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A Man From The Future
July 24, 2014 12:30 AM   Subscribe

Pet Shop Boys, still going strong after over 30 years, and still as inventive as ever, debuted their "orchestral pop biography in eight parts for electronics, orchestra, choir, and narrator" at the BBC Proms last night. A Man From The Future [audio only, BBC3 recording, available for 4 weeks, 1h55m] is an exploration of the life of Alan Turing. The performance includes Chrissie Hynde performing classic PSB accompanied by a full orchestra in the first half, and the premiere of AMFTF as the second half.
posted by hippybear (24 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ah, I missed putting in, the orchestrations for the Chrissie Hynde performance were done by Angelo Badalamenti.
posted by hippybear at 12:35 AM on July 24 [4 favorites]


Quick note for any other confused Brits reading this post: the recording is from BBC Radio 3. BBC Three hasn't suddenly got tasteful.
posted by garlicsmack at 1:39 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


Hold on, please. Do I have to? What have I done to deserve this? Nothing has been proved by this minimal sodom and Gomorrah show, which should have actually been titled "lessons in being boring." Heard it at the theater Thursday and I found it so hard to listen to the ego music that I made my excuses and left. It's shameless music for boys.

That's my impression.
posted by Ratio at 1:40 AM on July 24 [6 favorites]


I understand why they do it, but I wish things like this weren't delivered as two-hour uninterrupted chunks of streaming audio. It's rare that I have two hours in a solid block to sit and really listen to something while connected to the Internet; something I could take offline, broken into chapters, would be ideal for my (I suspect not uncommon) segmented life.
posted by Shepherd at 2:47 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


after over 30 years

*Moans quietly*
posted by Segundus at 2:50 AM on July 24 [6 favorites]


Thanks for this hippybear; I look forward to it!
posted by pointystick at 5:01 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Oh, wow, I can't wait to listen to this.
posted by marginaliana at 6:09 AM on July 24


Shepherd - it's a matter of resources, and the BBC's having the life throttled out of it through cuts at the moment. Somewhat miraculous that iPlayer is as good as it is. and that the Proms can produce such a huge slug of live music for free (well, the BBC costs UK citizens around 2 pence/hr; those listening outside the UK really are getting something for nothing).

If the alternative was 2 hours of programming in chapters with with adverts, would you prefer it?

The Proms are well worth exploring, btw, if you haven't encountered them before. An absolutely massive slab of live classic, contemporary, well known and obscure music. The one immediately before the PSBs, for example, is largely Indian music (Jasdeep Singh Degun) with some poetry and jazz guitar, and it works really well.
posted by Devonian at 6:14 AM on July 24


(well, the BBC costs UK citizens around 2 pence/hr; those listening outside the UK really are getting something for nothing).

As are UK citizens who don't own televisions and don't stream things in real time. (IIRC, you don't need a television licence to stream iPlayer content after the fact, though there have been proposals that this should be changed.)
posted by acb at 6:24 AM on July 24


I was in the audience for this last night. Really great to see it live. It's only £5 to stand in the Royal Albert Hall for all the concerts in the Proms programme - well worth heading along to if you're in the London area while the concert series is on.
posted by MykReeve at 6:55 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


The Proms are amazing. But even though I quite like PSB to an extent, I have no idea what they (or other BBC regulars like Paloma Faith) are doing there. There's more than enough opportunities to see these people elsewhere.
posted by peterkins at 7:33 AM on July 24


There's nothing wrong with the Proms hosting famous performers. It does everyone good - the PSBs have a high profile platform for a serious commission, the Proms get better known to those who might never consider classical music as interesting, there's most certainly an audience, and in a two-month festival of music there's lots of room for all types.

Just looking at the rest of the concerts in the Late Night Prom slot that the PSBs kicked off, there's Steve Reich, an 80th birthday concert for Peter Maxwell Davies, the Monteverdi Choir and Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, a recreation of a 1930s Battle Of The Bands between Count Basie and Dike Ellington, Rameau... and this is just one strand among many, a new one at that.

The Proms exist to get as much good music out there to as many people as possible, whether they're long-time fans or brand new, and that means mixing it up.
posted by Devonian at 8:14 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


As are UK citizens who don't own televisions and don't stream things in real time. (IIRC, you don't need a television licence to stream iPlayer content after the fact, though there have been proposals that this should be changed.)

