Jammo’s Digest: June 2023
Friends, Romans, and Country fans, it hath been a while. I’ve been away, it’s been good. Recently I quit all of my social media accounts (Fediverse discluded) and, at the risk of being the kind of person who says things like “The best things in life aren’t things” whilst backpacking through some far-flung poverty-stricken country on dad’s credit card, I do actually feel as though I’ve got my life back.
Days have grown longer, stress has reduced, and so weiter. Perhaps I’ve gone so far up my own arse listening to the likes of Jaron Lanier bang on about the evils of Facebook and Instagram, that I’m in danger of starting a medieval-inspired Gameboy-chip-core project, who knows, but I’m happy(er).
Anyways, I’ve decided to drop the music report in favour of a more general monthly round-up, as I rarely get to talk about other things, such as comics, books and films. And, without any social media abyss to shout into, why not here? It’s only sweet Dave Kenney that reads this dross, after all. So, without further ado, welcome to Jammo’s Digest!
Wolfgang Dauner Quintet – Take Off Your Clothes and Feel the Setting Sun (MPS): The weather is ridiculous at the moment. Virtually consistent temperatures of 25-30°C throughout May and June are just not fucking normal. So, this swinging bit of Psyche Jazz from Wolfgang Dauner’s 1969 album ‘The Oimels’ seems a good fit, though at this point I may just take my skin off!
Wonky Electro wizard, Si Begg
S.I. Futures – Eurostar (Novamute): Thou shalt not question Si Begg! I’ve been playing this glitch-ridden take on Kraftwerk since it came out, I don’t want to say how long that is, you have Google! Nonetheless, I still love it! Twisted bass, oodles of heavily processed samples and that gorgeously melodious vocoder line. What’s not to like?
Electrelane – Love Builds up (Too Pure): Beautifully evolving Kraut-inspired excellence from Brighton’s equally excellent Electrelane. Built around a noodling Farfisa and fuzzy guitar flourishes, Love Builds Up spirals its way through 5-and-a-bit minutes of what sounds like The Stranglers interpreting Neu, and straight into this old mans heart.
Rahill – Haenim (Big Dada): I’ve no idea what’s being sung on this track, but Dad’s been on Google and found out that Haenim –which means ‘The Sun’– was originally sung by South Korean folk artist Kim Jung Mi and later translated into Farsi by Rahill for this version. Its gorgeous naive melodies put me in a beautiful space, and I will love it forever (both versions).
Al Lover – Integrated Paradox (Fuzz Club Records): I absolutely adore the entrenched neo-kraut sound of this track from Al Lover’s 2022 release “Cosmic Joke” on Fuzz Club Records. My mate Charlie sent me a photo of a sticker a while back, which read “Weatherall is Watching”. Now, I’m no god squadder, but, if he is, I think he’d be chuffed to bits with this. Part Kosmisch, part Madchester, It sort of reminds me of Llywbr Llaethog’s ‘Ffanny’. A proper tewn!
June’s been a great month for films. I had covid again, and have been on my arse. In short, I’ve watched a lot of films, and there are two which have really blown the doors off…
Total Recall (Paul Verhoeven, 1990)
Screencap from Total Recall: Quaid gets his brain fried
I was nine years old when Total Recall was released, living in Munster, Niedersachsen. Proud home of the Deutsches Panzermuseum, A stone’s throw from Lüneburger Heide, and, most importantly, a short car drive from Heide Park. In many ways, my life ran a strange parallel to that of Douglas Quaid, the film’s protagonist, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Him a construction worker, troubled by nightmares/memories of another life, tired of his mundane earthly existence, and dreaming of a more meaningful future on Mars. Me, sitting in a Plattenbau, on the edge of a small West German town, dreaming of sidestepping Wumbo at the Heide Park gates, jumping off the miniature train and finally riding the Wildwasserbahn(2). Quaid and I were like two peas in a pod, which is probably why Total Recall resonated so strongly with me.
The Wildwasserbahn(2) at Heide Park. Almost as good as going to Mars
Fast-forward thirty-odd years and here I am, sitting in another German town, with my fourteen-year-old son, rebooting Total Recall. Now, I’ve always been cautious about re-watching the films of my youth, but I’m pleased to report that Total Recall was still brill!
Nowadays, in my final Pokémon evolved state; a jaded chubby, failed disc jockey, trying to sound clever on the internet, I am aware that Paul Verhoeven’s big-screen adaptation of Philip K Dicks novelette “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” may not entirely do justice to the original, but what a ride it was!
