• all that static air / Comments of the Inner Chorus

    Ago 29 2010, 23:45

    Here's a story about displacement. About this LP, too.

    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
  • connections: Björk and Beethoven

    Ott 20 2009, 18:46

    Things I would love to ask Björk: if Anchor Song references Beethoven's String Quartet No. 15 (Op. 132). It's a mere moment, but I can imagine a seed (and as she says, she went through 'ten years of classical music training where I was force-fed German composers then spent the next fifteen battling them'):

    (slow, solemn, joyous, thankful; after a cadence and a moment's quiet)

    ('this is where I'm staying… this is my home')
  • calamus and cinnamon

    Ago 27 2009, 4:18

  • King Seven and 'Hidden'

    Mar 25 2009, 22:38

    At last, I lay ear upon King Seven's Hidden EP. I heard Hidden itself a couple of summers ago, on Bonobo's Solid Steel compilation — in the smoky and wonderful attic room of a house of architects. There it emerges perfectly from the previous song, the strange, handclapping mellow groove of Soul Call. Both rest on the very same bass stomp (on the first and second-and-a-halfth beat of four) — so when the dominant seventh chords are replaced fusslessly by the tight-strung notes of Hidden, the mix continuing… it's like remembering something you'd forgotten; something which had always been there. The surfacing shifts your attitude to something a little more present, a little sharper.

    Harp (or harp-sounds); and a guitar, more mellow and mono-no-aware in its ninths. It expands, contracts. A cello — suddenly, forging forward, it's the medulla of the piece, and more strings rally around it.

    The subtlest of notes provide a telegraph wire over the interlude; then a play of notes in a clearing. Beats skitter and trill.

    A forest, early or late twilight; some kind of rushing seawards through greens and muted light.

    The dark dark cello as it digs into the bass and rises up, oh… slow drumbeats rock you onward. Steady steps, steady steps.

    Over the edge. Here I am. Open air, open water, ozone.

    Electronics ricochet softly. (There are difference tones in my ears.)

    Brittle is nothing of the sort. There's a wondering guitar, and shifting noises behind it. Like a workshop — dreams and hard work in one place.

    Simple Folk is a sunny day of — well, frankly, jamming, in a bright, bright, sunshiny park. It may have a huge four-to-the-floor drumbeat that kicks in every now and then, but two guitar lines seem to smile at each other across the (yes, sorry) congos.

    Then oh my GOODNESS comes the most hippy bassline you've ever heard! It woobles, full of portamento, like some thoroughly cheerful undersea creature.

    On it travels, breaking up, shaking down. More sun you couldn't ask for.

    (In Snowfall Part 1 electric piano glides past; a slightly out-of-place outro. Have Air popped in to see what's going on?)
  • journey into memory

    Mar 4 2009, 16:18

    Near the end of last night's Horizon, a piece of background music caught my ear and my breath: I knew it, and well, but where from?

    After a few moments I was convinced it was Fanny Adams. But on listening — no, that's not the one. I moved on.

    Is it Starless & Bible Black? I had a skip through their album, which I've been looking forward to leafing back through for a while — still no (but I rediscovered the lovely Allsight and Sirène, in the process).

    Did Pause have a turn that was more folk than -tronica? I took a quick listen to check, but it was all far off from the expectation I was chasing.

    I even tried Solid Steel presents Bonobo: It Came From The Sea remembering its occasional acoustic strains (like Hidden) — I knew I was still lost.

    I could feel clearly the context to the track I was seeking: I knew it was made by people who were concocting music (like chefs in a café) from the latest parts of the British folk revival, taking in all their modern context to go with it.

    Frustrated, I followed one last lead: one thing that's common to a certain kind of folk revivalist is the Wicker Man. I was flicking through Tanakh and remembered that he had a cover of Gently Johnny, gently reminding me. A few tracks in I thought — no, it's something more known to me than that, I know it.

    Retrace steps.

    Finally —

    Oh, such a fool! I hadn't listened to the whole of the Memory Band's album in my haste… at last, it rings blissfully in my ears: Catch As Catch Can.

    I first saw the Memory Band when they reinterpreted the Wicker Man soundtrack itself, at the first Latitude Festival.

    (And Paul McGann, who narrated the Horizon documentary, looks strikingly like – in both of their youths, anyway – Paul Giovanni, who sings Gently Johnny in the film.)

    I leave you with a mystery closed and a stack of connected, lovely songs laid around it.
  • straightening out audioscrobbler / a little wander through an old July

    Lug 18 2008, 18:28

    In the last week of July 2005, the audioscrobbler server (as it then was) went slightly hatstand, taking every song-play and multiplying it by three, four, five, six or seven. In three years and many site updates, this remained an unfixable blot, giving me strange recommendations and even stranger-looking charts — until now!

    Thanks to the Library, I've pruned out the erroneously overgrown tracks. This does mean, though, that those times I've played those tracks during other weeks/months/years have been removed too. A slightly bare profile is better than a wildly inflated one; so, what will I find on the compost heap?

    25th–31st July 2005

    I'd owned The Milk-Eyed Mender for a few months before playing it in this week, so I already knew and loved it. I remember having it as accompaniment, aptly, to some sewing I was doing to mend something or other; this might have been then. There are a good few more missing plays of this album overall.

    You're Worth More to Me Than 1000 Christians! I've loved Carload of Whatever and most especially Luci Had A Birthday (that heavenward modulation halfway through the first line which tos and fros as it repeats) since then — and I mustn't forget the gloriously trodden-upon version of (They Long to Be) Close to You!
    Les Mouches contain Owen Pallett a.k.a. Final Fantasy; Peach, Plum, Pear will be missing from this, also.

    There are one or two excellent Tiger Lillies songs now departed (Gin particularly); Kit and the Widow too, whose Shipping I adore.

    I think I love Sleep, Eat Food, Have Visions a little more for its title than its content. But in its eight-minute, ear-hurting, echoing warehouse glory, that's here too.

    Fall I must have listened to dozens of times — so many of those are before audioscrobbler or away from the computer, though (it's trains through-and-through for me), that I won't mind its absence.

    I read a review of Gather in the Mushrooms somewhere in print, and from that was caught up in a sorrowful swirl by Milk and Honey. Add to that Steal Compass/Drive North/Disappear, the frenzied Sweet and Tender Hooligan and Parasite (partly in this group, partly the next — read on) and you have the soundtrack to all faces of a break-up.

    All's not lost at this point though (as indeed it never was in real life, either) — broken_chords had sent me a mix CD with, among other things, Statued and With Arms Outstretched on. Serene, uplifting. A good ending!
  • ears to the electronic wall: part two

    Set 12 2006, 22:51

    Ensemble is Olivier Alary…

    …who programmed Desired Constellation

    …the backing of which turns right back up again in Loose!

    Lovely. Listen for it around 2'33"–3'08".
  • further adventures in tagging

    Dic 22 2005, 23:33


    Brilliantly absurd:

    (though out of rock'n'roll circles, of course, it's Fyfe Hutchins)
  • a pox upon thee, electronics

    Dic 5 2005, 0:01

    Tag radio for earlier threw up Viewfinder … cue a tip-of-the-tongue experience with regards to the sample used in the background.

    … no more! I've just found it: in Aguilla, which I was given on a mix CD three years ago. Hurrah!