It is dark outside, cold, but no snow as of yet, every now and then the popping distant sound of prenaternal fireworks, kids rehearsing for the big night or their fathers, for somehow the tradition of New Year's fireworks seems to be still lost in the gender stereotypes of yesteryear. And who cares, really? In the age of aggressively accumulating post-factuality it is no surprise that feminism somehow lost its way too, fighting online battles for every good-looking predominantly white well-to-do woman's right to be respected when showing cleavage on Facebook and Instagram, role models who were once Laurie Anderson, Patti Smith or Siouxsie Sioux somehow along the way turned into Miley Cyrus, Rihanna and Beyonce. Ever get the feeling you've been cheated? Spot on, Johnny. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem respecting women showing off cleavage - or men - or anything in between - however, I do believe there are other and far more serious gender-related issues worth fighting for and I for one don't believe beating around the bush helps an awful lot, and trust me, nothing is going to change as long as we don't tackle the real problems.
We lost a number of famed stars during 2016, some of them heroes of mine as well, and like so many others I have been saddened. What also saddens me a great deal is the fact that we don't get many new stars, do we? Some shooting stars, maybe, but those who last, those who prove to be guiding stars are very far between. Apart from being a musician I also work as a music journalist and each and every year I'm asked to do a list of the best albums of the year and each and every year I don't. Let's face it, the way the greedy and exceedingly conservative music industry works these days chances are the best albums of the year we don't get to hear, ever. They lead a modest quasi-existence online or on self-produced CDs and vinyls, reaching perhaps a few hundred ears, a little more through concert activity at best, while complete crap of the most stupid kind gets massive exposure on radio and television. People don't bother to seek out - or better yet, demand - an alternative, however, they do moan about America electing a reality leftover for president while searching Netflix for their next fix. What a joke. If anything I hope for a huge comeback tour of 2017 for good old honest arrogance.
Shoot off your rockets, drink your champagne, but I'm with Leonard on this one, count me out of your game. I wish you all an angry new year.
The sky is turning darker every day and autumn is slowly turning to winter. As per usual autumn was busy with many concerts, performing my Vangelis rendition for the Blade Runner Night at Odense Film Festival, then just a couple of days later Wave Fest in Copenhagen, sharing the bill with Wolfgang Fl�r of Kraftwerk-fame. We played Tribute Bowie, another well-attended night in Copenhagen, went far north to play the lovely Uma Obscura Festival in northern Sweden, then celebrating our ten years Klub Golem anniversary in Odense, together with Covenant, also finding time for Proces Festival in Copenhagen. We filmed some of these concerts so I have been editing bits and pieces; hopefully something will show up on YouTube in a not too distant future. Thanks once again to my faithful girl-punk-band, Miss Black & White aka L�rke L�mmel and Mie M�gunge.
2016 added insult to injury early November when Leonard Cohen - the man who sang Democracy - died just before America elected a reality TV personality as its next president. Baudrillard was right all this time, and Cohen too; 'Everybody knows the war is over, everybody knows the good guys lost.' Not one to believe the other side of the presidential entertainment show was the good Jedi, I - still - believe the dark side to be the quasireligious notion of western democracy as the closest thing to infallibility since the pope. Let's have a look at the shining beacon of western democracy, shall we? Trump lost the so-called popular vote, just as Bush did in 2000, meaning both received less, in fact considerably less, votes than their opponent. American democracy, however, counts states and this, of course, is where the already fading beacon's shine seems to go out completely because states are either won or lost, we're talking a so-called winner-takes-it-all system. The stuff Abba hits were made of also makes the American president and what this means, other than the chance of the candidate with less actual votes actually winning in the end, is that literally millions of American votes don't count. If you voted republican in a state the democrats won your vote means nothing and vice versa. And it gets worse because certain states historically support one side more than the other which means de facto lots and lots of Americans are pretty damn close to not having a vote. If you're a republican living in New York or if you're a democrat living in Alabama, well, tough luck, your vote is very likely to almost never count. The loser standing small, indeed. And this, my fine sirs and ladies, and everything in between, is the nation that wages wars on other countries in the name of democracy. Perhaps even the hardest of skeptics should consider other factors such as, say, oil.
Should we really be surprised at what is happening in America? Baudrillard would say no, but he's presently rocking out with Bowie, Prince and Cohen so he has better things to do, however, I'm with Baudrillard on this one. No, we shouldn't be too surprised, after all, we have seen populist parties on the rise the past ten to fifteen years, and before we go all European arrogant on the Americans let's not forget we've seen the same tendencies of nationalistic yearnings, fuelled by intolerance and ignorance, on our own shores as well. For years and years the media have force-fed us reality shows, talent shows, endless repetitions of an increasingly smaller selection of pop songs of often rather dubious quality; is it really a surprise people go for the guy they know from the TV show? If you live on fries and Coke, courtesy of McDonald's, and pretty much nothing else, your body is going to react in the end, and it won't be screaming of joy but it will be screaming. Why then do we so consistently believe that our minds won't suffer from massive media pollution?
Ignorance really is the problem and I have always believed the very core of democracy to be based on a premise which is at best strikingly naive: the notion that the majority will be smart enough to choose right, or at least not terribly wrong. Hitler, anyone? Just for a moment consider the what if. What if, in fact, the majority is wrong? In this case we're talking a country with the largest collection of nuclear weapons on the planet, a nation responsible for a fair bit, or to be more precise, a rather unfair lot, of the world's pollution. And let's not even get started on massive internet surveillance. Now, hold your horses; I'm not trying to say what is right and wrong, all I'm asking is: what if? What I'm saying is I believe we have come to a point where the intelligent, nay, wise thing to do is start asking those unpleasant questions about democracy; does it actually deliver what it promises? Is it too naive a system? Does it favour certain groups of people and interests more than others? Does it really work?
I bid you a happy winter.
The weather is humid, the sky alternating between the clear blue of Commodore 64 youth and the tired grey of DDR, sun replaced by rain every other hour. Ah yes, it is summertime in Denmark, indeed.
So far 2016 has been a number of concerts and a lot of prominent deaths, the two of which will meet later this year, September 17, with the concert evening Tribute Bowie for which I have been busy preparing renditions of Space Oddity and Ashes To Ashes, The Rise And Fall Of Major Tom, if you will. One of the - many - things that made Bowie so very special was his ability to turn rather odd and often also relatively complex chord progressions into evergreens, his melodies at the same time both peculiar and instantly addictive. It has been a pleasure albeit also at times a bit of a challenge to delve into this classic material and there is no doubt in my mind that what happened early this year is one of the greatest musical losses of my lifetime.
Speaking of heroes - early September I will be performing at Wave Fest II in Copenhagen alongside Wolfgang Fl�r of Kraftwerk fame, with my relatively new live team consisting of Miss Black and White. Kraftwerk of course are part of my musical DNA and I have countless teenage memories of waiting for MTV to play Das Modell, of enjoying Triad demos on the 64 looping the vocoder bit from Die Roboter, of listening to Autobahn and Trans Europa Express on my walkman during long family holiday car rides through Europe only to try and work out the lead melodies on my first keyboard once back home. I hope to see many of you people there, September 3.
Copyright: Ras Bolding 2016