First of all, let me wish you a happy new year and great Holiday seasons. Whether you’re regular readers or just passing by, that’s the least you deserve.
Last week, I spent a few days at my mom’s in Bordeaux. If you haven’t heard of it yet, Bordeaux is a city whose inhabitants still believe they’re the center of the world because it was cool for its wine, philosophers and slave trading during the 18th century.
During the few days I spent there, I re discovered my father’s record collection. He was a fan of Berlioz, Procol Harum and early electronic music. I spent part of my childhood listening to Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwek or Vangelis before I went way further than himself could imagine. One of the reasons dad loved them was for their futuristic aspect.
If you remember the million spectators gigs Jarre held everywhere in the world, there was much more than a free concert and impressive light show. The fully digital music and laser made light effects gave the feeling of coming from a distant future the artist was a musician with.
My father loved holding that part of the future in his hands. There’s something definitely ironic my father probably didn’t get back then. How can you get a glimpse of the future without immediately making it part of the past? That’s an important aspect of the relativity of time that had me spending years focusing on a past I couldn’t catch anymore instead of doing what I had to do to build the present.
Amongst all dad’s albums, I rediscovered Vangelis Direct. The Greek composer is mostly known for releasing Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner OST, but lots of his albums are worth listening to, starting with Direct or The Friends of Mr Cairo.
Direct is interesting from many aspects.
It sounds so incredibly outdated for a futuristic album you would almost expect it to be the footage of some late 20’s science fiction movies a la Metropolis. Listening to it, you find yourself in the position of an archeologist from a distant future discovering a record from an ancient civilization.
This is the exact feeling I had without being able to translate it into words when I first read Van Vogt books in the mid 90’s. Most of Van Vogt books were depicting the complexe world of the Cold War sent to a distant future. Discovering them as a post USSR reader with a scholar knowledge in History made them terribly old fashion.
While being old fashion, Direct also brings a strange, dark sightseeing of the future. Something between a clean dystopia a la Gattaca and some scary post apocalyptic Dr Bloodmoney where the frontier between a technology serving or enslaving making gets blurry.
This perspective gets interesting as 2014 was hot in terms of artificial intelligence, robots, and drones becoming mainstream. It’s fascinating to see how the future we shaped diverged from the one we once thought.