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]


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).