Instant Updates bring you up to speed without having to wait for the next full issue of SFATW. Sometimes they will cover an item that’s time-sensitive. Other times, like with this first one, they’ll be a brief follow-up to a topic in an a past issue.
In the January issue of SFATW we saw eight different pop music takes on the early German science fiction film Metropolis, from performers as diverse as Janelle Monáe, Kraftwerk, St. Vincent, and Brazilian metal band Sepultura.
Here’s another one for the list.
Years ago I fell in love with a dreamy song called “2300 Hawaii” (video embedded below), which I discovered on a well-curated shibuya-kei compilation called Sushi 4004. The song’s deliciously louche invitation “would you like a mai tai,” droning out over a tune that resembled sticky musical syrup, made it perfect for an afternoon of mixed drinks.
Just recently I finally tracked down most of the discography of the song’s creator, the brilliant Yoshinori Sunahara. “2300 Hawaii” came from his 1998 album Take Off and Landing, but as I was listening my way through his oevre I found that one of the songs on his 1995 album Crossover included yet another musical reference to Metropolis.
The song is called “MFRFM (Music For Robot For Music),” and it incorporates a narration by the great Forrest J. Ackerman, science fiction superfan, collector, editor, and booster, which includes the following:
Hello, this is Forrest Ackerman, Editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland and Spacemen…
I’ve been interested in robots for about 35 years and as a boy of ten, I had the thrilling experience of seeing the great film masterpiece “Metropolis” when it was brand new. It was a silent picture produced in the mid-twenties and the most unforgettable scene was when the robot was animated. When that smooth, streamlined mechanical humanoid figure was commanded to rise by Rotwang, its creator, and slowly, ever so slowly, an inch at a time, almost like Im-ho-tep, the Egyptian mummy dead 3700 years, the robot moved and came to life. You could almost hear the whirring as Rotwang, his artificial hand covered with a black leather glove, ordered his robotrix — it was in female form, you see — to rise from her chair and present her cold, steel hand to John Masterman, the master of Metropolis — the greatest city on earth in the year 2026. Twenty Twenty-six, hmm. Come to think of it, that’s quite a few years yet.
The video for “MFRFM (Music For Robot For Music)” is also embedded below. Enjoy!