On 18th December 2011 a very credible source, who will remain anonymous, sent me a track. A track made in the late 90's. By Tony Mansfield. This was not some wishy-washy Italian disco-pop track which happened to have Tony M in the vicinity. It was a true Tony Mansfield track, recorded by him. Made by him. A previously unheard, previously unmentioned, previously unknown track - but undoubtedly the work of the great man himself. And, though "different", I like it a lot. So I shared it with Richard M, and here are his thoughts...
Those of us who have been fans of NM for over 30 years share one thing in common. Patience. We have waited and waited some more for any shred of new New Musik to emerge. And we have been disappointed. For many of us, the two bonus tracks from the Anywhere cassette have been the only 'new' tracks we have heard by the band this last 30+ years, since the rarity eluded so many for so long before the days of the internet.
Of course, TM's productions have kept the interest up for a lot of us, but by all accounts it seems he is no longer in the production business. Which is very sad for the likes of us, although to be fair his production trademarks were more diluted as the years went on, losing much of the obvious NM sound and style which was often very evident and much loved in his earlier productions.
So, it came as a shock when right out of the blue in late-2011 a fan of NM (sorry – no names!) emailed a 'new' TM track to this website's owner! No details about the track were divulged other than it was a few years old. Since so little was known about it, this added considerable intrigue and mystery... One possibly deluded theory I have is that other members of the band may have had some involvement... But we just don't know! And I didn't tell you that, OK? ;-)
It was with similar feelings of anticipation and excitement experienced previously when a new NM/TM track was in front of me, ready to play for the very first time. Only difference was it involved a couple of clicks of a mouse to play rather than a tactile and frankly much more rewarding physical sensation of a putting on a disc... Right then.
..Sorry – what was I saying?
...a man's voice says calmly, and a spacious floating synth pad descends, immediately setting an engaging mood . A female voice then speaks another sentence, as though asked to give a personal view about a forthcoming change from the present century to the next one: ".. I don't know if there's going to be any sudden changes...". The sentence ends and a dance beat drives the track. Not a heavy beat but enough to give an energetic sound.
From the off I can hear this is something a bit different. It's not a song as such, so it's unlike the old NM, sung by Tony. A third speaker with a clear London dialect gives his succinct opinion on the impact of technology and computers in contemporary society. Ah – a welcome nod to the Cockney dialects on 'Living By Numbers', perhaps?
As the track progresses every clue suggests it was made in the very late 1990's, most likely 1999. This becomes clear very soon through the people's descriptions, seemingly as though asked in the street for their opinions on the imminent new Millennium. The clean dance beat never detracts whilst these voices give their opinions and fears of entering the new era, spoken in everyday terms and describing aspects of the modern world from technology to war, to third world poverty. And peace. Yes, classic New Musik themes perhaps best summed up: "If only we could just all get on together."
The vocabulary is straightforward yet captivating and in front of the music which serves to cleverly link the 'talks' rather than be at the fore. We the listener know nothing about the people of these voices, except they appear to be everyday people. Similar in that regard to the voices who told us "They don't want your name" twenty years earlier.
Let's be clear though, this isn't old NM. The musik is not the main feature; that is the interaction of the subject set to the backdrop of musik. There is no infectious melody and the musik perhaps sounds more generic than it once did (although elements like the synth pads, structure and clean production are unmistakably TM). The voices are the song's identity. But that is not really the point here. I expect some may feel disappointed by this track. But even I accept we are where we are and things changed a lot over the twenty year period. Except perhaps human nature, and that's the key.
So as I listen to this track after familiarity has set in, I can honestly say it's good. It's good because it doesn't simply try to emulate the old NM formula and it comes at you from a slightly different angle. Yet, at the same time, the exact same NM themes are right there: man's inability to cope in the modern technological age, the feeling of being out of one's depth. And what a shame we just can't all get on together... Give it time to work its magic, and it will.
