Monday, February 4, 2013

TV Mania!

I must admit, I never thought it would arrive.

In the late 1990s, Nick Rhodes, keyboardist for Duran Duran, and Warren Cuccurullo, former guitarist for Duran Duran, had an idea.  The title of the concept was TV Mania: Bored with Prozac and the Internet?  As is the case with nearly all things Duran, it was to be a hybrid of music and visual art and despite what art and music critic purists might say, that is by no means detrimental to either one.  To be dismissive of efforts of this nature would be, to paraphrase Bob Geldoff, "to be dismissive of Roxy Music or David Bowie and that would be ridiculous."

TV Mania was years ahead of its time.  So much so that it might have been categorized as science fiction back in the day.  Today, it's regular life.  It's a concept record about a family that surrenders its privacy to scientists in exchange for a high tech lifestyle.  Additionally, their every moment is broadcast on TV.  That's right.  Years before reality TV.  As for the music, Artist Direct describes it this way:

"The tracks were constructed by blending television samples and looping rhythm tracks to create a sonically sophisticated collection of songs that now serve as the perfect backdrop for the frenetic energy and atmosphere of today's digital age."

After listening to a 30 second snippet of the song "Beautiful Clothes," I'd have to say its an apt description.  A mixture of ambient and industrial sounds interspersed with sound bites of society at its most telling and vapid.  This is not to say that Rhodes and Cuccurullo intended the project as a dyslogistic statement, but more of a "it is what it is" commentary.  After all, they are both happily "pop trash." So much so that it was also thought that TV Mania might one day become a Broadway musical with an enormous TV serving as a backdrop while the family lives out their soap opera-like lives underneath the omnipresent electronic eye.  I think that would drive the thesis of the project home all the more, but it looks less and less likely that it will happen.  Then again, I never thought the TV Mania record would get released, so what do I know?  I'm just a blogger.

Speaking of blogs, the fervent and ubiquitous presence of technology sends the concept of TV Mania meandering  into cyberpunk in a manner that I believe Gibson would admire.  The subject matter of the songs include video surveillance, virtual shopping, pharmaceuticals, and of course, film, fashion, and fame.  To quote the venerable Nick Rhodes:

“When I found the master recordings, I thought ‘Wow, this sounds unbelievably contemporary’” said Rhodes. “When we put them up on the system, it was not only a great surprise, given what we had thought their fate was, but it was also literally like finding a painting and blowing the dust off of it. Times have certainly changed since we made the record, but the subject matter that inspired this album happens to be at the forefront of today’s world, so the songs have weathered the test of time in a strangely beautiful way.”

Naturally, I plan to at least download TV Mania: Bored with Prozac and the Internet? from iTunes upon release.  If funds prove positive, I might even order the deluxe package that comes with a number of goodies such as a 12-page booklet of original art and a Nick Rhodes signed Polaroid hand dipped onto white art stock 12" square paper.  But as I await the release, I'll content myself with the antics of TV Mania on Twitter.  Case in point, Nick tweeting the photograph below with the question, "I wonder if TV Mania will ever play here again?"

Beautiful decay.  Just like our cyber TV society.

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