Titi Woo – Major Tom (מייג’ור טום)
David Bowie was a young man with plenty of ambition and a handful of folk songs by the time he discovered his true self… for that particular stretch of time. The former one-hit-wonder poured his interest in Japanese theatre, messianic rock figures, and space travel and reinvented himself. He was Ziggy Stardust and would stay that way for a brief few years until other avenues of expression caught his fancy.
While it is true that music, and popular art for that matter, moves in cycles, it is also true that it manages to offer a clear indicator of the hopes and worries of society at the moment in time. Bowie took his inspiration from many sources in order to create his alter-ego, and now others, predictably, are using him as a springboard.
Titi Woo’s upcoming second album is a mix of early Bowie and Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince. But, where the Thin White Duke hinted towards sleaze, Woo speaks of innocence. His songs and videos are travelogues through the imagination of childhood. It’s a fascinating strategy of dealing with and discussing difficult adult themes. Titi Woo’s Major Tom is an original indie-pop experiment.
Child of No Nation – Radical Playground
Whatever forms popular music will take in the years to come, its history gives us some hints on which, were I not forbidden to gamble, I’d wager some money. Its more pleasing, palatable versions will continue to help to sell generally useless products. It will take upwards of 12 people to write a modern pop tune, and AI algorithms might get involved as well. However, the more adventurous and experimental distant relatives of pop will continue to try and build a bridge between themselves and their audience based on meaningful stories. There will also always be rebel music around.
It took a while for me to realize it, but pop music’s essence really is about making a spectacle of oneself. There’s no way around it, so it’s best you wear a clean shirt while doing it. Rock n’ roll, for example, is essentially a version of theatre performances based on the daily news.
Child of No Nation’s Radical Playground has quite the story to tell. They use hints, subtleties, and the aura of their music to do it. The members of the group were part of The Living Theatre, the oldest experimental theatre group in the United States. The company was co-founded by Judith Malina. Radical Playground is dedicated to her.
The music disguises itself as a dream-pop tune quite convincingly. Really it is more of an incantation. Lest we believe that their work is created this way merely as a ploy to draw attention. Members of the art collective also present their shows on the doorstep of companies like Monsanto and Boeing as non-violent environmentalist protests. There’s plenty to uncover once the surface has been scratched, and it all may be well worth the effort.