Sunday, February 5, 2012

Getting There => 1988: Budapest by Blimp

Thomas Dolby: Budapest by Blimp


I’m sure many people, when they think of music of the 80s, think first of what was called at the time synth-pop. Many hits of the decade were characterized by a singer with a chilly sound singing over an entirely electronic backdrop. Much of this music was very effective, expressing the alienation that many felt at the time. Perhaps that is why the style is still very much with us. But Thomas Dolby used the same tools to very different effect, and he still does. Dolby mixes electronics with more “organic” instruments, to create textures that can shudder or ripple as the song progresses. Budapest by Blimp is a song that I had to post on the day of the Superbowl, (because of the blimp, of course), and it is a perfect example of what I mean. After a brief intro, the band lays down the basic groove, and Dolby begins what at first appears to be a song of romantic longing. But, as it goes along, new sounds and tones, (and languages!), enter the mix, and the song evokes history. In the end, we have a song that seems to me to be about a pair of lovers who are torn apart by war. From an airship drifting gently above, things look calm enough. But the narrator knows what a closer inspection on the ground would reveal: the intrusion of history and the ravages of war. That’s what I hear anyway. You can also read Thomas Dolby‘s explanation of the song on his website.

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