Monday, 16 May 2011

Dawn Of The Zombies!

Zombie (Haitian Creole: zonbi; North Mbundu: nzumbe) is a term used to describe a hypnotized person bereft of consciousness and self-awareness, yet ambulant and able to respond to surrounding stimuli.

Zombies have started to grow on me – as if they’ve crept into the bunker during the night (as I guess they’re apt to do) and, rather than tried to strangle me, or eat my flesh, have invaded my consciousness. Yes, they’ve been there ever since I watched ‘I Walked With A Zombie’ on TV back when terrestrial stations showed more cult films. Some of them were in black and white, which caused my father to complain about how he didn’t pay his TV license to watch this old rubbish. That’s how cultured he was, bless ‘im. ‘Citizen Kane’? Rubbish! ‘8 ½’? Foreign rubbish! And so on. It’s a wonder I know my Fellini from my Chabrol. At least I think I do. Although part of me has inherited genetic philistinism, there’s no doubt. But that’s OK because, at the click of the mouse I can quickly learn and probably convince you that I know what the hell I’m talking about.
   Now, zombies. I’ll be honest, I was immune to them until recently. Zombie books, Jane Austen and zombies (someone’s writing ‘Daniel Deronda and the Dawn of the Zombies’ as I speak, probably), zombie TV shows and films – nah. Well, I’m still resisting all that, but coming across the comic strip ‘Corpses...Coast To Coast!’ (1954) (excerpt below) started me hunting zombies. Guess what, they’re everywhere! Yes, people, millions are ‘hypnotized...bereft of consciousness and self-awareness’ – they’re all around us...I blame Ant & Dec...or TV full stop, because it turns me into a zombie. Yes, I sit on the sofa, glazed expression, mouth slightly open, brain in sleep mode...even (or especially) when watching Brian Cox explain the universe. I can’t win. As Harry Enfield’s TV brother used to say, ‘If it’s too hard, I can’t understand it’. Conversely, if it’s dumb, I’ve switched off anyway.
   We’re all prone to becoming zombies. Information overload, trash TV, awful music, as it all seeps in we become it hypnotized. We walk, eyes wide open, to the fridge for another morsel of something, then back to the sofa. We walk the street, barely conscious, in London especially, of the architectural wonders around us. Perhaps we walk through fields, not noticing that kestrel high above. I’ve witnessed the latter many times whilst visiting the countryside. One day a Dodo scurried between two trees and into some bushes. Nobody but us saw it, and there were other people around. They are not extinct, believe me; they simply go unnoticed.
   ‘They Won’t Stay Dead!’ screamed the poster for Romero’s ‘Night Of The Living Dead’. This is especially true of musicians whose careers should be well and truly over, but then you’re flicking through a ‘paper and damned if they aren’t touring again. Names you’d forgotten, but look, they’re back, older, greyer, fatter and fit for reviving their bank accounts courtesy of loyal followers. Good luck to them. I shouldn’t talk as if I only live for The New. Almost everything I love musically is from The Past.
   So here is an album from the past, Fidenco's 'Zombi Holocaust' (1980). It’s a wonderful thing, shot through with that dark synth sound, and, naturally, some voodoo chanting/drumming. Some of it’s even in the synth-Pop mode, and even that’s OK.

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