Sunday, 19 November 2017

Space Age print / Flying Saucers Are Hostile / Starship Troopers / Shit & Shine - That's Enough / Felix Kubin - Takt der Arbeit

RTomens, 2017

More of my art here

1967 1st edition

You've been warned - 'YOU DARE NOT ALLOW YOURSELF TO IGNORE IT!' (from the back cover).

Flying saucers are hostile, so too are the alien bugs in Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers - "The only good Bug is a dead Bug!". It's 20 years old and re-watching it I confess to enjoying it even more than the first time. That's a 'confession' because revelling in a film filled with square-jawed, squeaky clean heroes out for military death or glory to bombastic soundtrack sounds like hell as a film, but that's the point. ST is pumped up and primed as a trashy action film whilst constantly undermining everything it superficially celebrates. It's very sheen is as sickening as the site of a bug ripping a soldier limb-from-limb. It's gung ho writ large but gets booby trapped at every turn. Verhoeven knew what he was doing but did it so well that few could see the subversive irony through all the flying limbs and phoney machismo. 

In a way Shit & Shine like to play with machismo (note the cover) - perhaps they really are macho men. But there's an 'ironic' edge to most everything they do and their latest, That's Enough, is no exception - 'Do you know the way to the garden party?' - the EPs filled with samples, a long one opening the opening title track, which you've probably heard by now. The Worst continues playing with the sample idea -  the judges on American Idol? Subversion, like ST, is embedded in the per-usual nasty grooves - that must be Simon Cowell sampled - we might think that's enough of that talent contest shit but it just seems to keep rolling and so too, thankfully, do Shit & Shine. 

Do they still make musical geniuses? What do you reckon? Whoever 'they' are - parents of musically gifted kids who rise above being mere talented? What? Anyway, Felix Kubin: as Mark E Smith said 'Check the guy's track record' - it's impressive, to say the least. Here he is with Takt der Arbeit, four soundtracks to educational and industrial 16mm films about work. Is this a return to the fascist/imperial/dictatorship reflected in Starship Troopers? Is that what Work is? 

Track one has a militaristic slant (those drums) echoing the regimentation of both machine and human operators but here Kubin brilliantly orchestrates the components into something that sounds part friendly info film soundtrack, part chaotic depiction of factory-frazzled minds. Geburt eines Schiffes has the mood of Soviet-era proletariat-powered propaganda so strong you can see the workers marching towards you over the horizon, shirt-sleeves rolled over bulging biceps. Hold on, I got carried away with that idea. The actual mood is one of a huge industrial-age factory gradually coming to life with the roar, clank and hiss of machines complete with triumphant music heralding the brave new era of man-made mechanical wonders - or hell, since the overriding atmosphere is actually one of foreboding and tragedy. Martial Arts continues the work-til-you're-musclebound theme but Kubin continually breaks things down (a musical spanner in the works). The group Kubin works with add essential components to the EP; the human element in what could have been just another 'industrial record' in other, less creative hands. Release date was supposedly Nov 17th but as I write it's not yet out so keep an eye on Editions Mego. Don't miss it.

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