As is tradition I seek refuge on the last night of the year among my instruments and machines to type a few words in solitude, turning my back ever so willingly on the sudden craze of nominating the best and the worst of the year which grabs the spirit of humankind when the passing of yet another year seems to perhaps, with a bit of luck, remind them of their own eventual passing, inspiring, it would seem, the convulsion of ranking that which was best and brightest and soon to be forgotten, just like whatever nominations and accolades and, for that matter everything else. Thus is the nature of time and give it some thought, perchance, if you dare, if but for a moment - is it really that awful to be forgotten? Yes, we are vain creatures but death might cure this along with whatever illnesses and habits you battle - in vain - throughout life and so I ask: is that not a comforting thought?
For me this was another year of concerts, performing here and there, clubs and festivals and more, and as always I feel grateful to the people who offer their time and patience to perform with me and to those who turn up for the concerts. Yes, we are vain creatures, indeed, so I thank you. We all need our little obsessions to keep the circus going, something to believe in at least enough to invest our time. Danish authour Gustav Wied, a humourist who took his own life, and those are the humourists to trust, has one of his characters, Knagsted, pursue a quaint literary hobby of collecting commas because, as he explains: we all need a little something to make it through life. Why bother to discuss which book was the best of the year, the decade or a lifetime, as long as you get many good commas, right?
As some of you will know the year ended with a bit of tension regarding Klub Golem, the alternative music club which I have been running along with friends and foes some thirteen plus years now, as the venue we use was hit by severe cutbacks during autumn and winter. I will spare you rants on local politics; suffice to say some people we have been working closely together with for years lost their jobs while we survived. What doesn't kill you, as they say. The future may seem uncertain, as indeed the future must, but we are still here. For how long? That is up to you people, really, and your support. If you keep showing up we can try and carry on and I for one can only humbly ask for your ongoing support and, just as humbly, thank you. And with that I bid you a happy new year.
For the third year in a row we did a concert series for the 2019 edition of the Hans Christian Andersen Festivals here in Odense, again presenting my HCA Suite live, four pieces based on four of Andersen's darker tales - The Snow Queen, The Shadow, The Story Of A Mother, The Little Mermaid - this time opting for home ground at Kulturmaskinen, the very venue we use for Klub Golem. Making use of fake cloth walls we transformed the room to look like a gothic manor, added candelabras, old toys, steampunk costumes plus neon tubes, lights and laser beams for extra effect. The team this year consisted of L�rke L�mmel on synth and bass, Mie M�gunge on extra vocals, synth and guitar, Marie Makaber on extra vocals, synth and occasional ballet dancing and myself on vocals, synths and of course the trusty Commodore 64. Sound and lights were handled by seasoned Golem sound technician Claus Christiansen who of course knows my sound quite well by now.
All of the concerts attracted a full house, so I am of course both happy and grateful as a lot of work went into this. We filmed and recorded the shows so hopefully at some point I will be able to do a concert video of one of the pieces and put it on YouTube for you all, provided the recordings are good enough. As mentioned above we used old toys, borrowed from a private collection, as part of the stage decoration and interestingly enough it appeared some of it may be haunted. Now, I am not sure if I believe in such things, yet at the same time I do not want to categorically reject such notions, and I for one feel kind of pleased with the thought that we may have had an audience of both living and dead - it's all about being inclusive. This all sparked an idea with me, and now I would really, really like to stage a concert with the HCA Suite in a haunted manor, castle or such - for ghosts. Just ghosts - it's all about being exclusive. Now, I know ghosts don't necessarily pay that well but if you happen to own or know of a haunted manor or castle, by all means do get in touch with me.
The music video for my song Load Error has passed 100.000 views on YouTube, which seems a nice excuse for telling a few tall tales about the making of said video. Kind of like those rock documentaries they used to do on TV back when people were still watching TV and aging rock stars would drool about whatever little and excessively boring details went into the production of this song or the filming of that video. That kind of thing. You have been duly warned.
