Wednesday 13 January 2021

Goodbye Flash

A little late to jump on the bandwagon but I thought I'd write a bit about Flash finally being made defunct. It was a cornerstone of the web for years, though it was on a slow decline over the last few years. I'm of that age where I have very specific memories tied to Flash - there was a time on the web where animations and things weren't hosted on Twitter or wherever but were individual webpages with .swfs.

It goes beyond that too, as I'm working my way through republishing all the old content on this site, I'm having to fix old YouTube and Soundcloud players as they're Flash based (and some of the tracks no longer exist which pains the archivist in me). Which brings me to the theme of this post: songs/artists and so on that I would not have discovered if it wasn't for Flash. Let's get stuck in.

I was planning to start a little self-indulgent with a bit of Eurobeat courtesy of m.o.v.e but Japanese copyright means it can't be embedded. I will still talk about it though, what happens when you make a Eurobeat mix of some J-Pop? Well, it takes something that was already upbeat and injects it with pure sugar to make it even faster. I unironically love the choruses on here and as is always the case with Eurobeat, that final key change in the final quarter is brilliant. This track was actually the inspiration for this post as I found it via a very specific piece of Flash history. More on that in just a little bit!

Things stay Japanese for the time being though. A lot of stuff I found via Flash was in that vein, partly because the circles I was hanging out with were into that kind of thing as was the style at the time. I understand that can be a negative for some folks, (in hindsight the Caramelldansen memes heavily foreshadowed my love of Eurobeat) but these trance mixes are fairly free of any blunder-years worthy moments, aside from sounding very of-the-era. Compiled on the fantastically titled Cyber Trance Presents Ayu Trance, a bunch of the big names in trance get together to remix the works of Ayumi Hamasaki. Airwave's mix is one of my favourites, tapping directly into that euphoria loving part of my brain. The version on the compilation is shorter than the EP release, the version on the EP dedicates around 4 minutes of it's 8 minute runtime to build up, which I get is sort of the point of Trance but sometimes I just need that instant grat you know what I mean?.

An extra special shoutout to Ishkur's original guide to electronic music too, which is the source of the image above. Apart from being a really neat thing to mess around with is also a fairly comprehensive guide to all things electronic, with audio examples too! Ishkur's come out with an updated one that's even bigger and more up to date, but the original will always have a special place in my heart - Ishkur has some pretty strong opinions on certain genres, and while we may not agree on everything I respect the dedication. It was also a great resource if you were looking to explore genres outside your usual wheelhouse, which is partially what inspired this post.

The 'Electroclash' section - labelled 'Synthtron' by Ishkur and cynically subtitled with a million and one variations is a really good cross section if you're looking to get into the genre - the usual suspects are there: Felix Da Housecat, ADULT., Fischerspooner and Miss Kittin. Track one in the list of examples is Ladytron's Playgirl. Both I and the Press at the time have gotten a bit of flak for daring to give them the electroclash label and I can see that argument, they are collaterally lumped into that group because they were coming out with slightly retro-inspired electronic around the same time. Still, I will say that yes while 604 doesn't really fit the label 100%, it does come close sometimes - as seen with He Took Her To A Movie, a cover of Kraftwerk's The Model in all but name and on Playgirl with it's sligthly melancholic lyrics and stoic delivery it's not hard to draw comparisons to Miss Kittin and the like.

Likewise, tracing the roots back using the guide, I was introduced to a whole new world of things that were supremely up my alley - specifically in the 'French Pop' section. I was partially aware of some artists here, like Jean-Jacques Perrey but probably would never have found something like Girlscout on my own. I've said similar before but when played back to back like this, it only makes it all the more obvious that the 'electroclash' scene as a whole was essentially just a New Wave style revival with more up to date tech. This is a tune that will get stuck in my head once every few months and just have to give it a listen or two. That chorus is catchy enough on its own, never mind the little 10 second loop of it that's used on the guide.

I could go on and on forever about the guide but I'll cut myself off here. For what it's worth the guide is still live for the time being, it worked just now on my browser but I did have to tweak some settings to get Flash to work so no guarantees. If you're reading this in the future and Flash is definitely 100% dead - there is also a Flash Archive of tons of animations and the like out there with an emulator to run them, and Ishkur's original guide is included on there if you'd like to explore!

And as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


1 comment:

Radu said...

I used to do a lot of Flash back in the days. It started as a hobby and I ended up spending numerous late nights with keyframes and animations. If it wasn't for that and ActionScript, I would have never started to read about the web technologies. Now I am javascript developer doing all sorts (web, server, crypto and AI) and I owe everything to my first cracked Adobe Flash.

Thank you for your blog posts. I am avid follower for years (more than 6) and I enjoy listening and reading your articles, great taste