It is the last night of the year, past midnight and rather cold in my studio as I type these words, the blue light adding to the chilly atmosphere. Outside there is the occasional sound of fireworks going off but mostly it's a dark and silent night. Looking back on 2022 as a European it is difficult not to think of the war in Ukraine; post World War II and Balkan in the nineties we have grown used to mostly not having wars in these parts of the world so the whole thing felt highly surreal as suddenly there was a full-scale invasion, along with Cold War rhetorics, East vs. West, nuclear threats. It felt even more surreal as the day after the invasion I was meeting with my musicians for an introduction day to a roleplay campaign set in an alternative Denmark, 1985. I had found and prepared various bits from television about the Cold War crisis of the eighties, new wave songs reflecting fears of all-out nuclear annihilation and suddenly we were talking about these things as something not just of the past. Cold War nostalgia getting a bit too close. And of course what followed were lots and lots of people getting killed, on both sides, as is always the case when war breaks out. I spent a night listening to Nena's 99 Luftballons, Sting's Russians, OMD's Enola Gay and so on and thought about the children in my family, the kids I know, wondering if they too would have to grow up with these same fears, which made me feel very sad. At least they might get a few good pop songs.
Life, as they say, goes on, for we the living anyway, and I was very thankful for being able to do concerts and club nights more or less full scale again after the Corona pandemic, doing something which always made some sense to me. I really must say a very warm and very humble thank you to everybody who showed up for our concerts, for our Klub Golem nights. Also to those of you catching live videos online, showing some interest. Most of us musicians, DJs, organisers, club heads, event-makers were feeling genuinely nervous coming out of the Corona period, not sure if there would still be an audience, a scene. Not every scene, venue or artist made it through the pandemic so do believe me when I express my feeling of gratitude. I also feel grateful for having been given the opportunity to work with a new visual element as part of a handful of our concerts this year, incorporating screens with tailor-made hologram graphics controlled live on stage in real-time to the music, pioneer work of sorts within these technologies, something I hope to expand on in the future if all goes relatively well. So, of course, a thank you also to the Golem team and to my musicians Olivia Obskur on extra vocals and synthesizer, Emmelie Eddike on synthesizer and Max Kaos, the live hologram VJ and programmer. And before I start thanking relatives, family values, unborn children and God in high heavens, I better call a wrap on this.
So, wear your fancy outfits and your festive hats, eat good food with friends and family or all alone with memories and hopes, and by all means, do shoot off your rockets - and let's hope in 2023 we'll use them mostly for New Year's Eve.
The year draws to its end and while 2022 proved to be a good year for myself musically, being able to do concerts more regularly again after the Corona pandemic and being welcomed back by audiences at clubs, festivals, and more, 2022 also meant a last farewell to a string of artists who left this side of reality during the year, some of whom I've been listening to since childhood. Klaus Schulze, Vangelis, Andy Fletcher, Manuel Göttsching, Angelo Badalamenti, Rock Nalle - one of the original voices of Danish rock 'n' roll and hailing from my hometown of Odense. And I could have mentioned more. Of course, musicians die, even immortal rock stars, and after 2016 which famously took David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Alan Vega, Pete Burns, Keith Emerson, George Martin, and George Michael, we should perhaps get used to it. Fortunately, we don't.
In 1998, I was among those who did not snicker when preteen girls around the world cried their eyes out over Ginger Spice leaving the Spice Girls. Even if I never was an avid Spice Girls fan myself, I understood why those girls were weeping - friendships don't last forever, after all. There is something at play within the rotten world of rock and pop music to do with identity, and I believe this to be very much the case because most of us are introduced to rock and pop music during our formative years when we are about to leave childhood behind. Just as The Neverland is lost in the mist, rock stars are ready to take you by the hand, like so many Peter Pans, dressed mostly just as eccentric. Rock stars are demigods of popular culture; they are the elves, trolls, and fairies of our time, shining bright like will-o'-wisps to lead you, at best, off the safe path prepared for you by society and tradition. This, I believe, also explains why the pop music you happened to grow up with when you were that right tender age was always the best era in music. And this, perhaps, is the real and most authentic power of pop and rock music: the ability to make a difference with a single of barely four minutes of music, three or four chords, most of them repeated in sequences known to musicians for years and years, hitting you right at that very point in your life when you are most vulnerable, searching for some sort of footing in life, that road to nowhere, trying to get the balance right, carving out an identity for yourself.
Years later, even though it all went wrong, when that special someone left you and you didn't handle it so well, you realize what The Police and Human League were singing about all those years ago, when you lose friends or family to insanity and despite everything you did, you still weren't able to break through and make that change, you sit down with The Wall and cry again. When you are all alone and hurt, left in the ruins of that empire of dirt, there is Nine Inch Nails for you once more, and as you grow older and darkness has turned to grey, you wonder how the young Cyndi Lauper could be so right Time After Time. This is why it still gets to us when our musical heroes die, and if I brought a tear to your eye, I'm sure it will be lost, like all those moments, in the next rain.
Copyright: Ras Bolding 2022