So as to my comments suggesting this may actually be a 'new' NM track rather than just a TM track? Well – and I am probably wrong here – all I will say is that at least one of the voices sounds a little like one of the other members of the band, maybe twenty years older. I will leave it at that and let you decide!
I like this track a lot. To me it is as good as anything I would have hoped for. Just a bit more up to date and different in approach. I appreciate it for what it is. I hope you will too.
...sorry, what was I saying?
Yeeeah, I mean I don't know if there's gonna be er, any sudden changes but I suppose in the minds of people... there will be a change cos everyone's gonna be aware this is, this is the year 2000. And with all the build up to it over the last, y'know, particularly over the last year but over the last sort of ten, twenty years. I think there, there will -- it will feel different.
There'll be a massive technology bang... gone mad technology when you got the -- computers, and er -- it's accessible to more people now than what it was in er, say the erm... the eighties.
Don't think they're gonna start making flying cars or things like that, I -- y'know. But... y'know, holidays to Mars – that would be good wouldn't it?
Erm, I personally -- sort of think that the er -- there isn't gonna be any change, cos I think things are just gonna be as they were.
Actually I do -- you do get a feeling of some impending doom as all these things happen in the world.
(Muffled speech from part of the following quote)
--Yeah, a lot of fear about. I, I, see that the -- there's a lot of expectancy isn't there, and, er, it's sort of Millennium people seem to think that suddenly, one day, everything changes and I don't believe it's gonna be like that.
It would be lovely if everybody got on with everybody else regardless of what religion, or colour. Hopefully in the new Millennium, er, we'll have less... wars, or 'conflicts' as they call 'em -- around the world. And er... with any luck things will be a bit more peaceful.
All this home shopping. Y'know, computer, internet and all that. No, no. What yer gonna do, just sit in yer house day and night? You are ain't yer! No, not while the sun is still shining.
I mean it scare – it is quite frightening what they can do, I mean when you sort of see how, y'know, satellites can look down onto a road and look down and you wonder how much... you are being watched, and I know that -- I'm sure we're not told by the -- y'know the government or whatever half of what's going on I mean whether you believe in sort of aliens landing or whatever I mean I 'm just sure that ha, I'm just sure that if some of those things are exposed it would... it would blow some peoples minds out! – I mean I've got no idea what those things would be.
I, er, hate to see pictures of people starving on the TV, and... Especially in places like Africa and India and in places like that, where there's not enough food, and... I think that in this day and age it's quite sad that er ... we're sort of still seeing those situations. I suppose at the end of the day I would, I er, would like to see that completely.. y'know, eradicated, but... it doesn't depend on the cost of the medicine. Erm, the medicine is just there.
Erm I would like to see – it sounds clichéd to say so but I would like to see peace, and ... 'cos -- but then, peace, you'd have to sort of elaborate in on that cos you can't just suddenly cast peace over everyone!
Going into... the 21st century, ??? looking at bins to get a bit of grub, y'know. I think that's quite sad. Give other people some grub (?), hahaha!
Replacing... the system of, of, of money, itself, which is evil, that would be – cos that's what everyone gets so screwed up about everywhere, everywhere in the world. So, if we could just take away that.
There is far more interest in the supernatural than there ever has been before. Now that takes, you know, both sides, as, you know, as there's the good side of it and there's the bad side of it. And a lot of people are delving into things because they just want to know.
I would hope that... there'll be a sort of, er, a worldwide feeling of... y'know, we've really got to get our act together now, and then, hopefully – cos there'll be a lot of looking at history I think, around the Millennium, looking at the past particularly but looking at the last century. So what I would hope would, would be, that there is like a... a unified feeling amongst the world leaders to say well that was barbaric and that was then, and this is now, and let us look at how we can resolve our, our differences, without, without fighting, y'know, how we can sit round the negotiating table more. Well that's what I would hope, but, I doubt if that will happen. I think things will probably carry on er as they are.
<I have removed the link to the track on request of band representatives as there were copyright issues, apologies but it is important this site operates within boundaries that are comfortable to those directly connected to the band.>