As some of you may know, when I’m not writing esoteric science fiction reviews, I’m a singer, writer, performer, and concept-maker for a band called YACHT. Occasionally, these wildly separate spheres of reality do have axes of intersection; now is one of those times.
I’ve made a continuous mix of music that journeys deep into the musical underbelly of science fiction. Yes, finally! Science fiction you can dance to! Download “Fly On, UFO” to travel to disco dystopias and far-flung cosmic boogies. Visit the hellish world Cerrone‘s “Supernature,” where scientists would do anything to feed the starving masses, including poison the world with chemicals that would create mutants down below. Sidle up next to miss Dee D. Jackson, who, looking at the erotic robot in her bed, polished chrome gleaming under white satin sheets, raises her perfectly glossed lip in a snarl, and utters: “Your body’s cold.” Raise your fist to the night sky with Chromium, who, seeing a UFO in the sky, beaming with promise, lights in primary colors like an 80s movie, are yelling “Come back later!”
And end your adventure with the impossibly weird folk burner, “In The Year 2525,” the musical equivalent of Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men, a future history that tells the tale of the next two billion years of time, touching on eighteen distinct versions of the human race, from regular flesh-and-blood people to birdlike creatures living on Neptune (Zager & Evans only go about ten thousand years into the future, but they hit some classic sci-fi themes on the way, like genetic engineering, mechanical automation, and test-tube babies).
- Message from the Stars – Snob
- Space Disco – Cosmic Hoffmann
- Spacer – Sheila & B. Devotion
- Supernature – Cerrone
- Automatic Lover – Dee D. Jackson
- Spacer Woman – Charlie
- Beam Me Up (Jacques Renault Remix) – Midnight Magic
- Tout Petit La Planete – Plastique Bertrand
- I’m Ready – Kano
- Future World – Ganymed
- Fly On UFO – Chromium
- In The Year 2525 – Zager & Evans
Big thanks to Boing Boing for featuring “Fly on, UFO!”
The new YACHT album (which comes out in less than a month on DFA Records) SHANGRI-LA, is very much inspired by the discipline of science, or speculative fiction; the idea of “Shangri-La” or “Shambahla” gained traction in the West, like science fiction, in early pulp publishing; its Utopian aspiration strikes a similar chord.
After all, Utopia is science fiction, as is its inevitable inverse.
As a parting gift, I leave you with a sick, almost disgustingly slick vision of the future from Ganymed, an Austrian band whose gimmick was the nexus of proggy synth opuses, full-bore silver costumes, and cosmic pseudonyms. It’s no Philip K. Dick, but at least you can boogie down to it.