Electric Dreams: On The Crest Of A Synthwave

Radder Than Rad Retrotastic Raves!

Dr. Egon Spengler: “Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.”  

Dr. Raymond Stantz: “Total protonic reversal.” 

Dr. Peter Venkman: “Right. That’s bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.” 

“Rubbish!” shout the disgruntled 21st century masses, unanimously disenchanted with what is laughably termed the “music” industry, woefully bereft of originality, personality or talent…

But!

As just one of those restless peeps, you can count on Brad to sift through the monotony and find sounds that reinvigorate the soul. 

Synthwave – otherwise known as Retrowave, Futuresynth, etc. – a genre of electronic music influenced by ’80s film soundtracks, drawing heavily from such esteemed names as Froese, Carpenter, Moroder, et al does it for me.

Take this first eargasm for instance; who does it remind you of?

About half a dozen ’80s synthtastic sounds come to mind – and you know that’s no bad thing!:

“Death is a primitive concept. I prefer to think of them as battling evil in another dimension” – Grig.

Elliott: “He’s a man from outer space and we’re taking him to his spaceship.”

Greg: “Well, can’t he just beam up?

Elliott: “This is reality, Greg.”

Already, there is a snazzy nostalgic feel to this Post – hope it lasts…

It’s amazing – not to mention really gratifying – to learn that so many artists have been profoundly inspired by the ’80s.

You know that feeling when you’re writing, listening to music to spur on that creative process and then – all of a sudden – something so awesome comes on that grabs your attention, making you just stop everything and go back to search who/what is responsible for producing such a pleasant interruption? 

This is that track!: 

‘”More human than human” is our motto’ – Dr. Eldon Tyrell.

Here he is: the (reasonably cool) writer, drafting Reviews and concocting wild and wonderful scenarios in the name of science fiction. 

And yet all you end up with is the music he’s been listening to!

Oh well…

This next groovy number pulsates with such 80s flair – sounds like it has been lifted from one of those ultrahip TV shows one would settle down to on a Saturday evening back in the day. Instead, it comes with clips from a hilariously duff 80s movie. Not sure: looks like it could be American Ninja? Or American Ninja 2? Or American Ninja 3? Or who the blazes is taking notes @ this time of night anyway?! 

As you will hear from the opening scene of this vid, my propensity for causing trouble is LEGENDARY:

“Now use head for something other than target” – Mr. Miyagi. 

In order to acquire new synthwave grooves, a number of Best of Retrowave compilations – gleefully referred to as 80s Revival Mixtapes! –have positively soared through my headphones these past few weeks.

Fortunately, the variety and ingenuity of these artists, all vying to (re)capture those special 80s vibes have mostly impressed. 

The opening track of one such compilation ensured its place here on this Post.

Lo! This is the stellar song that Brad does his aerobics to at the crack o’ dawn!

Ya gotta burn it ta earn it, lov…

“On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy” – Kevin Flynn. 

Having fun? 

That’s what matters in this sector of the blogosphere.

One of the more prominent Retrowave artists to leap promisingly into my Daily Playlist is Timecop1983. 

Nice tag – one of my all-time fave years as well!

On the most recent album: Journeys, the opening track just happens to be Dreams. You know you’re onto a Winner when you can’t get further than the opening track!

This is gorgeous: 

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it” – Ferris Bueller.

Modern pop culture should not have to be so turgid!

In order to find a “way forward,” we must settle for a distinctly “retro” solution. That’ll do for the moment! 

Hope you’ve enjoyed listening (dancing?!) to these Electric Dreams as much as my time was joyously spent compiling this Post. There will certainly be plenty more forays into Retro/Synthwave playlists this Summer as my writing sessions – that novel and a few short stories! –intensify. And you can trust me to share the best tracks with you!  

More than anything, these retrotastic grooves offer a warm and cosy reassurance that truly talented souls ARE out there. 

And producing lots of good stuff!

Build neon portals, NOT walls, etc. etc. 

