Nerd Culture and Guacamole Rage
Have you ever experienced the excitement of rolling a critical hit? Do you vehemently defend Spock over any other Star Trek character? (If you don’t, you’re a dumbass) Have you stopped going to comic-con because it was too crowded?
Wait, what . . . ?
What happened to nerds? At what point did being a total dickweed loser become cool? Growing up all I knew was that Dungeons and Dragons was a demonic game played only by those who worshipped Satan. As I aged all I knew was that the same game was only for closet dwelling, sweaty virgins. But when I hit my 20’s I learned that if you play Magic: The Gathering on weekends at the local comic book shop, you’re probably going to get laid — and you don’t even have to win.
Somewhere along the line nerd culture underwent a radical shift. Nowadays every single film in theatres has to do with superheroes, regardless of whether or not that superhero deserved a film (see: Green Lantern. Seriously, nobody gave a FUCK about that dude until the movie came out, and now I’ve got a friend with a tattoo of G.L. on his arm). Comic-cons became a happening place for people to go, hang out, and meet potential sexual partners because suddenly the clientele shifted from mouth-breathing dice-rollers to “OH BRO NICE BATMAN OUTFIT” “YEAH BRO CHRISTIAN BALE IS THE ONLY BATMAN”. What the hell. (Disclaimer: Christian Bale is a kickass batman)
I’m going to take a moment here to acknowledge my own inferiority when it comes to being a dork: I didn’t grow up with video games (besides Super Mario Bros every summer at my cousin’s place) and didn’t watch Star Wars until I’d hit college. But I did grow up faithfully viewing Star Trek IX: William Shatner’s Amazing Girdle with my dad. I was raised on Isaac Asimov, Clifford Simak, A.E. Van Vogt, Robert Heinlein, Edgar Rice Burroughs (to name only a few of my child/adulthood science fiction authors). I am a Golden Age of Science Fiction nerd, and I’m fucking proud of it. I have some small nerd street cred, in my own way (if you want me to post pictures of my Edgar Rice Burroughs collection with the matching Ace edition covers, I can).
Why then do I feel animosity towards every good-looking girl who has a tattoo of a lightsaber on her index finger? Why do I rage against bros with trendy haircuts who sport Darth Vader/Batman/The Walking Dead t-shirts?
It’s because I hate them.
I hate them in the same way any appropriated culture hates the appropriating majority. They took the most basic, accessible aspects of my beloved, exclusive culture and made it cool. They made it hip. They made it trendy. They didn’t give any love to the history, the subcultures of the misunderstood and rejected, the true underlying culture. They only gave love to the most successful, the most celebrated, the most popular of nerd culture, and made it mainstream. They appropriated all nerds held dear. Legend of Zelda, Star Wars, comic books — you name it. If it was a decent success 20 – 30 years ago, you can bet it’s going to be displayed on every hipster’s arm today. And don’t even get me started on Lord of the Rings. (Peter Jackson is a hack!! rabblerabblerabblerabble)
However, there are still things that are truly underground, truly nerdy. They’re few and far between, but they exist. We’ve all got some things which we cherish that we only show to a select few, those who would understand the glory of having something totally killer that nobody knows about or truly appreciates besides us.
Well, my Toilet brethren, I am going to share with you today my little gem of music nerd culture that I only trust to people who understand. Have you raged with me about pop nerd culture? Good. Read on. Did you disagree, and softly rub your Heath Ledger Joker tattoo while feeling intense butthurt? Well, chances are that you haven’t read this far due to excessive rectal pains, but in case you have, go away. You don’t get to know.
I present to you: Magma. Not the shit that sits under the surface of the Earth, the 1970’s Zeuhl band. Don’t know what Zeuhl is? Magma invented that shit. Basically, it’s a style of music that comes from the brain of Magma mainman and musical mastermind Christian Vander. It’s a word from a language called “Kobaïan”, a language Vander created exclusively for his band. Vander put together a jazz fusion band, made up an entire storyline and language, and made kickass prog music. Zeuhl has now become a genre of music (big especially in Japan), but it’s all based off of what Magma was doing decades ago. I’ll give you an accessible track to start you on your Magma journey:
But they weren’t always high energy. The album Köhntarkösz showcased their classical influences in structure and arrangement, opting for longer song lengths and complicated compositions over their later Attahk.
Prog nerds are probably already rejoicing. But if you haven’t yet jumped on board the Magma train, listen to this song the entire way through. Watch Christian Vander (the drummer) go absolutely nuts on his gigantic fucking 70’s cymbals. Revel in the language you can’t understand. Rejoice in the groove that stays static long enough for you to understand what’s happening, and then changes. Love the second drummer’s mohawk/moustache/aviators combo. Embrace the poor quality audio, because it only enhances the performance. CRANK THIS SHIT LOUD, BECAUSE IT’S DOPE.
Still not convinced? Fuck you. Also, Death Grips nerds will like this little bit of trivia: the bass line in “De Futura” that comes in at 0:26 was sampled by Death Grips on their song “Known For It”. (For the record, I loved Magma before I knew Death Grips existed — it was one of the things that made me fall in love with them more. Gotta retain my nerd street cred here!)
So we all agree: Magma is kickass. Just don’t tell your bros, because pretty soon everyone’s going to have the Magma logo tattooed somewhere.