Surrealism and absurdism have always captivated me, they slice the reality as we know it and perform its autopsy, opening unseen layers… But first things first. Here is my new video on of the best post-punk/new wave songs ever by the British band Wire, 1979. The clip is composed of 2 works by great surrealist directors Jonas Mekas (born in 1922, Lithuania/USA) and Vladimir Kobrin (born in 1942, USSR).
I’ve found something
No one else is looking for
I’ve found something
That there’s no use for
And what’s more
I’m keeping it to myself
A lot can be said about both directors, but let me keep it short. Mekas started to work in the early 60-s and Kobrin in the late 70-s. Mostly they did short films. Jonas Mekas is well-known as an influential figure of avant-garde cinema and surrealism, developing the ideas of such brilliant surrealist stories like a short movie ”Meshes of the Afternoon” (1944) by Ucrainian American Maya Deren. Hm, now I notice a certain pattern, it seems that artists from Eastern Europe share some common mindset… Here’s my favorite part of it (with the soundtrack by Cigarettes After Sex):
Both Mekas and Kobrin often worked in something close to the documentary style, especially Kobrin – some of his works were shown during the seminars, in schools and universities as part of educational programs, but he never reached any notoriety. Everything he did was extremely low-budget, independent and with lots of creativity to compensate the lack of technology. Now he is now largely forgotten even in Russia…
Mekas and Kobrin shared something else in common. I read interviews with lots of people who worked with them (and Mekas was a friend and collaborator of Warhol, Lennon, Salvador Dali, Yoko Ono, etc…). Both were incredibly simple, humble and open people.
Mekas‘ movie that I used to make the music video is called ”Song of Avignon” (1998) and Kobrin‘s work is ”Self-organization of biological systems” (1989). There’s a lot to explore about both directors. Surrealist cinema is a huge world. I think these short movies may be a good start if you’re interested.
Few words about Wire. Wire were (and surprisingly still are) one of the best post-punk bands ever. Point. They were never as famous as Joy Division because there was no tragedy, no hype and nobody committed a suicide. Pardon my sarcasm – I love Joy Division with all my heart, but there has always been too much hipster hype around them. Wire actually started before them, did 3 brilliant albums:
- Pink Flag / 1979 (kind of a minimal art-punk with many songs lasting barely 1 minute)
- Chairs Missing / 1978 (excellent post-punk with some pure pop tunes)
- 154 / 1979 (probably their peak, a mix of an obscure post-punk with deceitfully positively sounding pop songs)
Each embraced different mood – from dark psychedelia and angry post-punk to pure pop tunes – and sound incredibly fresh even now. The band later went on hiatus but suddenly reunited in the later 2000-s and not just for some nostalgia shit like many reunions of last 10 years – Wire released a couple of amazing classy post-punk albums.
There’s one thing I particularly adore about Wire – absurdism/surrealism of their lyrics. It shines through, although bleakly, in many post-punk (and some new wave) bands, but Wire managed to capture the essence of it thanks to the gracious minimal form of their songs without any unnecessary noise – they’ve always had a maniacal attention to the details, keeping everything minimal, intriguing and avoiding to hide the fact that technically they weren’t brilliant musicians. And who gives a shit?