Monday, April 26, 2010

Music In Mayaland

Techno music has finally been accepted. What was once considered too weird and too electronic, is now the beat of the current drum. Everyone is dancing today to the pulse of the rhythm machine (as evidenced in the success of the new local club, Montezuma's A Go Go). Certainly the band to get much of the credit for current dance tastes is Germany's Hardwerk.

Happy to say that Hardwerk are coming to town courtesy of local Amazon Attractions. This is an event that local disco fanatics have only dreamed about. It is also a good time to talk about the band's history before they perform at Anderson Split Pea and Ham Hall on the University campus.

Hardwerk come from the German city of Cologne (their studios are actually in the suburb of Afterschafe). They were the darlings of German avant garde for many years, until the release of their hit album Montalban. This eighteen minute musical tribute to the star of Fantasy Island, caught the fancy of the American public, and hurtled them into international stardom. Who can forget those repetitive yet infectious lyrics:
"We're fond, fond, fond, of Ricardo Montalban.
We're fond, fond, fond, of Ricardo Montalban."

Well, as they say, the rest is history. Many albums followed Montalban, including TransVestite Distress, The Washing Machine, Appliance World (known in Germany as Appliance Welt), and the soon to be released "Toaster Pop." As one can tell from the last three albums, the band has been obsessed with the idea of home utilities. Appliance World gave Hardwerk another hit single with "Coffee Percolator," a ditty extolling the musical virtues of a morning cup of coffee:
"It plays a little melody, but not when I've a cup of tea."

That album produced another lovely dance number called "Herr Dryer," which served as the cover inspiration (pictured). I know all of us will be looking forward when Falk, Ulrich, Christian and Kaiser perform this catchy little number in concert. Try not to miss it.

Rumors are also afloat that another techno band, BMD, may be appearing locally. Though not as technically polished as Hardwerk, this British band has garnered many fans. BMD, which is short for Bowel Movements in the Dark, would be a welcome visit on our shores.

Other musical trends are reflected in the number of motion pictures playing locally. In fact, the University has a series of rock films playing. The Sex Pimples movie, Like a Garden Rake Up the Bum, begins the series, followed by the reggae classic, Jamaica? No, We Just Held Hands, which features bands like Jah Kitsch and Truck Drivers of Rhodesia.

And one film that just seems unable to leave this town, returns again, in From Swahili to Schumann, Iggy Gavalt in Nigeria. This classic film shows famed accordionist Iggy Gavalt teaching the rudiments of ivory fingering to rustic natives. An acknowledged virtuoso, Iggy seems a little hard on the natives. When in his honor, they pummel an antelope with crude rock hewn instruments, Iggy snidely says, "Yes, but can they play Schoenberg's Five String Quartets?" Iggy does, however, seem touched later on when a Masai tribe performs Stravinsky's The Rite Of Spring on gazelle skulls.

Although music has been the theme of the movies mentioned here, I just have to mention another film in the serious, non-music category. One film that has impressed me much lately, is Karma, the monumental epic biography of Eastern mystic, the Karma Denominator. What a film! Director Edgar Rice Attenburrough has assembled the perfect cinematic experience in the telling of this great man's story.

Harvey Korman is superb in the title role of Karma. So many moments stand out in this film. Karma, a true man of peace, fasts for the peace of his nation. Nearly on his death bed, Karma never loses his sense of humor. "I'm so thin," says Karma, "that when I drink a glass of tomato juice, I look like a thermometer." "That's an old joke," says Prime Minister Nasser. "Well, what do you expect?" replies Karma, tossing a bowl of curry playfully on the head of his friend, "I'm an old man." Rare are the moments like that in cinema. See this film if you haven't, and next time I'll talk further on the current crop of movies.

[First published on March 30, 1983.]