My days of computer gaming are long gone. My best friend here in Spain, James, spends a fair bit of his lockdown time existing in alternative worlds as he attempts to complete his latest adventure. Sometimes, he’ll tell me about the mission he’s on and, whilst I try not to be rude, I can feel my eyes glaze over and my brain go to mush as I find out about the most recent ‘boss’ encounter. Fortunately, James has lots of other interests and we’re now more likely to chat about those.
But I did play computer games in younger days. It’s a mark of how much things have progressed that my first console (a cheap version of an Atari) basically allowed me to play what has become a retro bat and ball classic. In later years, I progressed to a ZX Spectrum and then when Ollie, my son, was growing up, I dabbled a bit in Wii’s and early PlayStation’s in an attempt to seem like a cool Dad. I failed badly.
I do however know what a sidescrolling game is. And so when Slut Magic’s press release for ‘Trauma Queen’ popped into my mail box with talk of their love of ‘hitting “Continue” even when it’s time to sleep’, I wasn’t completely disconnected. Besides, who could avoid being enticed by the character of the Trauma Queen—”the summonable patron saint of vengeance against rapists, abusers, and cowards of all kinds” – as they get invoked to “beat the boss and move on to the next level. Forever.”
Trauma Queen is the opening track and title of Slut Magic’s album that was released towards the end of 2020. It’s worth giving the Brooklyn based band a full listen should you get the chance; their political punk credentials come to the fore in a glorious scuzzy swathe of radical, off-kilter, anger (and humour).But, definitely do make time for Trauma Queen this morning. It has a tone of dark cabaret, like something that Amanda Palmer would be involved in.
I ask Slut Magic what plans they have for 2021 and get the best of responses back in return. “Sooooooo, we’re gonna be careful with this question.”, they say. “On November 6, 2019, Patch Philly asked us what our plans were for 2020. We literally said, “We think we’re one of the four bands of the apocalypse. So maybe the apocalypse is in 2020?” With that in mind: Our plans for 2021 are to be the finale music of capitalism, and the prelude to a just, anti-racist, eco-centric social order where the constructs of gender, the existence of prisons, and the need for nuclear weapons are as passé as Smash Mouth. Also we’re gonna do some 90s covers. We have a sludgy cover of Spice Girls’ “Say You’ll Be There” coming on Valentine’s weekend, perfect for brooding with your cat, or worshipping your vibrator.”
I’ve had a sneak-preview listen to that cover version and I’m happy to confirm that it works (when perhaps it shouldn’t).
And I’ll continue to listen whilst elsewhere around the World the computer games keep on scrolling.