photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
there is a moment early in the ANDROID IN LA LA LAND (PERFECTMOTION, 2016) documentary when you learn that GARY NUMAN's wife GEMMA was a member of his fan club back in the day and had a collection of early photographs of early gigs to prove such. the SINKING FEELING i had watching such about the obvious potential pitfalls of marrying a fan were IMMEDIATE and UNFORGIVING. turns out this was completely wrong as his wife is arguably the bedrock of SUPPORT and SECURITY that has helped assist him through PERSONAL and PROFESSIONAL PROBLEMS for decades. if anything, this film seems to be a testament to her DEEP and UNWAVERING DEDICATION and LOVE and the FAMILY they built and fought for together. it really is quite the HEARTWARMING film.
the documentary finds VETERAN SYNTH POP ICON GARY NUMAN at a PROFESSIONAL CROSSRAODS, moving his FAMILY to LOS ANGELES from ENGLAND in the hopes of revitalizing his CAREER and potentially getting involved in a new phase of such working on films scores (a la his friend and mentee TRENT REZNOR). it has been decades since he was a relevant force on the charts, which is not to diminish his CHERISHED roles as a CULT FIGURE and ELECTRONIC MUSIC ELDER STATESMAN. coinciding with his almost decade-long hiatus from releasing any recorded music was a similar years-long bout with DEPRESSION, ANXIETY and CHRONIC PANIC ATTACKS. as the father of three young girls and a dedicated husband, part of his MOTIVATION for pushing himself again in the studio was centered around the longterm well-being of his FAMILY. the resulting album SPLINTER () positions him as a relevant CULTURAL FORCE again and undoubtedly has given him more opportunity for connections in the ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY.
thats all well and good, but for me the INTERESTING part of this documentary was the relationship of NUMAN with his FAMILY, including his PARENTS. apparently his parents looked after his early CAREER in a management role. his father although seemingly DISINTERESTED in his music or lyrics, was compelled to protect his son and look after his financial interests. it was NUMAN's own inability to cut costs at the behest of his father that his CAREER imploded, leading not just to PROFESSIONAL CONSEQUENCES, but a rift in the FAMILY as well. even decades later this situation still pains NUMAN and it is GEMMA that navigates and mends that tense standoff. you get the sense that in his WIFE NUMAN has found a TRUE PARTNER that has the needs of their FAMILY at the very forefront her priorities. it is pretty INCREDIBLE. my heart broke when she reveals her bought with POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION after a long list of efforts at CREATING a FAMILY together. again, you see how much she has DEDICATED and SUFFERED for in building and NURTURING her FAMILY. that being the case you can see why NUMAN was so dedicated in turning out his best work in decades. the narrative of this film is not that FAMILY is something that drags him down and depends on his COMMERCIAL SUCCESS, rather inversely success provides him with the means to better secure a FAMILY he seemingly absolutely adores and never expected as a SHY, QUIET and UNASSUMING child with ASPERGER'S SYNDROME who became the most UNLIKELY of GLOBAL POP STARS.
i was very much touched by ANDROID IN LA LA LAND. it is most definitely worth checking out.
photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
half a decade ago NOISEY had an INCREDIBLE series of interview videos moderated by THE QUIETUS founding editor JOHN DORAN (who also writes for THE GUARDIAN, THEWIRE , VICE and METAL HAMMER and creates programming for the BBC) called THE BRITISH MASTERS that got at the heart of what made a certain cadre of LEGENDARY ENGLISH musicians and songwriters of varying genres so IMPACTFUL and EFFECTIVE. included in the mix were participants like TRICKY (MASSIVE ATTACK), JOHNNY MARR (THE SMITHS), COSEY FANNI TUTTI (THROBBING GRISTLE), JOHN LYDON (SEX PISTOLS, PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED), MARK E SMITH (THE FALL), ROOTS MANUVA, PAUL SIMONON (THE CLASH), BRYAN FERRY (ROXY MUSIC), DAMON ALBARN (BLUR, GORILLAZ), NEIL TENNANT (PET SHOP BOYS), VIV ALBERTINE (THE SLITS), GARY NUMAN (TUBEWAY ARMY), LIAM GALLAGHER (OASIS), GOLDIE and BRETT ANDERSON (SUEDE) among others.
my sense is that there is a certain mix of PAROCHIALISM at play in BRITAIN whereby it is SMALL and DISCONNECTED enough from nearby EUROPE to cultivate an INDEPENDENT arts scene without much outside influence. conversely and completely counterintuitively ENGLAND's recent past as a colonial power allows it to have a DIVERSE cultural population that manifests in organically UNIQUE cultural products that reflect such. just a look at the guests chosen for this series one is confronted with a myriad of sub-genres including PUNK ROCK, HIP HOP, INDUSTRIAL MUSIC, SYNTH POP, POST PUNK, BRITPOP, DRUM & BASS and TRIP HOP. each represents a specific community, lifestyle with an attendant set of values that renders all of them uniquely BRITISH.
the cultural references utilized are now a bit dated, but THE BRITISH MASTERS still very much holds up and is well worth investigation. definitely worth checking out.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
getting into instrumental rock music can be difficult. too often it gets ahead of itself and becomes a self-indulgent wankfest by "muso" musicians so clever they've ended up regressing. there is something about rock music that demands immediacy yet spontaneity, unlike say a JOE SATRIANI or an EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER record, no disrespect intended. to me listening to a RAMONES record is more in the spirit of ROCK N ROLL than say DREAM THEATER since the later are inherently more concerned with their off-time paradiddles a obscure scales than the experience of the listener. only my opinion.
experimental rock band BATTLES is one of those groups that can pull it off since their highly inventive and kinetic, propulsive rhythms demand the attention of the listener in the tradition of BEBOP JAZZ, 70s PROG ROCK and AFROBEAT.
its hard to explain how good these guys are since they all have chops, but the music is composed and constructed in a way that things build and overlap and crescendo, with interesting sonic textures and non-traditional instrumentation being utilized to enable a cogent musical idea. its remarkable. and i highly encourage anyone to seek out the instrumental music of BATTLES. definitely worth your time to explore.