Playlist Notes: Novas 2: Solid State Revolution Act 1

(previously: Novas 1 Act 2)

It is an alternate 1984. The Novas, a group of New Wave musicians who escaped from an experimental Simulation, are fighting to bring down the Company that controlled them.

Novas 2: Solid State Revolution

Act 1: System

You ask me where I’ve been, somewhere inside a dream. Connection’s made, I fade away…

01 Helicopters – Solid State Logic (1981, New Zealand)

You ask me where I've been, somewhere inside a dream
Connection's made, I fade away
You plug into the board and hear the overlord
The sparks fly to and fro until your circuits overflow

Solid state logic, don't try to dodge it
(Plug me in, turn me on)
Solid state logic, modular magic
(Tuning on the smile on your dial)
Connect me, connect me, connect me, connect me

You're strung out on the Grid, Pandora lifts the lid
The circuit breakers melt away
The only thing you need is an extension lead
All your tomorrows come today

Solid state logic, don't try to dodge it
(Plug me in, turn me on)
Solid state logic, modular magic
(Tuning on the smile on your dial)
Connect me, connect me, connect me, connect me

Power
Humming down the wires
Projecting all your dreams
Transforming all your energies
Until at least you see

Solid state logic, don't try to dodge it
(Plug me in, turn me on)
Solid state logic, modular magic
(Tuning on the smile on your dial)
Electric computer, into the future
(Plug me in, turn me on)
Electric connection in every direction
(Tuning on the smile on your dial)

Jack, last seen watching the end of the world from inside the Simulation, is awakened from the Simulation and ‘programmed’ for a mission for the Company.

Isn’t that such an amazing little song for 1981? The cyberspace concept had been stewing in the New Wave collective unconscious for a while. William Gibson’s ‘Burning Chrome’ was first published in July 1982.

02 Depeche Mode – New Life (1981, England)

I stand still stepping on a shady street
And I watch that man to a stranger
Think you only know me when you turn on the light
Now the room is lit red, danger

Complicating, circulating
New life, new life
Operating, generating
New life, new life

Transition to another place
Where the time will place more slowly
Your features fuse and your shadow's red
Like a film I've seen, now show me

Complicating, circulating
New life, new life
Operating, generating
New life, new life

Your face is hidden and we're out of sight
And the road just leads to nowhere
The stranger in the door is the same as before
So the question answer's nowhere

Jack, now offline and back on Earth, follows Susan and the other Novas from afar, trailing them to their safe house on a darkened street. He does not seem to be trustworthy.

The synth arpeggios of the Machine Theme follow us here.

03 Propaganda – p:Machinery (1985, Germany)

Motor
Power, force, motion, drive
Propaganda!

On joyless lanes we walk in lines
A calm but steady flow
Accompanied by loud commands
Our strength is running low

Another hope feeds another dream
another truth installed by the machine
A secret wish the marrying of lies
today comes true what common sense denies

Rotating wheels of destiny inflame the city lights
Machines call out for followers far out into the night
The calls of the machines drowning in the steam

Another hope feeds another dream
another truth installed by the machine
A secret wish the marrying of lies
today makes true what common sense denies

We get a sense of the power of the Company and its System, which through its artificial intelligence technology now has control over major parts of the world media and economy.

That’s definitely the James Bond theme, isn’t it? I would almost suspect that this might have been a rejected theme for A View To A Kill (also 1985), which ultimately went with Duran Duran. But why a German band? Well, Trevor Horn (of Buggles) was the producer. Which is why it sounds so very Trevor Horn-ish.

04 Fay Ray – Different Morning (1982, Wales)

I live in a country where the cold and bleak winds blow
Storm clouds are gathering, sometimes I wish I didn't know
We've been building a castle to protect us from the fight
And castle walls will never, never, never keep us safe at night

Warning warning, can't you hear it?
Leave your dreaming yesterday
This is a different morning
And we've got to break away
Warning warning, can't you hear it?
Leave your dreaming yesterday
This is a different morning
Watch the future slip away

Something is changing, look at everyone you meet
Down in the city they're counting numbers in the street
A thousand empty eyes looking for trouble in the heat

Susan performs. We see the state of the City, the real world now, not the Simulation. Things are much dirtier. There is mass unemployment and mass protests. A fascist-populist movement as well as a democratic movement are fighting for control of the streets.