And you know what they say: the sequel promises to be even better… 😉

Hey! Here’s one for the road: 

Keep your eyes on the WHEELS!

“Well always be together
However far it seems
(Love never ends)
Well always be together
Together in Electric Dreams” – Phil Oakey.

Mind Your Head

 

The Good, The Brad And The Spoiler

Brad Day @ Black Rock – How To Deal With The One Who Gave It All Away…

continued from: The White Lion And The Dessert Rats

“Every gun makes its own tune” – Blondie.

Spoiler, ALERT!” cried Touche Turtleneck as the security breach signal rang out.

Damnation and blast!” raged Major Spoiler“He’s here!”

The disgraced Galactic Defence Militia officer stared intensely out of his office window on the 14th floor of Black Rock Block. Here, in one of the more seedy districts of Duggan’s Run Spaceport on Beta Lugosi, torrential rain lashed down relentlessly.

Touche and his gang of hoodlums – who had been hanging around in the office most of the day, just for this moment – drew their blasters and rushed to the door.

JarJar Kushner, the Major’s twisted right-hand man, sitting languidly at the desk, his heavy, ultrawornout boots perched impudently on the blotter, snapped at them:

“Watch it, idiots! This is no ordinary cake-scoffin’ bum we’re dealing with here! He’s good… even by my standards… And for pity’s sake, watch yer backs, he could be anywhere!”

They nodded and piled out, marching off down the hallway.

The two remaining villains listened to the monotonous clatter outside until Spoiler spluttered:

“Do you think he will catch me…?”

“Oh yes, most definitely…”

“How can you be so sure?”

“I am… ‘cos I already ‘ave…”

“Wha-?!”

With one deft flick, the henchman tugged off his black ponytail to reveal a beautifulbut rapidly thinning – mess of blond hair; a device behind one ear was deactivated, and a holographic mask removed to reveal far more agreeable cheekbones. 

“Stone the bloody crows…! YOU!” the Major barked.

Yeah, me…” the Commander growled. “Told ya ‘e could be… ANY… where…”

“You smell like a pig already. Let’s try not to make things any worse” – Corporal Wallace.

“Spoiler… sheesh, you gave away too many Militia plans to the Empire, and now ya- ‘EY! Move away from that cabinet, Major… Disaster… Ah ah! ‘Ands where I can see ’em, fella…

Brad sprang to his feet and glared at the disgraced officer.

“Patheticlong ago, you had potential… Now, Brad, you’re nothingJust a dumbass with a blaster…”

“Quite a dumbass thin’ ta spout, seein’ as the blaster is trained right on ya…”

“Doesn’t matter. C’mon, Fartlighter, you’re kidding nobody – you’re too much of a wholesome hero to just blast me away… like that. No, it doesn’t matter what prison barge you send me to, I can enjoy the last laugh, watching… what unfolds… What does it feel like to be the Most Wanted Man In The Galaxy?”

“Fine an’ dandy, baby. Comes with the territory… o’ bein’ a galactic ‘ero. ‘Ad ta split Bitumen ‘cos the belly dancers couldn’t queue up in an orderly manner…” 

“No. Not that. Do you realise that the Empire has slapped a bounty on your “really ridiculously good looking” head? They were offering 20,000 creds-“

“Why, that’s despicable! A measly 20,000 creds?! Me pecs alone are worth a lot more than that-“

“Shut it. I said they were. Obviously, you’ve been too busy “saving the galaxy” to check your Notifications – they’ve shanked the bounty up to 50,000 creds-“

“Goody gumdrops! Sounds abaht right…”

Brad wiped the smirk off his face; his abrupt ashen-face seemed to take the officer aback.

“How much did it cost ya?” the Commander snarled, “…To direct those Zandokan cruisers ta intercept us?!”

“Oh, that was… free of charge! It was a futile move, anyway! You’re the “good guys”despite impossible odds, you always, insufferably, inconceivably, get through unharmed-“

“MITCH DIDN’T! He wuz wounded during the surprise attack. Me Company managed ta get ‘im to a med-unit on Epsilon, but he-”

“Hmm? I don’t recall- Which one is Mitch?” the Major frowned.

