Robots in Suits and the Mercedes-Benz 123 Series

Back in ’76, at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Ted Mountainé discovered the Mercedes-Benz 123 series for the first time, which marked the beginning of a long-lasting love affair.

Unlike his band leader peers, who often went for flashy luxury cars, Mountainé appreciated the solid and unassuming aura of a car that looked more like a car than any other car he had ever seen, the new Mercedes 200.

And in many ways this mobile entity, practically lifted directly from Plato’s aspatial, atemporal Forms into the physical world by pure German industrial strength, became a symbol of the no-nonsense, utilitarian easy listening landscape that shaped a certain part (elevators, mostly) of the following decades with Ted Mountainé behind the steering wheel.

Unfortunately, due to the temporal whims of the space-time continuum, most people reading these words will not be aware of Mountainé’s moderate reputation in some of our parallel worlds.

But we are lucky enough to be able to present a few of his sound recordings here, to showcase the subliminal audial presence he commanded in some other – choice, naturally – worlds. Here is Robots in Suits, a musical taster from another 1983.

Floating in Space (Cocktails) ’90

Ted Mountainé says: “Hey, put on your retro sports jacket and get in my spaceship for a bit of action before we watch another episode of “30something”!”

We’ll bring you three drinks and the tab in the spacebar. Not because we’re cheap, but because we’re in constant search of a joke that’ll make your toes curl.

This is a massive undertaking – an intergalactic smooth jazz ride with too many references to mention. Sadly, it was recorded before we famously reevaluated and fine-tuned our mixing philosophy (essentially: “learned to mix”), so even though we stand by the music 100%, mistakes were made in the sound engineering department. This causes a certain lack of overall energy during the proceedings, and some rather embarrassing balancing issues. But it’s still an enjoyable ride.

Waiting for Summer

Ted Mountainé is, as we know, currently occupied with his career as a spokesperson for the International Association of Introverted Jet-Setters Living in the Past (IAoIJSLitP). The micro-organizational aspect of this engagement is profound in its minimality, simply due to the mere nature of all the (incredibly annoying) people occupied with these matters over the years.

It has tested the patience of many a regular jet-setter who has accidentally wound up on our particular yacht, as it were. We won’t easily forget the year when Leonard Bernstein unwittingly found himself as the Jet Set Miniature Assembly Ceremony Master, haha.

Regardless, a couple of years ago, Ted took some time off to create this exciting montage consisting of scenery from his beautiful life and music. He didn’t really know where to stop, though (a common affliction for time travelers), so the video and the tune goes on for far too long – which we suppose only proves what we suspected long ago: You can get too much of a good thing.

But Ted stands rigorously by his work: “If every man and woman stepped out of their sepia-toned lives and took a break from their generally depressing world views, and picked up some cues from the happy disposition of cardboard people in escapist entertainment and advertising instead, I honestly think the earth would be a better place for everyone,” he claims.

So, until we meet again, please enjoy this little bundle of overbaked joy from the Ted Mountainé Orchestra, for as long as you can take it.

Shaoncé vs. Foucault: The Use of Pleasure

Pop darling Shaoncé has revealed details about her new album scheduled for release in early 2012. After the tremendous success of her previous album, Shock, people are curious to see if she can live up to the hype — but judging by yesterday’s press conference in Paris there is no need for concern. Sporting an outfit that would make Lady Gaga proud, the young singer won the world press over with her sharp wit and acute observations. Her warm, conversational style created a unique and friendly atmosphere, and even old codgers like myself had to let down our professional guard a bit to enjoy the exhilarating intelligence and humanity of the encounter.

Produced by the people behind the hit tv series Glee soundtrack, the title of her new album is The Use of Pleasure. It’s primarily based on original texts by the French philosopher Michel Foucault, translated into English by acclaimed American songwriter Diane Warren, occasionally assisted by ms. Shaoncé herself.

On her new album, Shaoncé is particularly preoccupied with Foucault’s disassociation from the structuralist movement and how it has affected what she perceives as impotent principles of application in computational semiotics. This is underscored by the extensive use of FM synthesis and autotuning. “I would never use autotune under normal circumstances,” she says. “But for this album we really had no choice — there is no better way to represent the concepts of artificial intelligence, computer-human interaction — all that stuff that we’re dealing with on the album. So you may say that autotune is the recurring theme here, a kind of non-musical leitmotif.”

I asked her if this meta-perspective might not get lost on her audience in a musical landscape where autotune is, per se, the default. “But, you see, what you’re saying, that is the beauty of it. No one knows for certain whether it’s one thing or the other. That’s my point — our ears are so accustomed to autotune that we don’t question it anymore. It’s the same with semiotics. We are so entrenched in one way of thinking — the wrong way, I’d say — that we can’t really see what’s right anymore.”

The Use of Pleasure will be released on EMI in 2012.