Newmen x Wolfgang Flür – Futur I
Kraftwerk’s influence on modern music is incalculable. Yet, for all of their importance, their clear imitators are few. This is strange, particularly because, as you know, if you’ve been following the chars, outside of commercial pop, retro melancholy is quite popular. Most of your favourite 1960s or 70s band have a modern equivalent designed to make you increase the number of times you use your preferred streaming service.
The reason for the lack of Kraftwerk clones is, most likely, due to the fact that the German group’s most prevailing influence has been on pop music of all places. The quartet showed that a band could be something else besides four blokes with drums and guitars. They also showed that electronic music could incorporate highly melodic, palatable elements. However, it’s, perhaps, important to remember just how extreme and exotic the approach of Kraftwerk was at the time that they made their iconic best work. The same can be said of the other German groups that later became defined by the ill-advised moniker of Krautrock.
Newmen, however, are looking to not merely mirror the sound of the German pioneers, but feed on the inventiveness and courage that defined their work. Collaborating with Wolfgang Flür, a legendary member of Kraftwerk for more than 15 years, they create an artsy, moody, bare-bones composition on Futur I. This is art school music for those who are still studying by textbooks issued in the 1970s.
Crawford Smith – Seen
Nintendocore, dungeon synth, vaporwave. When we’ll look back at the cultural significance of the past ten years, we may just see it as a time when the internet made popular music become truly honest and specific about its goals. Meme-driven and with a network of weirdos just financing its bizarre obsessions, these artists are the new pop avant-garde.
The difference between these musicians and, say, Throbbing Gristle’s walls of pummeling, “steel mill with a beat” sound is that the tongue-in-cheek, inside joke potential of these genres makes them potentially palatable to audiences across the world. No more do these artists have to face the seemingly impossible task of explaining just what it is they do to a music label exec. The internet is their own distribution channel.
With that in mind, I hope you’re ready for, Twin-Peaks-core, as I have affectionately begun referring to Crawford Smith’s Seen. With its video and 50s crooner sound, Seen could squeeze easily into practically any season of David Lynch’s bizarre, surreal masterpiece. Pretty yet unsettling, Smith has already learned that the best way to make something scary is to play everything straight, or, at least, as much as you can when singing in a tiny pink room flanked by dancers wearing lobster cardigans.