That's a logical 'and' BTW. You can own a TV and not pay the license fee as long as you don't watch any live broadcast TV. I paid my TV license free for several years despite never watching live TV because I thought it was good value anyway ( Western liberal propaganda and all that) right up until the Beeb decided to engage in device manufacture selection favouring the apple crowd in the early iplayer days while I used a modded xbox classic.

Once I cancelled they would occasionally send someone around to ask about whether I watched live TV and they stopped even that when I let them in and showed them I disconnected my tv from the antenna.

I'd put the Beeb on the top five things I miss about living in England.
posted by srboisvert at 8:44 AM on July 24


even though I quite like PSB to an extent, I have no idea what they (or other BBC regulars like Paloma Faith) are doing there. There's more than enough opportunities to see these people elsewhere.

Well, this isn't PSB doing a PSB concert. It's a modern classical work written for orchestra and choir. It's even less PSB than their score for Battleship Potemkin, because it doesn't feature Neil singing. It's even less PSB than their ballet because it's much more orchestral, much less electronica than that.

Chris does do some electronic additions to the orchestra, and Neil is singing in the choir, but really, the orchestra and chorus are front and center here, along with the narrator.

I'm curious about the staging. Those who were there -- were there projections or something going on? How was this all presented?
posted by hippybear at 9:12 AM on July 24


I hope the PSB record this and put it out as a film/album at some point, or that the BBC uses the stream to make something saleable.
posted by immlass at 9:33 AM on July 24


Ah, Audio Hijack Pro, I love you so!

(It's only a 128kbps stream, but it'll do until they release a CD version.)
posted by cstross at 9:44 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Just when you least expect it, just what you least expect.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:52 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


I understand why they do it, but I wish things like this weren't delivered as two-hour uninterrupted chunks of streaming audio.

You can pause streaming and come back to the page and iplayer will remember your last position.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:19 AM on July 24


iPlayer will even remember your last position across a page reload.

It's a surprisingly robust player.
posted by hippybear at 11:21 PM on July 24


I'm a few minutes into A Man From the Future and finding the libretto overlay of text on top of the music a little bit strange. I think if I were reading this text (from the biography) I wouldn't think anything of it, but aloud it feels like it doesn't quite work. It's too... effusive? Hmmm. The music is incredible, though.
posted by marginaliana at 8:25 AM on July 25


Well, this isn't PSB doing a PSB concert.

No, but as you say the first half was all PSB material (albeit sung by Chrissie Hynde) and not a modern classical piece. That's probably what the audience went for.

There's nothing wrong with the Proms hosting famous performers. It does everyone good - the PSBs have a high profile platform for a serious commission, the Proms get better known to those who might never consider classical music as interesting, there's most certainly an audience, and in a two-month festival of music there's lots of room for all types.

I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with having famous performers - it's a question of genre. But every year the Proms is bringing in more and more non-classical nights (like the Urban prom from last year). I don't get the oft-trotted out notion that somehow things like this get people interested in classical music. They do probably bring in more revenue than a night of Hindemith, which is more to the point as the BBC comes under increasing economic pressure. And I'd rather young composers get more serious commissions than the PSBs, who possibly could manage without the BBC's help. In the past, you had composers like Tim Souster bringing in the Soft Machine for an evening which probably ruffled a lot of feathers, but things seem to be taking an increasingly conservative tone and drawn from a pool of BBC approved talent only (expect a Jools Holland led Prom featuring Elbow, Paul Weller and The Manic Street Preachers next year).
posted by peterkins at 11:20 AM on July 25


That's probably what the audience went for.

Highly unlikely. PSB has been doing promo about this new classical piece for about a year now, and the buzz about it has been building steadily for a couple of months, at least. Their public showings of Battleship Potemkin had massive attendance, too, and featured zero old PSB material.
posted by hippybear at 6:03 PM on July 25


Reviews are coming in:

Attitude magazine

Evening Standard

The Telegraph
posted by hippybear at 6:06 PM on July 25


The Guardian

The Independent
posted by hippybear at 8:01 PM on July 25


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