Technostalgia in New Recording Projects by the 1980s ‘Dunedin Sound’ Band The Chills

This article explores the confluence of nostalgic discourses about popular music and recording and production in practice. It draws on the authors’ involvement in recent recording projects by the band The Chills, whose 1980’s and early 1990’s outputs are credited as being highly influential in the indie rock genre. The article offers new perspectives on the broader context through which technical decisions are made in recording processes, and articulates how these decisions can be understood as compromises that reflect tensions between nostalgic ideological rhetoric, and the demands of production practices in contemporary commercial contexts.

Technostalgia and the Cry of the Lonely Recordist

Timothy Taylor wrote of a “scientific imaginary” (Taylor, 2001), a period in mid 20th century culture seemingly obsessed with futurism, as the world rebuilt itself following the second world war. For Taylor and others, the utopian and dystopian visions of the era’s literature, films, and music say more about their time than the futures they portended. But this reflection of the contemporary in dreams of the future was inadvertent, an unconscious residue of the past clinging to the bright shiny objects of the science fiction age. The science fiction of current pop culture now looks to the past with a sad, longing eye – a tacit acknowledgement that the best is not yet to come; it is already come and gone. Note the overt nostalgia at the core of Christopher Nolan’s recent film, Interstellar, a movie whose central conceit is that only the past can save the future.