“Mitch Quintana, our newest… and youngest member-“

“Ha, yet another cocky young whelp, no doubt! Never heard of him – how young?”  

“Jeez! As sensitive as an earthquake, ain’tcha, fella?! Damn you… he was only 19-“

“Ah…! Same age as you when I took you under my wing twenty years ago-“

“No… NO! Don’t go there…” 

“…And made you into the leading man you are today. No worries! The boy will pull through – it’s in the script, right?! He will, most likely, turn out to be just as annoying and indestructible as you – ha!”

“Nah… we just got back in time… to watch ‘im pass away…”

“Aww! Where did he die…?”

The Commander held up his arms, and croaked dejectedly:

“In these…”

“Hey, amigo! You know you got a face beautiful enough to be worth $2000?” – Mexican Bounty Hunter.  

“Heh, are you the golden-haired angel sent to watch over me?” Major Spoiler remarked in disbelief.

“Nah… no such luck. There ain’t no songs o’ praise reserved fer… moofmilkuz like you…”

“Ha, cute… What did u do with Kushner?”

“‘Oo…? Oh, that useless scrote. Flung ‘im in the basement, din’I? Funnily enough, I don’t think ‘e belongs anywhere else. Blimey, ‘e’s a waste o’ space even dahn there…”

“Uff, hilarious… You know, in a strange way, I’m actually proud of the way you assembled that pathetic bunch of losers…”

“Me Company, ya mean…? Twen’y years ago, ya used to be a good mansomeone ta look oop ta – jeez, what the blazes ‘appened?!”

“I got wise! Listen to me for once, Brad! You, your Company; the Militia; Rajendra’s Free Fighters – you’re ALL finished. The last remaining Federation Planets WILL fall to Zan Doka and the Empire will prevail – the one true light in a moribund galaxy! Let me take you to the Emperor; he will grant you anything, and you can savour the fruits of the Zandokan Empire, as well as I! At last, your miserable existence will have a sense of purpose…! Just think of the immeasurable power we shall wield… Come with me. It is the only way!”

“Uff, spare me… I’ve just about ‘ad enough of yer insuff’rable monologin’…”

Spoiler spat sarcastically: “Aww, I hate to see you suffer… so much, Commander!”

“Fine,” Brad snapped back, levelling his blaster between the startled officer’s eyes. “Then lemme put ya outta yer misery…”

“No, wait! It’s-!”

“Waitin’s over. Adios, pret’y boy…”

.

When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk” – Tuco.  

KERR-RAAAAASH!!

The shards of the shattered plexi-screen mingled with the shower as the ex-Militia officer’s body hurtled to the street below. The Zandokan sentries stood aside and simply averted their gaze away from the sickening impact. Upon reaching the foyer, Brad had just readjusted the wig and realigned the mask. He stumbled out of the elevator, desperate to erase from his fevered mind that hard day in the office…

Spoiler’s gang congregated by the revolving doors, adding the mess on the street to their Instagram accounts.

Touche came running up, all-flustered.

“Mr. Kushner! The Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger is still in the building?!”

“Aye affirmative, that ‘e is, dipwit! If ya ‘urry, ya might jus’ catch ‘im!”

The hoodlums dashed back up the stairs.

Two of the Zandokan guards marched towards Brad, but, in character, he managed to keep composed.

“Secure the area!” he barked, putting on his nastiest authoritative voice. “Make sure the Earthling does NOT leave the building!”

The guards nodded in their usual, slavishly obedient way.

And – just like thatthe Earthling left the building…

“I think his idea was that I kill you. But you know the pity is when I’m paid, I always follow my job through. You know that” – Angel Eyes.

Around the corner, Brad tore off his accessories for the last time and chucked them furiously into a bin.

Over the deafening din of the monsoon, he opened his earpiece and hailed the Calista.

“‘Ey, whassup, mate?!” the Chief chirped.

“Uff, stow it, ‘Arris – I’m not in the mood.”