Load Error is a song about digital childhood memories, about early gamer, hacker and cracker culture on the Commodore 64, the first few steps into cyberspace, filesharing (which back in those days was all floppy disk business) and, of course, first and foremost a chance to namedrop 8-bit composers and heroes such as Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway, Ben Daglish, Jeroen Tel and Jeff Minter in (some kind of) pop song. In other words, unless you're a complete and utter nerd, you have absolutely no idea what the lyrics are all about. One line goes 'Pac Man is a transvestite' and I have been asked a number of times after concerts why on Earth I'm singing that. There is an explanation. Back in the day when Pac Man was young and a star on millions of screens, the little yellow fellow was so popular indeed the concept spawned a lot of spinoff games most of which were essentially just the same thing all over with slightly different colours. One of those games was Ms. Pac Man, which featured a pink labyrinth and the little yellow protagonist with a red bowtie - Ms. Pac Man? I think not. Pac Man is a transvestite.
The idea for the video was basically the location that is the sub-basements of Odense University, loads and loads of underground labyrinthine corridors which I thought was a bit like playing Pac Man if only you could bring some blue light down there. I also thought it could be fun to do a video which was essentially a B-sci-fi movie version of Pac Man, given the nature of the song and its lyrics - and the B-movie angle seemed realistic with the kind of budget I would be working on which would be something like a little worse than nothing at all. I borrowed camera and light equipment from a friendly university teacher who shall remain unnamed since theoretically we never borrowed anything but just happened to 'find' said equipment left on a very specific location by said friendly university teacher. Also, the doors to the sub-basements were always locked, however, there was, at the time, a certain grate behind a certain concrete building, which you could lift and that would get you down to the sub-basements. So this is what I'd done a few days before so that I could place a little piece of paper in one of the actual doors leading down to the sub-basements preventing it from locking when slammed, enabling us a way down even with the equipment.
I would play Pac Man, and the role of the four ghosts were given to Christoffer Bagge, David Faurskov, Tonje Terese, and Rune Colin, all musicians who had performed with me in concert. I'd dyed my hair yellow and wore all yellow, eating pills all the time while getting chased around by these four underground agents wearing shirts the colors of Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde, the ghosts out of Pac Man. To seem more dangerous and to underline the B-movie look, each ghost was wielding a rather random weapon; a gun, a rapier, an axe, and a chainsaw, and basically the idea was that whoever would end up watching this would be really confused the first minute or two and then suddenly realize: oh, this nonsense is Pac Man!
We filmed the video in late autumn, and it was very cold indeed in the sub-basements - I was not a popular guy that night. Admittedly I might have been a bit of a pain, insisting on having the chainsaw switched on as the four ghosts would finally gang up on me in a totally dark room lit mostly by aggressively flashing strobe and a bit of blue light. We all had to stand quite close to fit in the camera frame, chainsaw on full blast and all. For the fight scene when I eat the power pill and have a go at the ghosts, I'd deliberately not choreographed the fighting beforehand as I wanted it to look authentic B-movie; basically, I'd just watched a few classic Bruce Lee scenes and thought, yeah, something like that. The first take we did when I fight David, my kick actually hit his arm wielding the chainsaw causing it to drop down rapidly, the blade just a few inches from my shin. That's how we learned to shoot from a slightly different angle so that I could aim my kick not to actually hit him but given the angle and him stumbling back it would look like it. You live and you learn. Unless you get chainsawed first.
For some reason, the corridors were home to a number of little frogs, some dead, some not. At first, we actually carried them outside when we found them, all animal-friendly, but then there were more of them, and more still. I thought it was kind of mean to keep evicting them, little squatter frogs as they were, so we ended up leaving them where we found them, peacefully coexisting in the dark, cold corridors. I'm kind of hoping they grew stronger down there, establishing an empire all their own - and that, my friends, is how Dungeons & Dragons was born. But that's another story.
Copyright: Ras Bolding 2019