Radio Quarantine -Kampec Dolores – Made In Budapest (1986)

Why not Budapest? It shouldn’t surprise me that these sounds came from any European metropolis by 1986. The world, as far away as countries like Hungary or Romania seem to me, and as much as they all evoke images of gothic castles, ramshackle farms and gypsy caravans (for me), is very small. It was the 20th Century. There were cities connected to the same global/neural network as New York or London or Paris. There’s no good reason to think they remained in the 19th century while the rest of us moved forward. You could also argue that none of us moved forward after a certain point. We simply changed and added to our cultural repertoires, and that individual cultures all started to blur.

KAMPEC DOLORES, apparently, is an old Hungarian proverb invoked when someone dies. Drawn from Yiddish and Latin, it means simply, the end of all pain and sorrow. Bring on the backdrop images of mucky farms and dank castles. And I will have to say this, it’s a hell of a lot darker than most of what was coming out of the UK and the USA. Maybe it’s that Eastern European thing again. They don’t try to pretend there is no pain and sorrow in life. They’re not whitewashing an entire side of the human emotional spectrum. And it’s interesting to read that they performed with Nico in their early days. There is more Velvet Underground influence here than most post-punk bands from back then, and that’s saying an awful lot.

This has been my own soundtrack since returning home yesterday. I’ve mentioned that the city is opening up again and it definitely is. The streets of the East Village and Chinatown were a lot more crowded than they have been, and it’s not just that the weather has taken a turn toward the pleasant. People are starting to re-emerge en masse. The sidewalks are more crowded. There is even more auto-traffic.

I retreated back to Brooklyn and swung through Coney Island. It wasn’t a normal spring crowd but its moving. it’s open. The Wonder Wheel was spinning. There were people on other rides. There were excited shouts and the midway was open, barkers and cotton candy and all. Still not back to before, but it’s all rebooting. We’ll see what Covid-19 has to say about that. It’s a dead heat right now with the uptick in vaccinations. I got my second Pfizer shot, though I’m not yet all that eager to return to everything.

And frankly, I’m not eager for everyone else to return. I’ve said that before in recent days. All things must pass though. The crowds are back. The city has decided to ignore joblessness and other woes and took a stand against graffiti and street art. You can read all the derision into my words that you want. You wouldn’t be wrong if you felt I’m feeling ‘some kinda way’ about that. They are ridiculous. Their decisions to follow false flags and tip their lances and meaningless actions aren’t new.

So I came home to Kampec Dolores and it totally worked for me. The semi-mechanical rhythms and off-kilter horns matched the vibe. Though recorded in 1986, they are a good match for a world that remains off-balance. They cut like a hot knife through the bitter margarine of the pop flow of purposeful dumbness. The next 12 months will b Phase 2 and we’ll see just how much we’ve all learned from the loss of over half a million people here in the States. India is at peak-Covid right now. No doubt with a population of that size, roughly a 6th of the population of the planet, it will be a holocaust, and also breed any number of new variants.

Hold tight, fingers crossed kids. It’s not over. We’ve just moved on to the sequel and the screenplay is writing itself.

Fingers crossed. An empty gesture? Maybe, but have religion and government worked?

Off-kilter music for an off-kilter world, baby.


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