“Did ya do it…?”

“Yeah, wha’s done is done-“

“‘Eyyy, attaboy, Commander! The ‘ero strikes again, eh?!”

“Nah, far from, Chief… this ain’t NUTHIN’ to celebrate. This… this wuz bang out’a order…”

“Ne’er mind, eh? Got gateau fer ya an’-”

“NAH… dahn’ wan’ any cake…”

“WHA-?! Is that Brad?! ‘Ere, Kushner ya div! Givvuz our Commander back NAHW, ha ha ha!”

“…This ain’t no laffin’ mat’er, Chief… I’ve gone ta this vile dive ta terminate me ol’ superior officer…! Not only that… he wuz a fellow Englishman… This ‘ole thing… ugh… Jeez, it stinks to ‘igh bleedin’ ‘Eaven… This is NOT wha’ savin’ the galaxy wuz supposed ta be abahtTough ‘ero?! It’s really tough tryin’ ta be one… Gawd, this is pants…”

“…’Ey, Brad, ‘e ‘ad ta go, mate… ‘E doublecrossed uz all… nah one coulda done wha’ you jus’ done…  Kudos to ya, fella… Some good hasta come from this – it’s jus’ gotta… I-I know whatcha goin’ through right nahw-“

“Tha’s jus’ it, fella, ya dahn’t. ‘Ope ya nevah havta, an’ all…  Gotta bit’er taste in me mahf that ain’t gonna shift, an’ a lump in me soul that ain’t NEVAH gonna lift… …

“‘E wuz… dammit – ‘e wuz the one who made me Battleforce Commander in the first place…! Rot ‘im… … …”

 

“Sooo… … … ya wanna come back nahw?”

“Nah… thinkin’ o’ openin’ a resort dahn ‘ere…”

“Wha-?! Really?”

“O’ course, bleedin’ ‘o course I wanna come back!! An’ I’m gonna be one ‘elluva soggy moggy if I stay aht ‘ere much longer! Beam me oop now, ya donut…”

BRAD FARTLIGHTER WILL RETURN

 

Strange Love: Meditating With The Master Of The Mystic Arts

Strange Days Have Found Us;

Strange Days Have Tracked Us Down…

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“The realms of imagination are misty places to be sure, and their relationship to the… horrors of mankind have been given substance in DOCTOR STRANGE… A comic like this doesn’t come along very often… Its depth and underlying richness leaves it virtually alone in the field” – Ralph Macchio. 

By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!

How strange! 

The top minds @ Marvel Studios have, in their infinite wisdom, deemed it imperative to give us a movie featuring Doctor Strange: one of the most unusual characters from the extensive Marvel canon.

Being a Master of Arts myself (MA Hons. Archaeology) – ha, yes! Not just a pretty face, me! – with my trusty Trowel of Destiny, yours truly is perfectly qualified to dig through the ancient tomes and extricate musty reams of esoteric knowledge to elucidate some of the best – albeit the most extraordinary – stories featuring the Sorcerer Supreme, to prepare you for the forthcoming movie. 

Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the character made his debut in 1964, in Strange Tales #110, with his origins tale appearing in #116. The first volume of his own series began in the 60s, but, after a poor run, it was relaunched in 1974.

Once, Dr. Stephen Strange had been “a worldly man, seduced and jaded by material things. But then he discovered the separate reality, where sorcery and men’s souls shaped the forces that shape our lives. 

“In that instant, he was born again – a man who left us behind, as he strove to stand against those wretched DC movies the unseen subtle perils hovering thick and black around our fragile existence.”

From within his Sanctum Sanctorum, defending our dimension from the kind of malevolent threats we like to pretend only exist in our worst nightmares; he is aided by copious cupsa tea specially prepared by his ever-faithful Chinese manservant: Wong. 

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“You have saved me, Dr. Strange! I am Eternity! I am life beyond limits – beyond death – beyond end! In short, I am what you see before you: the Universe!” – Eternity.  

In recent weeks, the tale: Spawn of Sligguth (from Marvel Premiere #4, 1972) came into my eager possession. By the Flames of the Faltine! Goodness knows how, for this mini-series from 1972 seems to be extremely rare. The plot was the work of Rascally Roy Thomas and the art supplied by the Bashful Barry Smith.

The first eighteen ishs – written by Stainless Steve Englehart and drawn by Genial Gene Colan – are generally regarded as the Sorcerer Supreme’s most superlative run; so far, ishs # 6, 13 and 17 have been obtained, and their level of intellect and sophistication in storytelling is most impressive. Although the initial concept was all Ditko’s, Colan’s style enhanced the mystical nature of this material. Mere kids stuff it most certainly is not! 

Towards the end of the ’70s, Doctor Strange had become a member of the Defenders, the non-team consisting of Valkyrie and Hell-Cat. Through the tail-end of the 1970s, and into much of the ’80s as well, Roger Stern held sway.

Don’t worry if some of these classics are inaccessible in this dimension. Last year, Marvel resurrected the title and gave the “20th Century’s most powerful sorcerer” 21st Century makeover. Despite being more groovy than mystical, it is one of the more entertaining titles to emerge recently – the cover for #003 (see end image!) always cracks me up. 

For more of my magic-related comics stuff, see here: 

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“One thing you have to say about Marvel is: they are not at all enslaved to the source material, but they are, I think, very good at recognising what made each particular comic great” – Scott Derrickson. 

By the Blessed Beard of Bennybatch!

How Strange… is this?! 

We are just weeks away from the latest release in Phase 3 of the Marvel cinematic juggernaut. 

Having been afflicted with the double trouble from DC/Warner already this year, my expectations for comic book movies have now hit an all-time low – a situation that grates upon me like a spell of dread Dormammu.  

But- curse me for a novice! No need to fret, Dear Friends! 

Are we not in the ever-capable hands of the mighty Marvel Cinematic Universe?! The last time they took a notable risk with such obscure material, they gave us Guardians of the Galaxy and look at how well that turned out!

From the look of the latest TV spots and exclusive clips,  the direction of Scott Derrickson appears to be quite capable. It seems most unlikely that you could get a more ideal actor than Benedict Cumberbatch to bring the Sorcerer Supreme to corporeal – and ectoplasmic – life!

To watch Sherlock shouting: “By Raggador’s Ring!” should be really fab!

The villain: Kaecilius does NOT appear in the comics, but no need to summon forth the Eye of Agametto to realise that in Mads Mikkelsen we should be assured of a well creepy turn.

May the power of the eternal Vishanti grant us a highly enjoyable outing to our respective local popcorn parlours come 4 November (or 26 October if you happen to stay on the tea-drinking side of The Pond)!

…And – Demons of Denak! – may it dispel whatever dark force that burns the back of my mind incessantly like the Crimson Crystals of Cyttorak, causing such grim foreboding at this ungodly hour. 

Speaking of tea, fancy a cuppa Jasmine?

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“Eh? What…? Tea, you say? I have been deep in meditation, lost in the vapours of the Cauldron of the Cosmos, for too long… 

“My thoughts are still unfocused… But I believe a soothing cup of tea would be just what I require. You sense my needs as always, old friend” – Doctor Strange. 

“Pure Imagination”: A Lament For The Music Makers And The Dreamers

There is no life to compare with Pure Imagination. Living there, you’ll be free if you truly wish to be…

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“We are the music makers. And we are the dreamers of dreams” – Willy Wonka.

Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to 3.

My breath could not be held.

It has been taken far too many times already this year by the heartbreaking and unbelievable number of top talent we have lost. Who does not wish that we could have held on to them a little while longer?

Sadly, they are too many to count…

When the news of Gene Wilder broke on Monday evening, it did not immediately affect me. Can’t let it: it’s become an almost-disturbing commonality this year. However, work on a completely different Post was suspended yesterday in order to make way for these thoughts.

Naturally, yesterday, a number of you uploaded “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (1971).

