Coming at the end a long and exhausting European tour, we reached Adalaide, Australia after a 16-hour flight.
What kind of hick-town was this that we had landed in? It was outrageously hot and, well, somehow different.
The first thing I noticed were the many prohibitions. You mustn’t smoke here, you mustn’t smoke there. No frowning. No driving on red. No shouting in the park. Do not leave your beer cans lying around, etc. etc. And yet the citizens looked so friendly and the way they went about their business so laid-back and cosmopolitan.
I had not slept for about 20 hours and was walking around our hotel lobby, grinning stupidly. In a few minutes the festival bus would bring us to the sound-check. What was in store for us? Completely wrecked, I got on the bus. In the row in front of me sat two freaks with long-haired wigs, the guy in a country-western look and the woman in a one-piece neon orange outfit, with two yellow lightning bolts running up each leg, legs pimped up by ruthless high heels, the kind of thing I came to know and love from the movies of Russ Meyer. Well, that looked pretty cool to me, and so we started to talk.
At first I had a hard time understanding their broad Texan dialect, but these two were incredibly nice and friendly. It turned out I was talking to Laura Lee and Mark Speer of the band Khruangbin.
I had heard their sound months ago in a hipster bar somewhere. It sounded to me like striptease music from the late 60s – my kind of thing exactly. We are currently experiencing a vintage & revival boom that is throwing up such bands as Allah-Las, Altin Gün and Khruangbin.
Why are we fascinated by the sound of an old Roland 808 drum machine,
which we hear almost in every new rap
The California band Allah-Las (since Trump was elected president they only call themselves Lahs) I had seen live a few months ago. The quartet consists of former employees of the famous record store Amoeba Records in L.A. and they protest vigorously at being shoved in the retro-corner. I’ve also observed the same with the Amsterdam band Altin Gün (Turkish: Golden Day).The band emerged out of bassist Jasper Verhulst’s passion for Anatolian rock. The vinyl nerd fell in love with Turkish trash songs from the 70s, pieces by artists like Erkin Koray, Barış Manço or Selda Bağcan and put together a kind of casting band. The really scary thing is how actually authentic the sound appears. When I listen to the old albums from the AnadoluRock genre today, I notice, firstly, their bad sound quality. But the exciting thing was how Turkish bands back then reinterpreted the western sound of Led Zeppelin, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane or the late Beatles. Altin Gün make dance music and use all the clichés of yesteryear. It sounds psychedelic and refined. Beat and bass-heavy. This always reminded me of the musical concept of the Vienna DJ band, Kruder und Dorfmeister who conquered the clubs of the world in the 90s, together with the Paris analogue synth duo Air. That was Austria’s biggest musical hype since Falco. But in the meantime if you listen to the mix of Air or Kruder und Dorfmeister today, it sounds pretty antiquated by now.
Why do we love old analogue music?
Why does Altin Gün use an old Linn 9000 drum machine for many of their pieces? Despite the fact they have such a good drummer? Even Donald “DJ” Johnson of Khruangbin, still plays on an old, junk vintage drum set, and then only the old beats of Clyde Stubblefield and Jabo Starks (James Brown). But in and through the musical cast-offs of our technology saturated society a form of resistance is crystallizing: freaks, druggies, musicians who turn garbage into a communication medium and strive for an anti-rational form of networking. To seek a measure of disorder within a closed system. It’s about visualizing chaos as an expression of decay, but decay as the breeding-place of a new resistance to the omnipotence of a senselessly grinding machine of progress.