Monday, 16 November 2009

23 Skidoo

23 Skidoo, American slang phrase, refers to leaving quickly or being forced to leave quickly. Popular usage in the 1920s, exact origins uncertain.

Some may scoff at the notion of Canadian film. To those I recommend watching Atom Egoyan's The Adjuster, David Cronenberg's The Fly, Vincenzo Natali's Cypher, Don McKellar's Last Night and Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg. Canadian cinema is generally more auteur- than star-driven, having more in common with that of Europe than its counterpart south of the border. If you're still scoffing, leave now. I direct those who have stayed to the website of the National Film Board of Canada, which hosts an archive of documentaries, animations and 'alternative dramas'. One such archived film is Julian Biggs' 23 Skidoo, made in 1964. The film is composed of footage of a deserted downtown Montreal, where objects and sounds echo the presence of recently-departed inhabitants.

Formed in London in 1979, 23 Skidoo were an post-punk band in the vein of This Heat and Cabaret Voltaire. It is surprising that their place in musical history is not as recognised as it should be, given their meld of industrialisms and pan-global influences (funk, dub, hip-hop, afrobeat, gamelan), which saw them being proteges of Genesis P-Orridge while also appearing at the first WOMAD Festival (a set which is documented on one side of The Culling Is Coming LP). It is widely held that Block Rockin' Beats by the Chemical Brothers pilfered the bassline from 23 Skidoo's Coup, as played by 'Sketch' Martin (who according to some internet sources, is the uncle of 'The British Will Smith'-turned-bankrupted goon Richard Blackwood).

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