In my more nostalgic moments, I'm given to hankering after the simple, more honest things in life from days gone by. Although I admit it's been something of an uphill struggle to get anyone to share my ambition of bringing back the ducking-stool for witches/mothers-in-law or the re-introduction of the top hat and loin-cloth as everyday wear for the man-about-town.
I'm a patient bloke – I can wait until I seize power...and on that day, my children...on that day....
Hands up if you still get dewy-eyed when you hear the monophonic electro-strains of some classic computer game. Personally, I get misty when I hear the burbling of the sounds from Galaxian, although there may be many more I've forgotten about. The plucky musical efforts of home computers of yore (way before they were ever called PCs) will always hold a place in the heart of those who used them.
Commodore 64, SNES, Atari, and Spectrum computers (please don't write to me if I've omitted your own favourite machine...I murdered my postman quite brutally two weeks ago, so it'd be a fruitless quest) will always have far fonder memories than the owners of Johnny-come-lately gaming platforms such as Playstations, 360s, and the like (although the music from Final Fantasy VII on the Playstation 1 evokes some wonderful memories for yours truly).
By now, gentle reader, you're probably wondering why I'm wandering along this particular grassy path of yesteryear, when I should be crossing the roadside ditch (and peeking over the privet hedge) of Has Been by Atlanta's Retconned.
Just bear with me.
Retconned consists of one person only, namely Jonathan Lukens, whose write up (which may be self-penned) on the label's website informs the wide world that he is a post-punk minimalist.
It doesn't mention anywhere that the entire Has Been album sounds as if it's been composed and played on a Commodore 64, replete with all its inherent limitations of sound synthesis. This would no bad thing in itself if the result were not so mono-timbral.
Mono-timbralism in itself would not be a problem if it had been used in anything other than a self-indulgent bleep-fest. Imagine sitting through 36 minutes of the incidental music to Horace Goes Wallpapering on the Spectrum 48k and you have, in essence, Has Been.
No doubt Mr. Lukens could enlighten me on how his art is deeper than it appears and how I just don't understand what he's trying to do or where his musical "journey" (have you noticed, dear reader, how everyone is on a bloody "journey" these days?) is heading.
Personally, I don't mind any artist taking me on their personal "journey", just so long as it goes further than the potting shed at the bottom of their own garden, leaving me mystified while they smile inanely at me as I labour to grasp the point of it all.
I can see where Lukens has drawn some inspiration from Nine Inch Nails' rather excellent electro-industrial-thrash triumph Year Zero, but the comparison between that and Has Been is rather like comparing a stealth bomber and one of those feather-clad loonies who attempts to fly off the end of Brighton pier during the town's annual 'Birdman' competition.
I would blame a lack of final mastering on the total absence of any bottom-end sonics on the album, but for the claim that it was mastered by Lukens and one T.Thatcher. Margaret Thatcher might have been more help, in all honesty. As it is, nought but a muddy mess of what sounds like the same overdubbed oscillator is what assaults the ears.
I must add, though, that the CD has given me a fun-filled afternoon, as I could not lay my hands on my proper Frisbee.
Has Been? Well....quite.