Thursday, July 19, 2007

another failed idiom

Bruce: So, them Internets are abuzz about the impending debut release by Blaqk Audio. Why, might you ask, are media juggernauts like MTV bothering to give virtual ink to what amounts to Just Another Futurepop Album? Because Blaqk Audio is made up of two jabronis from AFI. But before we get into what all this means, let's address the material at hand, thus far consisting of two tracks on the band's MySpace.

Like many tepid electronic projects, Blaqk Audio are trying to claim diverse points of comparison in an attempt to con the listener into mistakenly hearing non-existent depth in their tracks: in this case they've opted for Echo & The Bunnymen as the talking point. Clearly this isn't the case, and anyone who's been paying attention to Futurepop and other club-friendly EBM recently won't hear anything here that hasn't been beaten to death over the past five years. More specifically, the two songs are wildly unbalanced, with elements dropping in and out of the mix seemingly at random, and not in a good way. Basslines vanish without a trace, choruses come and go indistinguishable from the rest of the stale offering. There's no semblance of an ordering principle behind any of this, either. Y'know how buffet restaurants always seemed great in theory when you were younger? Pizza, lasagna and chinese food all at once? But invariably you were disappointed: each of the elements were a pale imitation of what they tasted like at real restaurants, and the combination of all of the hollow simulacra on your plate at the same time just seemed like a cruel joke. So yeah: Blakq Audio are the musical equivalent of Buffet World.

As someone who doesn't really have too much time for straightforward, emotive Futurepop these days, I'm not sure that I'm the best person to be taking a sledgehammer to Blakq Audio's output thus far, but I will say this: even when it's devoid of inspiration or novelty, Futurepop is a craft-based medium. A couple of months ago I was enduring a recent A Different Drum comp, and after a brief period of listening it became readily apparent within a few seconds per song which groups did and didn't have a talent for turning out solid product of this type, whatever you think of it. Assemblage 23 and Seabound have it, Blakq Audio clearly don't. Don't be fooled, this is amateur-hour type stuff. Blakq Audio are jumping on the Futurepop bandwagon years too late with precious little to offer the party but stale Cheetos.

Alex: Would you even call this futurepop really? I mean, as problematic is that term is, I'd say it has more in common with some more recent synthpop offerings, like say Depeche Mode's 'Playing the Angel' than with anything VNV or Apop has done. Of course it should be noted that we're basing all of this on two songs, god knows what the album as a whole will sound like.

Bruce: Fair point (although I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with calling "Playing The Angel" synthpop). I'm wondering if this is yet another recent case in which contact between mainstream rock and the long-suffering standard-bearers of "this thing of ours" results in...something else. I think this paid off in spades for Apop when Mesh redid "Mourn" after years of Groth's sad attempts to rebrand himself as a super-sexy bona-fide Rock Star, whereas the notion of VNV playing for tens of thousands of Radiohead fans this summer is far too little, far too late.

As for the specifics of Futurepop and whether Blakq Audio fits the bill or not, you might be right. That said, I don't need to use the F-word to trash this stuff: it's still painfully derivative and awkward.

Alex: More than anything else, I'm curious to see how this will effect the goth-industrial club scene as a whole. My first thought is that this has the potential to bring a lot of attention and exposure to the music that's been motoring along selling nothing at all. Those of you old enough to remember the early nineties will recall when Green Day's "Dookie" broke big, and suddenly So-Cal Punk was a going concern after years of fermenting in the underground. See also No Doubt's "Tragic Kingdom" for the abortive Ska revival and Robert Miles' crossover megahit "Dreams" bringing Trance into the mainstream. With that said, those scenarios usually didn't do much to break other bands or artists in any real way, moreso they just introduced a wide variety of people to music they were otherwise unaware of and a small portion of the people who bought the records became aficionados of the genre. Other possibility is that this goes off like that She Wants Revenge record on a grander scale, wherein it brings no new fans to the genre, but gets mad spins in the club and has people requesting five songs off the album every god damn night.

Incidentally, apparently the one dude who isn't the guy who looks like a bitch claimed in an interview with some guitar magazine that AFI's single "Love Like Winter" was originally written for this project. That song is better than either of the tracks on the Blaqk Audio myspace, I'd be happy to play something along those lines if the full-length album has anything comparable.

No comments: