Music

A Long Way from Wonderland

Christian John Wikane

In 1980, Donna Summer walked away from disco's strobe-lit boogie wonderland on The Wanderer. Critics embraced her bold statement; audiences less so. Where exactly was Summer going?

"Alice went to Wonderland but I stayed home instead".

-- Donna Summer, "The Wanderer", 1980

When Bonnie Raitt, Pat Benatar, and Carly Simon were among the nominees announced for Best Rock Performance, Female, at the 1979 Grammy Awards, few would have guessed that the queen of disco was also a contender. Though Donna Summer was the frontrunner in the pop, R&B, disco, and Album of the Year categories, she ultimately won the prize in the rock category for "Hot Stuff", an irony that foretold the artistic journey Summer was about to embark on with producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte.

"Donna was hot as a pistol then", recalls singer-guitarist Bill Champlin, himself a nominee that year in the Best R&B Song category. (He took home the award for co-writing Earth Wind & Fire's "After the Love Has Gone") Only days earlier, Champlin had been ensconced at Rusk Sound Studios in Los Angeles recording background vocals for Summer's new album. What very few of Champlin's peers at the Grammy ceremony knew was that Donna Summer, who ruled the better half of 1979 with three number-one singles and two number-one albums on the pop charts, was stepping out of disco's strobe-lit boogie wonderland.

By 1980, Donna Summer had amassed enough currency in her career to take chances. In October, Summer astounded audiences with The Wanderer, a decidedly rock-oriented album that marked Summer's liberation from the image-making machinations of her previous record company, Casablanca, and from the grueling celebrity lifestyle that sent her to the brink of suicide. (The album also inaugurated David Geffen's eponymous record label.) Harry Langdon's album cover photograph for The Wanderer depicts Summer clothed in layers of scarves and leggings, sitting atop a black bench with suitcase nearby, looking very much "the wanderer". With one hand casually nested in her perfectly coifed hair, Summer's gaze is direct and provocative. "I dare you to listen" is the implied message.

In the February 1981 Musician, Roy Trakin assessed The Wanderer as "disco diva Donna's Inferno, a trip that will take us through her cold hell, up against fiendish temptation and out the other side to spiritual redemption". Using rock as catharsis, Donna Summer issued a bold artistic statement that surprised listeners expecting another Bad Girls (1979). I had an opportunity to discuss this critical career juncture with Summer herself in January 2003 for a research project about black female singers and rock music. Did she lose her way when trading gowns for guitars? A closer listen to The Wanderer suggests that Donna Summer was anything but lost.

The Songs

"I view my singing as an acting piece, so every song is a different character. I approach each song based on the texture and the color and the ideas that are in the song".

-- Donna Summer

As one of popular music's most bankable figures in the mid-'70s, Donna Summer had worked virtually nonstop for five years by the time she sat down to compose songs for The Wanderer. After relentless touring and averaging two albums a year since 1975, she desperately needed a respite. "I was home. I was actually pregnant at the time, and I had all the time in the world to really conjure new songs", Summer recalled. What emerged were highly personal stories about spirituality and superstardom.

Emancipation from the shiny shackles of fame is a prominent theme on The Wanderer, particularly on the opening track. In the lyrics to "The Wanderer", Summer insinuates that she'd tired of assuming the glamorous image propagated by Casablanca. Bad Girls did little to dispel the modern day Aphrodite image she was never entirely comfortable with, but the Donna Summer on "The Wanderer" is not the same Donna Summer who moaned "Love to Love You, Baby" for nearly 17 minutes in 1975. Instead, she warbles lyrics in an uncharacteristically deep voice not unlike 1950s rocker Gene Vincent ("Be-Bop-a-Lula"). The voice affectation is a vanishing act of sorts as Summer distances herself from the sassy, sexy "bad girl" image: "Slip down the back stair / on my toes and out the door / They didn't hear now / they won't see me anymore / 'Cause I can't take that nine-to-five /life is a bore"

Similarly, the world-weariness Summer projects on "Who Do You Think You're Foolin' " (written by Sylvester Levay, Harold Faltermeyer, and Jerry Rix) reflects five years spent in the heat of a blinding spotlight. Singing in third person Summer cautions, "Fame is only a dream land away", knowing full well that stardom is a tenuous phenomenon, based on a shaky semblance of reality. Summer and her background singers repeat the phrase "You're a star" at the end of each chorus not with elation but with abrasive cynicism.

The elusive nature of fame and its soul-sucking power preoccupies the somewhat indecipherable "Grand Illusion". Giorgio Moroder's spacey, heavily synthesized sonic landscape creates a hypnotic mood for Summer's otherworldly voice. She sings in what can only be described as a sped-up falsetto:

Oh grand illusion, likes to fade away

take my love and go out to play

It's no intrusion, it's like a rainy day

comes to wash the clouds away

and this pain of mine

The words are sung in a chantlike cadence, as if Summer wrote the lyrics in a meditative state. During the bridge, Moroder's swirling synthesizer patterns make it seem Summer is being circled by a benevolent celestial force that will wash away her pain. Imbued with its munificence, her voice takes on an operatic, seraphimlike vibrato: "Find the melody / that puts our hearts in tune / Simple symphony/that makes us feel brand new".

She addresses spiritual rebirth more directly on three other songs: "Looking Up", "Running for Cover", and "I Believe in Jesus". The latter is Summer's resounding declaration of redemption. Summer had become a born-again Christian only months before recording The Wanderer and "I Believe in Jesus" was the most explicit expression of her renewed faith.

Less overtly spiritual, but more musically compelling, is "Looking Up", which sounds like the single that never was. For one, Summer sings in her trademark, full-bodied voice rather than the camouflaged tones on the title track. Summer's lyrics, co-written with Pete Bellotte, take flight with Moroder's propulsive dance-rock arrangement. Building on its fervor of guitars, drums, and keyboards, "Looking Up" contains a bracing chorus-to-bridge transition. Just before the second chorus ends, Summer swoops up in her falsetto to sing an angelic "oooh" that fades in an echo to the sole beat of Keith Forsey's drum. It's merely seconds long, but the sudden suspension of the rhythm section, save the drumbeat, creates an energizing anticipation. The keyboards and guitars quietly return and Summer self-harmonizes a type of prayer in a soft, sung-spoken voice:

And since that rainy day

the clouds just stay away

You chase them with your love

the greatest love I know

'Cause in the darkest hour

you'll come with sunny showers

My life is yours today

don't ever go away

Of the songs about spirituality, "Running for Cover" captures Summer and her musicians in all-out rock mode. She explained its inspiration to me in 2003: "That was right at the time when I got converted, and I think that I was looking for a way to say what had happened without being obvious. I was trying to explain it in a metaphor that I was running for cover, for protection". It stands as one the most dramatic songs Summer ever wrote.

From the unnerving, high-pitched keyboard tones that open the song, "Running for Cover" is steeped in an eerie, claustrophobic atmosphere. Summer, who composed the lyrics and music, sings about "running scared" in the city over a sparse bass and drum background. Hers is a nefarious urban space, replete with unsavory temptations, from which she seeks both refuge and salvation. "I was always alone and afraid, such a pity / little girls just don't know what comes out of the dark / But the devil waits in heat/ and I'm on that dead-end street." Her narrow escape from the "devil" is documented musically. As the beat quickens, so does the urgency of her singing until she bellows "The devil's in the park and it's already after dark". Guitarist Steve Lukather unleashes a manic solo that perfectly conveys Summer's fear and escape.

The rock edge of "Running for Cover" is repurposed with a pop feel on "Cold Love", where Summer nurses the wounds of unrequited love in a the tune that illustrates Summer's character-driven approach to singing. Like the title track, it's not readily apparent who is singing the song. Critic Dave Marsh noted in his review Rolling Stone review that Summer "punches across" the tune like the "ultimate Anglo-rock singer". Summer says, "I just approached it like a rock and roll singer. I didn't think that I'm black or white. I just thought 'How does rock and roll get sung?' "

Summer convincingly inhabits each story on The Wanderer to the point where her voice is virtually unrecognizable from one cut to the next. The falsetto on "Breakdown" reflects the fragility of romantic love, while the nursery rhyme about nocturnal dwellers on "Nightlife" is sung with a throaty sneer. "Stop Me" is altogether different with Summer hollering "But if you've heard this all before / don't let me carry on no more" to a scorned lover over a new wave cum hard rock arrangement. Critic Stephen Holden singled out the cast of characters that so typify Summer's singing on the album in his review for The Village Voice, "Not since I Remember Yesterday has Summer adopted so many different voices. There's the caterwauling street kitten, the breathless little girl, the tough rocker, and the stagey diva" (1981).

The "supporting cast" for Summer's characters on The Wanderer is a trio of male background singers who give a distinct shape to each song. Bill Champlin brought session vocalists Carmen Grillo and Tom Kelley to the project, and their voltaic vocalizations broadened Summer's sound from the disco diva-isms that mark her earlier work. As Grillo recalls, "We would do these pyramid types of things. We thought, Why don't we all hit the same note and then it will sound more people-y? We would all sing the low note, then we would all sing middle note, then we would all sing the high note".

"Last Dance" this certainly was not.

The Reaction

"I think that they were kind of taken aback because they were expecting a big dance record and I didn't go there. I specifically didn't go there so that they would not continually pigeonhole me, not because I didn't like dance music -- I love dance music -- but I wasn't in dance mode. I was in 'writing something else' mode".

-- Donna Summer (2003)

Here are the statistics: The Wanderer earned Summer a gold album, two Grammy nominations, a top-five single in the title track, and nearly unanimous praise among critics. Writing for Billboard, Ed Harrison remarked, "The singer has chosen to experiment...veering gradually in new directions and in doing so has progressed as a performer and a writer" (1981). Robert Christgau wrote in his Consumer Guide, "Personally, I delight in the synthetic perfection of the thing" (1980). In Rolling Stone, Dave Marsh commented, "It's Summer who pulls everything together with such intense purposefulness that the album is finally a complete and convincing statement of innocence, faith, joy, terror and the ability to deal with life head-on" (1981).

Audiences and radio programmers, however, were a bit confused. The woman who only a year earlier playfully chanted "toot toot, beep beep" was earnestly proclaiming her devotion to Jesus. Whereas Summer's first two singles on Bad Girls were chart-topping smashes, the follow-up singles to "The Wanderer" -- "Cold Love" and "Who Do You Think You're Foolin' " -- scraped the bottom of the Top 40. How did someone so ubiquitous one year become so difficult to program the next? Quick to defend the first artist he signed, David Geffen explained the struggles of promoting a rock record by a black female artist to the Los Angeles Times:

The problem with Donna's album is that it's a rock record, but rock stations aren't playing it because of a prejudice against black artists and female artists. When you look at a rock station playlist and can't find a single black act, I think there's something radically wrong, and it has nothing to do with Donna Summer. And Donna has the misfortune in terms of rock radio to be both black and a woman.

Tom Hadges, the program director at KLOS FM, hypothesized, "It's a difficult thing to try to reverse an image. The people who bought her albums before aren't buying the new one and rock audiences aren't willing to put their money down on a Donna Summer album right now". The compartmentalization of radio formats and audience's resistance toward Summer's change in style clearly hindered the record. Not wishing to gamble further, Geffen hired Quincy Jones to direct Summer towards a more conventional R&B sound for her subsequent album (Donna Summer, 1982)

About the reception of The Wanderer, Summer remains philosophical: "If you're an artist, you have to do your artistry. Sometimes there's a conflict and people don't want your artistry to be what it is and so you make the adjustment to try to please them. At that point I wasn't trying to please anyone but myself. That's not my best selling record but at the same time, I think it certainly was one I felt that I was being true to myself. I was not allowing myself to be pigeonholed where people were trying to put me, but I was taking them with me on this journey. We were going to 'wander' around and we were going to go to places that they hadn't been with me. That's what The Wanderer meant to me". Listeners who accompanied her on the journey heard an artist who simply refused to stagnate. Summer may have left "wonderland", but she found her soul.

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

The Hall of Fame has been harshly criticized for some of its more inexplicable exclusions and for neglecting certain subgenres of music. Cynicism and negativity over the Hall's selection process and membership is fairly widespread. That said, despite the controversies and legitimate gripes, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is still widely viewed as a career milestone. The Hall's stature feeds its surrounding controversies: after all, nobody would care to argue so vehemently about the merits of one artist over another if it wasn't important. Very rarely will a newly inducted artist miss the opportunity to appear at the star-studded ceremony to accept their honor.

The criteria for nomination is as follows: "Artists -- a group encompassing performers, composers and/or musicians -- become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first commercial recording. Besides demonstrating unquestionable musical excellence and talent, inductees will have had a significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock and roll." Specifically for performers, "This category honors bands or solo artists which demonstrate musical excellence. Such a descriptor includes (but isn't limited to) influence on other performers or genres; length and depth of career and catalog; stylistic innovations; or superior technique and skills."

These standards allow the selection committee wide latitude with their choices, and generating a list that would create zero controversy is an obvious impossibility. As for those deserving artists yet to be included, their time will surely come. There has purportedly been an emphasis on increasing diversity among the nominating committee and voters in recent years, and the list of contenders for the class of 2018 reflects this.

Radiohead, as expected and deserved, are nominated in their first year of eligibility, and there is little doubt they will be inducted. Other nominees include Bon Jovi, Kate Bush, the Cars, Depeche Mode, Dire Straits, Eurythmics, J. Geils Band, Judas Priest, LL Cool J, MC5, the Meters, the Moody Blues, Rage Against the Machine, Nina Simone, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Link Wray and the Zombies. It's a strong and varied group.

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise on the list, however, is the British duo Eurythmics. Even though they've been eligible since 2006, this is their first nomination. Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox certainly deserve recognition for their important contributions to the musical fabric of the last 40 years. While Eurythmics have always been generally respected, they've never been darlings with the critics like some of their contemporaries. It's puzzling as to why. Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting and creative audacity. Lennox is second to noone as a vocalist, not just in her lead parts but also in the creative, often rhythmic way she uses her voice as an instrument. This nomination could boost the stature and perception of Eurythmics' body of work immeasurably.

Although Eurythmics are often consigned strictly to the synthpop genre, that designation fits only a portion of their repertoire. Each of their nine studio albums has its own unique vibe while retaining the duo's core identity. Eurythmics never repeat themselves, often taking bold risks and swerving in unexpected directions. Unlike many of their contemporaries, Eurythmics didn't "sell out" or compromise by chasing after obvious Top 40 hits. Even their most popular singles aren't commercial in the traditional sense, and they've always sounded like nobody else on the radio.

Despite the sudden emergence of their 1983 single "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" as an MTV staple and international smash, Eurythmics are far from an overnight success story. Their story begins in London, 1975, when Stewart fortuitously encountered Lennox at the restaurant where she worked as a waitress. The Scottish singer had recently dropped out of the Royal Academy of Music, which she felt didn't suit her musical interests. Stewart and Lennox strongly connected over their love of music, and they quickly became a couple who were inseparable. Along with singer/ songwriter/ guitarist Peet Coombes, Stewart and Lennox formed a short-lived group the Catch. After one failed single, they added two members and renamed themselves the Tourists.

Coombes was the dominant creative force and primary songwriter behind the Tourists. Lennox and Coombes shared vocals on the band's dour and melancholy power-pop. The Tourists released three albums and managed a handful of chart appearances in the UK. Two of their singles, a peppy cover of Dusty Springfield's "I Only Want to Be With You" and the hard-rocking "So Good T\to Be Back Home Again", made the UK Top 10. The band toured extensively, but their success was fleeting. The Tourists' third album, Luminous Basement (1980), tanked badly despite containing their strongest material yet, and the group dissolved shortly thereafter.

Lennox and Stewart also endured a painful ending to their sometimes tumultuous romance, but they recognized the power of their musical chemistry and decided to continue working together as a duo. They were a pair "who couldn't be together, and who could not be apart", as Lennox reflects many years later in the song "17 Again". History has shown that they made the right decision: Stewart and Lennox compliment each other intuitively through a shared passion for music, the thrill of experimentation, and the need for emotional release that songwriting and performing allows.

The name Eurythmics was derived from a technique used to teach music to children based on sensory and physical methods of learning rhythm. The newly-christened duo signed with RCA Records and in early 1981 headed to Germany to record their debut album with highly-respected krautrock producer Conny Plank.

Plank already had a long string of acclaimed albums to his credit, including collaborations with Neu!, Can, Ultravox, Kraftwerk and Brian Eno among others. The sessions for what would become Eurythmics' debut album, In the Garden, were held at Plank's studio in Cologne. He brought several of his regular collaborators into the proceedings, including bassist Holger Czukay and drummer Jaki Liebezeit of avant-garde rockers Can, Blondie drummer Clem Burke and D.A.F. electronics whiz Robert Görl. Stewart has described the sessions as a learning experience that helped expand his perception of what pop music could be and how it could be created without following any rules, a perspective that served Eurythmics well.

Eurythmics' austere and hypnotic debut single "Never Gonna Cry Again" was released in May 1981. They filmed a low-budget video and landed a couple TV slots to promote the track, but the song's haunted nature did not translate to mainstream success: it barely scraped the lower reaches of the UK singles chart. A second single, the dreamy guitar-rocker "Belinda", followed in August but failed to chart.

In the Garden was finally released in October 1981, but without a hit to generate momentum it was barely noticed. Despite scant sales figures, the album's gloomy psychedelic guitar-pop makes for a rather strong debut. In the Garden exists in late summer shadows, densely atmospheric and shrouded in a veil of dread. Lennox's vocals are understated, subtle and lower in the mix than on subsequent albums. Sound effects, odd vocalizations and bits of sonic experimentation fade in and out like flashes of hazily repressed memory.

RCA wasn't eager to invest in a follow-up to In the Garden after its disappointing reception, so Stewart financed Eurythmics' second album largely through a personal bank loan. Faced with a minuscule budget, they worked in a London warehouse to avoid spending money on studio time. They were able to purchase cheap second-hand equipment for the sessions, including the basic TEAC 8-track on which most of the album was recorded. Adam Williams, former bassist for the ska band the Selectors, helped the duo learn the equipment while co-producing some of their earliest tracks.

The primitive set-up was the ultimate blessing in disguise. Since they were financing the sessions and self-producing, Eurythmics had the freedom to experiment with no oversight. As both Lennox and Stewart were enduring periods of deep personal strife at the time, the sessions evolved into an emotional and creative catharsis that helped shape the mercurial nature of the music. It was out of this environment that a classic was born.

Despite appearing only a few months after their debut album, the first single to emerge from the new sessions proved radically different than any of Eurythmics' prior work. Released in April 1982, "This Is the House" is a flamboyant, horn-driven spectacle on which Lennox belts out a vocal more confident and brash than any of her prior work. The song's odd mix of synthpop, R&B; and latin influences renders it completely unique, but despite its infectious ingenuity and beguiling loopiness (or perhaps because of it), "This Is the House" failed to chart.

The follow-up single that landed two months later is even better. Entrancing and soulful, "The Walk" exudes the anxiety, drama and innovation that became Eurythmics' hallmark. The vocal arrangement is ingenious, and Dick Cuthell (known for his work with Madness, the Specials, Fun Boy Three and others) lets rip a blistering trumpet solo. As in many of their songs, "The Walk" slowly ratchets up the tension through hypnotic repetition and the gradual addition of more layers of sound until it reaches a haywire frenzy. Although a brilliant recording, "The Walk" fared no better than its predecessor.

With the duo's second album Sweet Dreams (are made of this) completed, RCA began a strong promotional push, issuing the opening track "Love Is a Stranger" as a single in November 1982. Lennox's dazzling vocal ranges from icy cool to fiery passion over a relentless electric groove bracketed by sinuous lines of synth. "Love Is a Stranger" rose to #54 in the UK, their highest placement yet, and momentum was finally building for the duo thanks in part to the single's provocative video.

The first significant chapter in a series of visually arresting promotional clips that Eurythmics generated over the span of their career, "Love Is a Stranger" showcases Lennox's dramatic presence and her innate ability to command the viewer's attention. She plays multiple roles, ending the clip with her red hair slicked back and dressed androgynously in a man's suit. Image was quickly becoming an important part of the Eurythmics' equation, with Lennox always compelling no matter which character she inhabits, and Stewart often appearing as her sort of mad-scientist counterpart.

Sweet Dreams (are made of this) hit the shelves on 4 January 1983, along with its title-track, a single that continues to reverberate through pop music nearly 35 years after its release. Suddenly everything changed for Eurythmics. An obscure British duo, barely managing to survive in the music business, soared to the top with one of the more unconventional songs ever to scale those lofty heights.

"Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" has an unusual structure, with no real verses or chorus. Lennox has described it as a mantra, and indeed it is. The lyrics, which Lennox rattled off spontaneously in a matter of minutes, are a simple but profound statement about the human condition: "Everybody's looking for something," the search for meaning and fulfillment, the ephemeral "this" of which sweet dreams are made.

Lennox begins the song with a single line of vocal, then starting with "some of them want to use you" at the 0:24 point it doubles. From there the song gradually builds intensity, with the vocals increasingly layered. A masterful finalé combines all the sonic elements before fading to black, the mantra repeating endlessly, the "this" still stubbornly undefined. The booming minor-key bass riff and the epic string-motif solo starting at 1:31 are played by Lennox on a Roland Juno-6 synthesizer. The main riff (improvised by Lennox while listening to Stewart working on a drum-machine pattern), is a simple two-bar arpeggio that loops throughout most of the song. Two parts were recorded separately and panned on opposite sides of the sound spectrum, creating a richly resonant effect. "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" is no dated relic from the early days of MTV burdened by the limitations the time. Its massive waves of synth flood out of the speakers with enormous power, as inexorably as the tide.

The music video, which became wildly popular on MTV during its heyday, is forever entwined with the song in listeners' collective consciousness. The iconic image of Lennox in her masculine suit and flaming orange flat-top helps to define the new wave era. Her forceful demeanor, nervy confidence and the subtle nuances of her facial expressions amplify the song's inherent tension. She confronts the viewer directly by pointing right in our faces at the 0:24 mark. At 1:56, she offers a sly half-smile with, "some of them want to abuse you", and at 2:15 she pounds her fist just as the song reaches its dramatic apex. Stewart appears throughout the video stoically pecking away on the drum machine he used in the recording of the song, the Movement MCS Drum Computer MK1 (except for that part where he and the cow have, well, a moment… It's all in the eye contact).

After a slow climb up the US pop chart, "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" was finally able to derail the Police's "Every Breath You Take" from its seven-week reign at the top during the week of 3 September 1983. It would be Eurythmics' only chart-topping pop hit in America, and it reached #2 in the UK. In the wake of Eurythmics' new-found fame, "Love Is a Stranger" was re-released, this time becoming a major hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

The album's deep cuts are every bit as strange and fascinating as its better-known singles. The ghostly "Jennifer" is a narcotic reverie of keyboard swells and spectral atmospherics. "I've Got an Angel" and "Somebody Told Me" are serrated neurotic fits, swerving dangerously off-the-rails from anything that would normally be considered pop music. A long and mesmerizing exploration of urban isolation, "This City Never Sleeps" is a powerful finalé. Sweet Dreams (are made of this) is an examination of the human psyche fraught with turmoil, a series of jagged recurring nightmares and anxiety attacks set to music that is soulful and experimental, melodic but eccentric, a stark electronic soundscape that bristles with horns and unexpected sonic jolts.

Next Page: Potent and Ferocious

This film suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image