The Sheffield-based studio’s striking brand of techno-futurism stylistically defined the mid-to-late 1990s much as Patrick Nagel’s “geisha deco” aesthetic did the early 1980s. This is in no small part due to the firm’s role in shaping the art direction of the WipEout franchise of videogames, there where TDR’s race scene-meets-Syd Mead visuals were integrated with a brilliantly selected soundtrack of electronic dance music to create something that perfectly captured the zeitgeist even as it transcended it.
It was a strange and wonderful time, pregnant with possibilities and awash with ludicruous amounts of venture capital. Looking back upon those pre-Bush, pre-9/11, pre-economic collapse days, they seem rather silly and quaint, with the seeds of a messy demise hardwired into the very fabric of the era (as it is with all boom times).
What’s past is past, and the only the future is what we make of it. Still, that won’t prevent me from lingering among the ghosts a little while longer and listening to the echoes of a world that was.
A world of beeps and boops, fills and loops stuck with the reductive, marketing-friendly label that is “electronica.”
Fluke – Atom Bomb
Chemical Brothers – Setting Sun
Future Sound of London – We Have Explosive
Daft Punk – Around the World
Orbital – The Box