Actually, the first track that came to my mind was this dreamy slice of ambience from Aphex Twin – it contains a suitably magic sample from Wilder as Wonka: 

The year began with a shock that crushed just about all of us.

The top legend – the ultimate pop singer: David Bowie departed, just ten days into 2016 – and only two days after his 69th birthday, and after the release of his swansong album: Blackstar. 

The outpouring of grief they say was “unprecedented.” No, such a mass turnout was to be expected in London, Berlin and New York for the beloved boy from Bromley. 

They say the music will endure – Bowie was sufficiently talented to ensure that, but when you know there will be no more from that unique stock… 

And to think Wilder passed away on Monday listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow. 

To weep, perchance to dream…

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“There is no Star Wars without R2-D2 – and Kenny Baker defined who R2-D2 was and is” – Kathleen Kennedy.

A fortnight ago, the news concerning the passing of Kenny Baker came so abruptly. But the real shock came from not seeing enough Obituaries dedicated to him. 

This is a shame.

Just because he was of diminutive size – 3ft 8in to be exact – does not mean he has less entitlement to a celebration of his achievements.

Originally, Baker appeared in a variety troupe known as the Mini Tones. In 1976, his fellow diminutive co-performer: Jack Purvis convinced him to go and audition for a fantasy film. In the original record-shattering phenomenon that turned out to be Star Wars, Purvis “played Chief Jawa,” but Baker landed the way better more enduring – role of R2-D2, the endearing droid who came to the rescue in every episode. He sat inside the metal shell, even in the middle of the Tunisian desert, just to make the dream of a seemingly-impossible space opera come alive.

And what of Baker’s “audition”? Talk about a dream come true!

He showed up on set. George Lucas pointed at him and said: “You’ll do.”

(…!)

He and his wife – who was also of diminutive stature – played Ewoks in Return Of The Jedi. The actor went on to appear in other genre faves such as Flash Gordon and The Elephant Man (both 1980) but his fave role was as Fidgit in Time Bandits (1981). He did not have to be concealed in an “upturned bucket” or under several coats of alien make-up to work some very special magic. 

Arguably Terry Gilliam’s best film, it followed the adventures of a band of dwarves who exploit holes in the fabric of space and time with the aid of a stolen map and set out to become “stinking rich.” 

It endures as one of the most ingenious and delightful fantasy films you are ever likely to see. 

Quite simply, it is a classic of pure imagination. 

He died on August 13, aged 81.

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“I re-invented my image so many times that I’m in denial that I was originally an overweight Korean woman” – David Bowie.

With each sad, significant loss mentioned in the Obituary columns this year, the grief is accompanied by a gnawing and reluctant realization that there is barely anyone – in either the music or movie industry – worthy enough to take their place.  

“The stars look very different today…”

Is it a telling lack of talent?

Or a moribund cultural landscape where ingenuity and originality are not allowed to thrive?

Or both?

Contemplating the former calamity: tried to think of half a dozen current stars of the big screen.

Nuts…

Honestly cannot remember the names of four of ’em. And the two names that are seared into my memory have done so only cos their output is notoriously dire and unwatchable… 

On this Summer’s day, as warm as the memories that Wilder’s – or Baker’s – or Bowie’s most magic moments rekindle, writing this lament has gone on long enough for one to see l-o-n-g shadows stretching across the ground outside.

Uh-oh – allegorical mode. 

Coming to the end of a productive – and reflective – day, it is all too easy to consider that, with the passing of each true great, we indeed reach a regrettable “end of an era.” 

Nearly all the classic music makers and dreamers of dreams have left us. This is, ultimately, an unnerving, as well as a sorrowful, thought. For they leave a stunning legacy in which: only music that is (at leastthirty years old can be heard through my earphones, and only SF/fantasy films filled with genuine wonder and charm (and NOT artificial CGI!) make my gleeful grade.

They really don’t make ’em like they used to… 

If only all the guff that passes for popular “entertainment” these days was just a figment of our imagination.

But then again, we could dream up far more entertaining packages… 

Couldn’t we…? 

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