Wave Twisters

With Blade Runner 2049 folding at the box office like an origami unicorn, let’s look back on a film that’s equally confusing and 2 hours shorter: Wave Twisters. Or as they say in Blade Runner: meep meep.

This 45-minute animation from 2001 (available below) was designed to accompany the DJ Q-Bert album of the same name. Dubbed the first “scratch concept album”, the record tells an incoherent story, based on the intergalactic adventures of the Dental Commander; a DJ, dentist and spaceship captain. Confused? You should be.

All the dialogue is made up of speech samples scratched into the music, following the Dental Commander and his crew (including a rapping robot trash can called MC Rubbish) as they embark upon a mission to save the four “lost arts of hip-hop” from extinction: DJing, MCing, breakdancing and graffitiing.

Although narratively as mad as a bag of cats, it has the same post-modern approach as the album, and hip-hop in general. Just as Q-Bert remixed the sounds from old adverts and sci-fi, directors Eric Henry and Syd Garon do the same thing visually; manipulate the past to create something that’s not only new, but futuristic.

Although the once-futuristic visuals now look decidedly dated, this perplexingly irreverent mash-up style has echoes of the influential Cartoon Network show Space Ghost Coast to Coast. It’s goofy, surreal and satirical; a trippy sensory overload probably best watched in an altered state. And I’m not talking about gerrymandering.

The film took three years to produce, but the resulting 45 minutes whizz by so quickly you can barely catch all the references to Star Trek and Asimov. Considered the world’s greatest turntablist, the nerdy and apparently ageless Q-Bert is interested in what alien music or music in the future might sound like.

Wave Twisters reflects this vision, although the climactic (literally) track on the album, ‘Aphrodisiskratch’, in which Q-Bert scratches the sound of a female orgasm, is omitted from the film. If only Blade Runner 2049 had made similar edits, women might have actually gone to see it.

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