Jack reintroduces himself to the Novas. Susan is reserved. She doesn’t trust him

Oh man, this song. And this video. Sheila McCartney’s voice. This is the essence of the best kind of punk to me. Melodic yet desperate. And terribly relevant to the 2010s. Why did Thatcherism come back? Why? How? What kind of people just cold-bloodedly kill libraries, of all things? Is there anything left of the future to save?

I only knew Fay Ray because of Heatwave (which I found a way to smuggle into Novas 4) but Youtube brought me this. And now it’s their song I love the best.

05 Modern English – Someone’s Calling (1982, England)

Turning round as if in flight 
I sense your breath cut like a knife
A thousand shadows all in pain
What they fear must be the same

The tension's mounting with the tide
I see the heat rise to the sky
I search the faces for a clue
A thousand hates, some laughter too

I start to think, I start to cry
The choice is always mine
But I'm too scared to judge

Someone's calling in the night

The flames were dancing as the people shouted
The streets they were alive as the stage was mounted
A thousand cries of jubilation
From the throes of this great people's nation

And as our bridges burned to dust
A useless theme was quite enough
I felt as you, one with the night
Someone's calling in the night

A populist rally turns dark and violent. The fascist movement is gaining power. Jack and Susan are caught in the mob.

More Modern English, from the same album as After The Snow.

06 Anthony Moore – World Service (1981, England)

Crisis in the night, no lighting in the ballroom
Voices come and go, talking Michelangelo
Down in the forest the insect kingdom gathers
Creatures getting restless, trouble in the night

Waiting for the monsoon, no lighting in the ballroom

Hot repetition, no signals chime
Feeble reception, couldn't get the Mean Time
Blood-flecked voices, distortion and gain
Static interference, short wave brain

Waiting for the monsoon, no lighting in the ballroom

Figures at the window, figures at the dial
Shaking with malaria, nothing could be scarier
World Service, stepping up the broadpass
Letter perfect English, letters to the listener
Aimed at the Third World states
Collecting on the corners, starved of statistics

Waiting for the monsoon, no lighting in the ballroom

Finger in the sky, they're jamming all the airwaves
Searching for the traitor who blew the generator
Oh mother, couldn't find a candle
Man this station, it's just too hot to handle

Waiting for the monsoon, no lighting in the ballroom

Revolution is spreading across the world, but its motives and backers are unclear.

A bit of a British musical genius, Anthony Moore has been making strange sounds for a while.

07 Ann Steel, Roberto Cacciapaglia – Media (1980, Italy)

(media, media, media, media)

From far away I see a gleaming satellite
? the sounds I go for a ride
I'm glad the tones and melodies get to me night and day
Though far away, though far away, though far away

A glamour show unfolds within my daily life
As soon as I switch on the stereo voice
They say their heroes are the stars with always shining eyes
I wonder why, I wonder why, I wonder why

(media, media, media, media)
Stereo boys, media brides

A thousand bands record in greying studios
While you relax and tune them in on radio
The ether records surf their waves that blink and glow
They play for you, they play for you, they play for you

Metropolis have neon days and movie nights
Their windows glow with plaintive TV lights
And if you listen you can hear there's a new sound
The world around, the world around

Wonderful media, magic media

The Novas finally discover the influence of the Company behind the Simulation system and the extent of their plans.

The Ann Steel album – a weird kind of Italo Disco / New Wave art-music coproduction – has apparently had a huge cult influence on club music, and no wonder. It’s probably the best example of the Venn Diagram intersect between those two 70s-80s subgenres.

08 Strange Cargo – Have A Nice Day (1982, England)

Security, Mike Cochrane
Hello?

I am the agent who's tapping your phone
Please remember that when you hear the dialling tone
I am the agent who's tapping your phone
Isn't it consoling to know you're not alone?
Have a nice day now

Hello? Hello?

We are the agents tapping your phone
Please remember that when you hear the dialling tone
We are the agents tapping your phone
Isn't it consoling to know you're not alone?
Have a nice day now

As the world spirals toward competing revolutions, Jack’s programming is activated, forcing him to report back to the Company. The other Novas, and even Jack himself, are unaware of this.

Discogs says that Strange Cargo was Mike Ratledge and Karl Jenkins from Soft Machine.

End of Act 1