Categories
electronic film

EELF

I love YouTube.

It’s one of the best inventions of this century. For me, the platform functions as a time machine. With a few clicks, I can visit the 1981 concert of New Order in New York, see and hear AC/DC perform with singer Bon Scott back in 1977 and turn my living room in a club with a perfect DJ-set full of rare records by My Analog Journal or enjoy the futuristic 80s visions by Are Sounds Electrik?.

YouTube makes the world smaller.

James Hoffmann makes me extremely happy with his coffee fetishism and Will Yeung vegan ramen is delicious and so easy to make.

But the channel I love most is EELF.

Since 2017, EELF (Andrius from Lithuania) has been combining hand-shot video material from the 1990s that he finds on YouTube with new electronic music found on platforms such as Bandcamp and Soundcloud. The combinations are exciting and unusually beautiful. The EELF channel is already close to 22 million views. Despite the old visual material, the conjunction with new music (which often sounds retro) does not feel nostalgic.

Maybe that’s also because the nineties, like the eighties, never really disappeared. The 21st century is characterized by the lack of a narrative of the now and the future. In that respect, we still live in the eighties and nineties. That last decade was postponed in 2001. It looks like it’s starting up again.

EELF’s YouTube channel is a success. In the beginning, he combined lo-fi house with film scenes. It was fun, but something was missing. The combination had to be more than just a gimmick. Sound and image had to support one another, had to lead to something unique. It all came together when he started using found VHS material from YouTube. New lo-fi house with amateur video clips from the 1990s was a perfect fit.

Today EELF has a catalogue of about 800 of these combinations, the channel has around 147,000 subscribers, and Andrius spends two hours a day making new uploads.

Finding the perfect combination is a delicate operation. His latest upload is footage from a sailing trip in, probably, the early nineties. The camera is shaky. Clumsy zooming in and out too fast, too unstable. The soundtrack is provided by Carmel & Salomo’s ‘Happy Hour’, released two weeks ago on vinyl by the label R.A.N.D. Muzik from Leipzig. It fits perfectly.

Andrius’ tagline is ‘EELF is creating nostalgia’, but his combinations are beyond nostalgia. Yes, his video material is from the past and the brand new music he uses flirts with the heydays of rave and electronic dance music. However, the combination isn’t referring to the past. It’s much more an alternative reality, a representation of a world that could have been. Could have been the present. I would suggest calling this post-nostalgia: EELF’s productions make us aware that we can approach things today in a more open, conscious and naïve way without losing ourselves in the past or the future.

This is a new sort of pop culture that doesn’t fight the status quo but creates a different world. YouTube is full of channels like this, and they all deserve our attention.

Visit EELF’s channel on YouTube here.

Categories
electronic film pop

Hunter Complex – Dead Calm and Zero Degrees

Yesterday evening Hunter Complex streamed a live show from his studio to promote his new album Dead Calm and Zero Degrees. The performance showed the difference between this fourth one and the others: Hunter Complex is in control.

That sounds cryptic, doesn’t it?

Let me explain.

Lars Meijer started out as an ambient electronic music producer. He co-founded the influential Narrominded record label in Haarlem and debuted in 2009 as Hunter Complex with the 80s oriented electropop mini-album ‘Here is the Night’. References were Gary Numan, Depeche Mode and Japan. Since then, Hunter Complex evolved in a much more sophisticated blend of different 70s and 80s styles of synthesizer-driven music, ranging from bubblegum pop to yacht rock, electro-pop to film soundtracks. Along the way, Meyer stopped using vocals.

Last years Open Sea was a blend of sultry, intelligent and bittersweet pop music. It was, as Simon Reynolds would call it, music that misremembers the 80s. A, no the best soundtrack for a rerun of Miami Vice in 2019. The album is a monument of desire for a decade in which everybody believed in a better future.

His new album Dead Calm and Zero Degrees sounds different: the longing for a past that never existed is gone. Instead, the album is a soundtrack for an alternative reality that isn’t so much rooted in the 70s, 80s or 90s. One aspect is the way Meijer uses analogue and digital synthesizers from all those decades interchangeably. But that isn’t the essence. His music could still sound aesthetically like the 80s, right?

Well, it doesn’t.

His performance last night showed a remarkable difference with previous shows. Instead of playing with classic movies from the 70s and 80s on the background, Lars played the movies on the foreground, him infiltrating in the images themselves as a spectre haunting them. Maybe you’ll think it is far fetched, but for me, that is a huge turning point in Hunter Complex’s aesthetics: instead of being haunted by the spectres of the past, Hunter Complex now haunts the spectres. That’s the control part I mentioned earlier.

Hence, there is no nostalgia anymore in this new work. Meyer has found a way to use all kinds of sounds and tropes from the past to come up with something that is 2020 at its core: a post-nostalgic ambient synthpop masterpiece.

Dead Calm and Zero Degrees by Hunter Complex is released by Burning Witches Records.

[Move your mouse over the image and click to play]

Categories
film

Too Old To Die Young

One of the best series I’ve seen in a long time: Too Old To Die Young is the heir to True Detective‘s first season (and maybe second). It’s a masterpiece.

Dutch critic Harry Prenger wrote some excellent words about it for The Post Online. In Dutch, but easily translated with thanks to Google Translate. Read it here.

Director Nicolas Winding Refn and writer Ed Brubraker constantly refer to pop culture. The most brilliant scene is the last one. In a very short finale (in length only one-third of the rest of the episodes) Yaritza – played by Cristina Rodlo – kills a couple of Mexican gang members and frees a group of women forced into prostitution by. It marks a somewhat optimistic end: as High Priestess of Death, she is continuing the battle against pure evil, like the other protagonist Martin Jones was doing before he was brutally killed.

As the minutes pass away, Yaritza leaves the bar and closes the door with the guitar riff of Judas Priest’s ‘Rocka-Rolla’ (1974) accompanying her.

Sadly enough there won’t be a second season, but Refn and Brubraker are definitely the ones to watch out for.

Harry Prenger’s review is here.

Too Old To Die Young (2019) is released on Amazon Prime.

Don’t remember ‘Rocka Rolla’ by Judas Priest? Here’s the YouTube video.

Oh, also must share this scene with music by The Leather Nun (1983).