The 21st Olympic Games were held in 1976, in Montréal. I’ve been to Montréal, though only for 5 days. In that time, I did get the impression that it was definitely a unique city. It’s the bastion of the murky French otherness that exists in Québec, a nation which has somehow clung on to life despite being subjugated in the past and surrounded in the present by the irrepressible horde that is the hollow and decadent North American-Anglophone culture.
A concept album inspired by the Montreal Olympics? It may seem bizarre at first, but the strange and the inspired are always hand in hand when it comes to Melbourne’s Black Cab.
In the 1960s, the Québec underwent what is called the ‘Quiet Revolution’, where basically the French-speaking population started to assert themselves and their culture after years of conservative rule that favoured British and Canadian-Anglophone interests. So Montréal, invigorated with cultural gusto and yearning, began to undertake a ‘look at me!’ posture in the hope that they’d finally get noticed, sort of like Melbourne does all the time. Hence, Montréal invited the World Expo over in 1967 (featuring a giant, conspicuous bubble landmark, and some fugly new age apartments) and the Olympics shortly afterwards.
Why am I telling you this? To impress you with my historical knowledge? Well, yeah, it’s pretty cool, and it gets heaps of chicks, but you don’t care about that? You do? Oh, ok cheers. Anyway, it’s because Melbourne band Black Cab – aka Andrew Coats & associates – are going to release a concept album about these Olympics. It’ll be called Games of the XXI Olympiad and come out on the 7th of November.
But Black Cab aren’t really interested in Montréal’s social upheaval during that time; they’ve instead decided to make an album about East Germany’s surprising performance at the games, the women’s swimming team in particular. The band have only slowly released four tracks for the supposedly ‘double-length’ album, but from what I’ve ascertained from them, learning about the East Germany concept suddenly makes a load of sense.
The concept and the sounds perfectly dovetail – but that’s basically because they’ve been ripped from the time period. I seriously expected the chorus “Wir Sind die Roboter’ to be sampled at any stage during all of the songs, such is the love-in for Kraftwerk. There’s far more influences than just those (West) German heavyweights, there’s licks of The Cure and Depeche Mode lying about too to be fair.
These songs, though, do firmly throw one back to the 70s and the dawning of electronica. Go Slow pulsates along, interrupted by pre-historic snaps of synth. After a time – and it’s a long time, all of these run for a good while – the melody appears, upbeat waves rising along with the flow of hazy, hazy vocals. There’s guest vocals by Lucy Buckeridge from old-favourites Lowtide in there somewhere too, towards the back.
Supermädchen (Super girls) is next in Soundcloud’s order, a musical accompaniment to the aforementioned female swimming team. This track proceeds along almost at once with no-nonsense pace, until it explodes (although remember these are synths, everything is pretty tame) into a brooding atmosphere. Beneath the mix are vocoder-vocals, which further adds to the sense of mechanical transhumanism I imagine Black Cab are trying to convey. Supermädchen carries on like this for almost 10 minutes too, as if it was the official soundtrack to the medley relay or something.
Lastly – and I say lastly despite the fact that these tracks were released earliest (more on that soon) – are Combat Boots and Sexy Polizei. The former sounds like a number to attach to a redemptive number (the chorus “I’ve got ma Combat Boots ohn” comes out pretty defiantly), and intriguingly, when the song breaks down it resembles the founding buzz of the party boy song from Jackass. The latter, Sexy Police as it were in English, sounds apart from the other songs as it has an actual melody. In short, it sounds like a weepy romantic ode full of sehnsücht straight from the 1980s. Or something, I wasn’t alive then. Whatever.
Black Cab have been making this album for yonks – as I alluded to only a paragraph ago, Sexy Polizei was first released 4 years ago, and Combat Boots not long after that, too. In anticipation of the looming release date, Supermädchen and Go Slow have been let loose in the past two weeks. Whilst I’d say the music aspects of the album are promising, I think it’s really cool that they’ve done a concept album on something not many people know about (including this gem I just found). There should be more of that. Wow, this has been a really long write-up, I’m just gonna end it now by plonking the tour dates below. Auf Wiedersehen!
ALBUM LAUNCH SHOW:
Saturday 29 November – Howler, Melbourne
with Lowtide + Queens Head
FIND OUT MORE ON