Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Top 100 Songs From the 1990s (No. 14)

14. "Disko"
Artist: Komeda
Year: 1996

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.


George said...

Completely new to me Brian. Stereolab soundalikes, and no bad thing. Playing this whilst Jo is not here, I suspect she would detest that endlessly repeated riff, but I absolutely love it.

The Swede said...

Never heard of them - bloody marvellous tune! Still throwing curveballs as high as No.14, excellent. I seriously need to investigate these guys further.

Brian said...

George, Don't play this for Jo. She probably hasn't recovered from the Scritti Politti Turntable Mix and may begin cursing me at some point.

Swede, Highly recommend the two albums I mentioned. The third English-language album is a slight dip but highly enjoyable too. The early Swedish stuff is for die-hard fans. I'm one of those. As far as curveballs go, at best, I think there will be no more than one left that might be new to you... quite possibly none. Some will be pretty obvious. So the posts are bound to get a little shorter.