Mostly it was as I remembered: high octane, sexy muscle stuff, with a triple-breasted lady, and eye-popping practical effects, such as the ID card check-in scene, where Quaid (or is it, Hauser) attempts to re-enter Mars encased in a type of robotic flesh suit, played by Priscilla Allen. The suit inevitably malfunctions, causing the head to open, revealing Quaid to his pursuers.
Nine-year-old Jammo hadn’t fully appreciated the subplot of Quaid’s identity, but my fourteen-year-old seemed to, The kids are alright! Did any of it ever really happen? Was it all an implanted memory? Does it even matter?
Aşk, Mark ve Ölüm, Liebe, D-Mark und Tod (Cem Kaya, 2022)
Saz virtuoso, Ismet Topçu
Aşk, Mark ve Ölüm/Liebe, D-Mark und Tod (Love, Deutsch Mark and Death) follows the musical story of the Turkish migrant workers in Germany. The so-called ‘Gastarbeiters’ or ‘Guest workers’ –A dehumanising term if ever there was one– first arrived at the behest of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland in the early 1960s, to help rebuild post-war Germany and its industry.
Cem Kaya’s video essay follows the musical story of the German/Turkish diaspora from the first generation of migrant workers to their children and grandchildren. It tells the tale of a culture clash, promises unfulfilled, and the confusion of a people trapped between two worlds.
The film opens with an out-of-this-world psychedelic Saz solo, from the inimitable Ismet Topçu; a man blessed with incredible talent and oodles of charisma. Explaining the inspiration for his Saz playing style, he says:
“Sometimes, I dream that NASA calls me up, and says, Topçu, we want to hear you play the Saz on the moon” ruminating “Can you imagine if I played on the moon? If I looked down at the earth while playing, and if I recorded it? What would I play at that moment? Which sounds, and which melodies, could I play there?”.
Cem Kaya delivers an inspiring social history, following the music from its early beginnings with labels like Türküola, Türkofon and Minareci, through to 80s and 90s Rap acts such as Cartel and Islamic Force, up to the more recent ‘mainstreaming’ of Turkish and Turkish/German pop music, with artists like Elif and Muhabbet. Taking care to contextualise the music with its contemporary history, the film lays out the racism and the socio-economic pressure that the Turkish diaspora in Germany has experienced over the last 60+ years.
Protest songs such as ‘Alamanya Destanı’ by Metin Türköz, “Instead of Feathers, they gave me a straw mattress, bathroom and toilet are in the factory they said” are interspersed with images of young Turkish migrants being loaded, like cattle, onto trains and shipped to Germany for work. Or stripped half naked, undergoing rudimentary medical tests, in order to gauge their ‘usefulness’ for the factory.
“Alamanya Destanı” by Metin Türköz
Far from a tale of suffering, this is a heroic story of rebellion and DIY attitude. A story of a people and a musical culture that would not be subdued, no matter how much it was sidelined. Music as a weapon, a warning and a balm to heal homesickness. There’s so much amazing music from the likes of Cem Karaca, Cavidan Ünal and Yüksel Özkasap that I can’t write about them all. One of my favourite scenes features a VHS recording of Derdiyoklar playing at a wedding. The guests stuffing wads of Deutsch marks into their outfits as they bash out Turkish folk songs in a heavy metal style.
I recommend this film to anyone who –like me– is interested in and inspired by Turkish music. But, especially at a time when right-wing Nationalism is on the rise in Germany once again, with the anti-immigration party AFD experiencing record highs in polls, it’s an important lesson in racism in Germany.
My Friend Snooh (Rahel Suesskind, 2022)
I’ve just re-read Rahel Suesskind’s 2022 comic My Friend Snooh. The Bizarro tales of three flatmates: Clumsy, Coney and Snooh, not to mention a wild collection of supporting characters.
‘Clumsy’, a bear-ish-monkey-like creature with a passing resemblance to Princess Leia, creates a small puppet (Snooh) from her own snot, which magically comes to life. Coney, Clumsy’s rabbit flatmate, who is disgusted at the very thought of a snot puppet, let alone a fully-fledged snot-person, must accept Snooh or else be doomed to suffer a life of oral herpes. What follows is sixty-odd pages of raucous, monster energy-indebted psychedelic fun, in eye-popping colour. The trip scenes are sublime!
My favourite character by a country mile is the steroid-addled Mrs Rooster; a Mr Muscle-inspired fowl who, like a gym rat genie, pops up from time to time to help civilians struggling with everything from carpet cleaning to constipation. Here’s my favourite panel:
Thanks for reading! Hwyl…
Achtung!!! All clips are cut to 1 minute, mega low bitrate. I do not own the rights to these recordings. If you see my shitty blog as a big risk to your gold medallions, jacuzzis and Ibiza beach houses, then contact me and I'll take it down!