Review: 56k - Generations Lost
Josh Burke, the forever future-gazing synth whiz kid from the modernist soil of Chicago, has crafted another monument. Burke has gone a long way, from the woozy, hazy endless droooans of his earliest releases, to the wonderfully hi-fi, crystal-clear New Age waves on his later work. Returning with another vision, Josh transports himself into the Information Era with his retrodelic project 56k.
56k. I hope I don’t have to explain this name to anyone. Unless you’re 15 or something, you spoiled fucking brat. Back in the day, a 56k dial-up modem was everyone’s dream, a gate to the world of exciting possibilities and super-simple web pages… All that, doused in a mist of nostalgia, is what is offered on ”Generations Lost”, the tribute to older computer & early world wide web days, released on the rather unknown & yet worthy of “hype” Notice Recordings label. While the opening “Voices” might not give much of a hint to the 56k’s delightfully new style, rather deciding to soak the listener in a steady, yet delicate drone and mixed walls of distorted, vague recordings of, well, voices. The track works, however, it seems to be working towards the aim of putting the listener in a state of pleasant limbo, a sort of short-lasting coma, through which one goes to another plateau, only to be prepared for “No Reflection”.
“No Reflection” is the definite highligt of the tape. It glides forward with effortless ease, sounding like the Windows 95 opening theme stretches over the course of a few minutes, albeit more dynamic and rhythmic - it is a crystal ride through the excitement of your first modem, logging in to AOL, using the chatrooms, waiting forever for an .JPG of your favorite car to load, creating your e-mail account, never to be used again except to brag in front of your nerd friends. The dynamic music of this track would make for an excellent background music for a business PowerPoint presentation or a 90’s show about using office software in your small company.
The rest of the tracks follow the more or less established path of New Age relaxation with an Information Age polish, plodding ahead in slow, beatific melodies and simple repetitions, like on following “A Dream Within a Dream”. Despite the general uplifting and positive tone of the almost corporate electronic soundtracks contained on the cassette, there are darker, more chaotic moments, also. Like the dissonant, mis-organized “Generations Lost”. If all the other tracks sound like the smooth sailing over the early WWW, this track sounds like accidentally discovering your first shock website when clicking the wrong link or opening a pornographic website through a spam e-mail and immediately closing the browser, terrified and guilty. Thankfully, the closing (and aptly named) “Angel” descends to save you from the dangers of the web and bring you back on the right track, lighting the way to the future and showing the right path.
The only thing that is left to wonder is what direction will Josh Burke take in the nearest future, if this tape’s any indication, it might see him moving to the more rhythmical, dynamic directions, while still retaining the New Age quality and soft glare to his music. It would be really nice to see him get into some blurred, delicate variety of ambient techno, but that’s just me. Lots of hope from this guy!