No single today. Going deep into Komeda's first English-language album, 'The Genius of Komeda.' By 1996, I was back from Japan and living in Washington, D.C. I had not paid much attention to the music scene the previous two years, and I got my footing from a most unlikely place. MTV launched a sister station that year, called M2 at the time, and it was actually good... for a few minutes, anyway. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit on that brief timeline, but the promise of delivering nothing but music videos, and with a heavily alternative bend, was short lived. This was probably the busiest period in my life, and I didn't have much time to watch television. So, a four-minute music video now and again was perfect for me.
My introduction to Komeda was the video "Rocket Plane (Music on the Moon)" one early morning while standing in front of the TV with a bowl of cereal in one hand and a spoon in the other. It sounded like interstellar lounge music, and I took to it immediately. After one listen to 'The Genius of Komeda,' however, I picked up influences from many places, including Serge Gainsbourg, Neu!, Can and, of course, the contemporary Stereolab. You'll definitely hear them in today's pick.
The band's music often had an art-film soundtrack vibe, and its namesake was taken from Krzysztof Komeda, the composer probably best known for scoring many of Roman Polanski's '60s movies. Komeda's Markus Holmberg told Billboard in 1996, "In his film scores, Komeda made strong music by small means using rhythm and melodies in unexpected ways to form a nice mood... but we tend to think and say that we play pop music." Yes, it's pop music, but it always felt like the many moods of Komeda pushed that simple pop label to exciting places. If you're new to these Swedes, 'The Genius of Komeda' is a nice place to start, but more critics and fans would probably push you to followup 'What Makes It Go?' If you're looking for Komeda's legacy, pick up 'Oscillations' by Cosines. It's one of the best albums I heard in 2014.
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