TomorrowmillandWere the 1980's really that bad (see 8/19/10 below)? There's good music to be found in any decade, if you know where to listen. There are always forward-thinking musicians creating visionary sounds. Predictions of the future that were made in the past can be amusing when they're inaccurate (like the Jetsons, jetpacks, or Disney's Tomorrowland), but they're startling when they come true. Prognosticators, weathermen, and fortune tellers never have to admit they're wrong: they can always blame the future for failing to live up to their predictions.
The early 1980's, in particular, were actually a great time for music. After the first wave of punk dismantled rock convention, post-punk addressed the burning question, "What next?" One dedicated student of post-punk created a ten disc collection of mixes from 1981 to point out the magnitude of musical invention in that year alone. In his book Independence Days, Alex Ogg describes "a cadre of groups who wanted to phase-jump to a new universe of sonic possibility." Ogg argues for "shifting the common perception of 'year zero' to 1978 or 1979 and the dawn of post-punk rather than the established reading of 1976."
Last month, I saw the band Raymilland on the closing night of the Athens Popfest. Unlike our poor boy who believed in chance, the men of Raymilland fully grasped the intricacies of the modern dance. They absorbed the lessons of Father Ubu and took off for parts unknown, leaving a cosmic trail of datapanik in their wake. Raymilland was one of the openers for Mission of Burma. Having finally seen MoB, I realize that the horrible truth about Burma is their greatness. Have we failed to live up to the future that they predicted for us?
Buy the Raymilland compilation here.
Listen to Mission of Burma's set from Popfest here.
Buy the Moving Parts Wrong Conclusion here.
The Moving Parts: Max Ernst (1978)