Retrofuturism Thread

What about a thread dedicated to retrofuturistic music?

What are your favourite ones ?

Soundtrack to ‘Back to the Future’?

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Tha Future (Is Now)


Guitar in the Space Age

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I think it would help if someone explained what is retrofuturisic music for those like me who have no idea!




old/past visions of the future. for me the term showed up around 20 years ago, but I never quite bought into it.

If I remember it can include currently made art that builds on old visions of the future.

think cyberpunk, steampunk, dieselpunk and probably even more punks that concentrate on certain ages of works.

I wish I could, but I don’t understand what these genres (?) are either.

It must be an age thing, because for me ‘punk’ is ‘punk’ and something (with a few exceptions) to be largely avoided.

Mind you, I do like a (little) bit of Kraftwerk occasionally.

Retrofuturism is a loose term to describe styles which imagine old or past visions of the future.
William Gibson’s story ‘The Gernsback Continuum’ is a classic and plays with Hugo Gernsback’s pulp s-f which imagined a future of ray-guns and rocket ships.

If you know Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials people dress in an Edwardian fashion, there are no cars or fixed winged aircraft, but there are Zeppelins. There’s no electricity, or atomic power, but ‘anbaric’ engines. (From the electrostatic properties of amber).

Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis continues to be an influence on images of the future (as well as on Kraftwerk).

Uwe Schütte has a book on Kraftwerk which uses retrofuturism as a term. (I know Uwe, but haven’t read this). Google Books has his chapter on Kraftwork in German Pop Music: A Companion.


How about Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds: the New Generation 2012 remake of his 1978 album, which I didn’t know. 220px-WayneWOTW-TNG

I had googled, and looked at Wikipedia, but was left bemused as to there being a retrofuturisrptic musical style, or musical theme, other than possibly, for example, playing old music with modern instruments, e.g. Switched on Bach to, say, Beatles played with synthesisers (examples escaping me). But that seems the wrong way round: to be retrofuturistic perhaps it should more be, say, A band in the style of the Beatles with only the instruments available in the 60s playing electronic music or playing the latest pop music heavily featuring vocoders. .???

Seems to me to be a visual concept rather than a musical one. Perhaps the OP can give some examples.

Vocoders, yes, or a Theremin. I remember Jonty Harrison at University of Birmingham in 1980 using tape recorders to sample a bunch of keys and demonstrating what you could do with the sound. He does not, I think use synthesisers. So deliberately using analogue equipment to play with a futuristic sound world that would be anachronistic. Of course even in 1980 musique concrete was a deliberate choice to explore something the French had done in earlier generations. I don’t think that Delia Derbyshire or Daphne Oram would be retrofuturist composers, because they used the most modern kit available to them at the time. I think there’s got to be something post-modern to to it. Jonty Harrison ‘Pair Impact’ on You Tube.
Like Kraftwerk watching this done live can be fascinating and pleasurable. I don’t think Stockhausen or Eno are retrofuturist. But am interested to hear musical examples.

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Not that I have given it much thought - but what is retrofuturism?
1950s/60s and 70s popular culture tried to make us think that the future was something to feel optimistic and aspirational about.
Since the 1980s and to present day, the future seems something that will never happen for most and even something to fear.
Perhaps retrofuturism is a post post modern kitsch channel to bring back a playful sense of optimism, I don’t know, and even whether it makes any difference.
Since originality is such a scarce commodity these days, I fear this is another victim of someone throwing a bunch of genres and themes into the random probability drive generator.

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How about B52s ‘Planet Claire’ 1978 but music and lyrics play with 1950s themes. B2s Planet claire

She came from Planet Claire
I knew she came from there
She drove a Plymouth Satellite
A-faster than the speed of light

Planet Claire has pink air
All the trees are red
No one ever dies there
No one has a head

Some say she’s from Mars
Or one of the seven stars that shine after three-thirty in the morning
Well, she isn’t!

She came from Planet Claire…


Recently, I wrote a piano suite for the Hyperion Cantos in the manner of retro-futurism.


Some of us don’t have Tidal accounts

Have Qobuz only. The title Hyperion Cantos suggests the science- fiction series by Dan Simmons. But what does in the manner of retro-futurism mean? A science-fiction theme?