I've sprained my ankle working at Festinho, and have come home to heal; mostly I've been on the sofa with a to-do list, a leg in the air, and a creaking old borrowed laptop. It's been cold and windy here, sun bright, rain blustering, air fresh and sky a tumble of blue, white and grey. Listening to some voice at the back of my mind and to keep me company in a quiet house while I wrangled with code, I put this on.
Hanged is a riot of crackling noise, nothing like the Tunng I've seen lately. It's the wind-battered trees outside the window; the chilly sunlight. It's almost September, and I'm not at home with that. Not yet. Still embedded into my memory are the cold days at the start of terms. Here's that tension, of snapping of leaves, cold concrete paths, but also new, good intention.
I took this album on a long train journey one July a few years ago, to London then Suffolk, all rushing green warmth and hot sun. Facets of noise.
There's more of a kind of twisted heartwood in here than I remember. Behind the shaking branches there are tight cyclic patterns of guitars, old English harmonies (I'll be able to describe this, one day), hesitant melodies, everything tightly packed and layered. I'm thinking of Red and Green, a song I never really clicked with as a track on its own before, more as part of the whole: now it's closing in, dark as undergrowth to me —
I look in your red eyes
And cover my green skin
Twist like an adder
Fall like a slice of snow
Dart between rocks
And I know what the darkness knows
Annie don't cry it's a delicate thing that we made
Sparrow don't cry it's a delicate thing that we made
Dislocation, a skin you're not comfortable in, a fearsome side you feel and try not to show — this isn't me, now, but the song's body, the singer it makes for me. Tunng have always themselves been a similar kind of balancing: dark with light, and seeing them recently I've missed that. Coming back to this recording is a wonderful relief, slipping back into that strange almost-unknown.
Stories too, the same, and the truly truly wonderful Jay down, which I've always loved. Deliciously, it's fuller even than I remember. The first few bars still keep me in a reverie of pulselessness, the guitar moving circular, slowly and bit by bit having its edges defined till it becomes something whose shape is entirely different to what it started out at. It's one of my very, very favourite songs. Soft wings and gentle tongue / Mountains that breathe as long as Kipling / Oh sorrow song of it all...
There's Sweet William, with its knife-edge twists of harmony and rasping bellied strings shaping threat, and a melody not quite folk, yet not quite bound to anything else: almost unnoticed in its simplicity, a perfect balance. This one I most remember from a dark October gig, with surprise and absorbing fascination: Sam and a banjo on stage (I don't remember if he played it!) and the song not usually let out. I slept inside the North wind / in a coracle at sea... Like a dream on the latest of nights.
Each time, different sides heard, different stories. The ones here have edged out all the others for now; the trees and the sounds have displaced me; new thought and old, new sound and old. There's a kind of disintegration; as the change in seasons. I chose the right music for the right time.
Comments of the Inner Chorus