oontz*

(And then there’s this.)

BTC: “I Want a Cookie”

Here’s a helpful Monday morning mantra/boogie to help you manifest positive change in your life: “I want a raise. I want to go home. I want sex. I want a cookie. WAAAHHH. WAAAAOOW.”

The insubordinate music group known as The Evolution Control Committee “began in 1986 and continues to risk millions in copyright violation fines for what the ECC calls music'”. Founded by Mark Gunderson in Columbus, Ohio and now based out of SF, the ECC, along with John Oswald and The Tape-beatles, are progenitors of mashup who have long been using scads of unauthorized samples to cheekily protest against copyright law.

Their instant dance club hit, “I Want a Cookie” hails from the album Plagiarhythm Nation v2.0, released in 2003 on Seeland Records (Negativland’s label). Remember “Rocked by Rape“? Hee hee… that’s on there, too. These guys are sharp, funny, and free for downloading. (Although donations are always welcome.)

“Dance, dance… otherwise we are lost.”

Fellow admirers of the late Pina Bausch may get a little emotional, watching this trailer for the upcoming film Pina– Dance, Dance… Otherwise We Are Lost, made “For Pina Bausch, by Wim Wenders.”

Via Gabrielle Zucker, thanks.

Coming soon. In 3D, no less! In the wake of that first wave of 3D schlockbusters and huge budget family movies, it’s going to be interesting to watch and see if this oncoming wave of arguably more “arthouse friendly” 3D films (Wenders’ film, Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams, and Scorcese’s Invention of Hugo Cabret being chief among them) will change more critical viewers’ perceptions and expectations of the medium.

“Whisper Hungarian In My Ear”

From Bryan Boyce (the same twisted genius responsible for that Teletubbies/Bush State of the Union meme and the Karaoke Hellhounds, not to mention a bunch of other craziness) comes this ridiculously beautiful/beautifully ridiculous “belly dance horror movie” made using footage from the 1932 public domain classic White Zombie and starring Bela Lugosi, along with, well… a whole gaggle of Coilhouse regulars!

Featuring hypnotic music by Dan Cantrell and the Toids. To see the entire original film, visit good ol’ To revisit the oft-mentioned splendiferousness that is Rachel Brice, Mardi Love and Zoe Jakes, click here or here or here or here or here or here.

Tin Teardrops for Captain Beefheart

“If you want to be a different fish, you gotta jump out of the school.”
— Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart.

Born January 15, 1941. Died December 17, 2010.

Photo by Anton Corbijn, 1980.

He was one of the most singularly strange, goading, galvanizing musicians of the 20th century. We were very lucky to have him. From AllMusic:

…Captain Beefheart was one of modern music’s true innovators. The owner of a remarkable four-and-one-half octave vocal range, he employed idiosyncratic rhythms, absurdist lyrics and an unholy alliance of free jazz, Delta blues, latter-day classical music and rock & roll to create a singular body of work virtually unrivaled in its daring and fluid creativity. While he never came even remotely close to mainstream success, Beefheart’s impact was incalculable, and his fingerprints were all over punk, new wave and post-rock.

Rest in peace.

The FAM: We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

The management would like to apologize for the spotty nature of the Friday Afternoon Movie over the past few weeks. Rest assured that the worthless hack responsible for the content of this feature is currently being flogged with rabid badgers. The management would like to assure our readers that, should the aforementioned hack survive the aforementioned flogging, the FAM will return next week with actual content. In lieu of this week’s FAM, please accept this video of a parrot singing Drowning Pool’s “Bodies”. We thank you for your patience and hope you have a pleasant weekend.

A Requiem for Jean Rollin

image courtesy Fascination: The Jean Rollin Experience

Jean Michel Rollin Le Gentil, French film director fantastique and “gentle poet of sensual horror”,  passed away yesterday (December 15, 2010) at 72, after a long illness.

Much beloved by his fans and horror connoisseurs, lauded for his bizarre genius and the unique, intensely personal vision he brought to his films, Rollin leaves a legacy brimming with uncanny beauty and perverse, morbid delights.

Though his works contained elements of horror cinema,  Rollin insisted he did not make horror films; instead he prefers the label fantastique, which he described as “the opposite of the supernatural”.   His story telling, marked by “surreal sensibilities” and a “narcotic narrative drive”, made for mysterious (and at times maddening) viewing; but the imagery, oh, the imagery. Languid and melancholy, romantic and doom-laden, the dreamy atmospheres Rollin crafted were truly like nothing else in cinema: “…hermetically sealed worlds of desolate chateaus, solitary vampires and violent seduction”.

According to Rollin’s son Serge, who spoke with Fangoria shortly after his father’s death, “Jean was surrounded by his friends, and was looking at the photos of his two granddaughters when he died.”

Jean Rollin (via)

Rollin was calmly uncompromising and self-assured to the very end. The filmmaker’s own words about his work and perceptions of criticism are as fitting a closing statement as any:

“Honestly, I don’t care [what people call me]. Some people say I’m a genius, others consider me the greatest moron who ever stepped behind a camera. I have heard so many things said about me and my films, but these are just opinions.

I am perfectly happy with what I do, because it has always been my choice.”