Something peculiarly joyous happens when a boyhood pop star shows signs of life decades after the bedroom years. It's great to hear an old Gary Numan riff thudding away underneath Basement Jaxx' latest booty-moving beatfest, and to know that the hip young kids are boogying down to the same noise you dug all those years ago, daddy-o. Helps put off middle age for just that little longer, with the added bonus that one's beloved offspring can be shamefully embarrassed by your knowledge of the current scene.
And now it looks like more of the same is due from another 80s synth hero, Thomas Dolby. After a cracking first album, he went downhill at around the same rate as he disappeared up his own garden path. By the 90s, it looked as if he was stuck living the life of a right Brit ex-pat ponce in LA, making waffly noises about the Internet from under his beret while churning out some by-the-yard film music.
Yet hold hard, Europa fans! His music-over-the-Net company Beatnik is pulling rabbits out that selfsame beret, even as I type. By combining a cunning mix of samples and MIDI data it cuts down a large, realistic piece of music to the sort of size you can get over a mobile phone -- and it's been demonstrating just that, playing fine noises on Nokia 9210. Or, if it gets you hotter, Symbian. And as there's nothing more painfully now than mobile phones making music, and plenty of it, it looks as if I'll be embarrassing my teenager for years yet.