Monthly Archives: October 2011
We all have our quieter moments filled with reflection and reveries. After a pretty crucial weekend, and a complete life overhaul just around the corner, i have been left with a lot to think about. Taken from Kate Bush’s last album, Nocturn is an expansively beautiful track, both nostalgic and contemplative. Richly textured and filled with vivid imagery, the orchestral start gives way to a progressive beat that finally bursts aflame as the sun pours over a couple of night time swimmers floating in a sea of lucidity. Although the narrative seems straightforward, the music belies this simplicity, as does her questioning of the conscious state. The paths we take may seem as definite as footprints in the sand, but with a step out into the unknown, change is inevitable.
What IS it about them damn Aussies. Sounds like PNAU and Flight Facilities just had a baby. Thanks to Rose Quartz for living up to their name and alerting me to this absolute gem.
Erlend Oye is a man of many masks, but of only one beautifully pristine voice. Originally from Bergen in Norway, he first came to light as one half of The Kings of Convenience (although he had been a member of a couple of other Skandi bands previously) and their whimsical whisper-folk. From here he travelled extensively and took an interest in electronica, releasing his own album and lending his vocals to various other acts, before forming current band The Whitest Boy Alive, who are undoubtedly firm favourites at Salmon Towers. Now two albums deep, they were originally formed as an electronic band, but evolved to contain no programmed sounds, effectively becoming a live band who play music with dancefloor sensibilities. They create lovely simple melodies that follow the clean-cut scandipop rules, held together by clever percussion and satisfying squiggly noises; kind of like if Fleetwood Mac were produced by Kraftwerk whilst ram-raiding Ikea.
Underpinning all of these ventures is Erlend’s crystalline sine-wave voice that gives everything he does a certain fragility that is soothing, yet tormenting at the same time.
I would like introduce you all to Candice Juniper (no, not the dog); speed rolling enthusiast, facebook pokery nemesis and overall baast fraand. We met whilst “working” for the now defunct Po Na Na in the narcotic vortex that is Leicester. We bonded over an innate sense of mischief, talking the type of codshit that can only come from severe sleep deprivation and far too many gaschambers. For nigh on 11 years she has been firmly lodged at the centre of my awesome, but slightly terrifying friendship group and the myriad of off-shooting branches that make up the gauze bush of my social network.
Now that she has returned from her 2 year exodus to Australia, we can get back to one of our favourite pastimes; disagreeing about music. With Candice’s tastes being far more urbane than my own (mine can sometimes be the musical equivalent of hundreds and thousands) , I can usually measure a song’s relative amazingness is by its direct proportionality to how much she hates it. However, as with everything, there are exceptions to this rule, and although our music preferences do follow distinctly separate arcs, there does seem to be a cross section where they converge. Firstly there is the sub-genre of dirty squelchy filthy house music that we have affectionately termed ‘pig rape’, the other is harder to define as it has no logical explanation. Case and point being the Kurtis Mantronix’s single ‘How Did You Know’ which surreptitiously found its way into our CD player on a frequent basis when Candice and I used to live together in Clapham, by hands other than my own. This is a song that rhymes the words ‘daydream’ and ‘sunbeam’ and by all intents and purposes, by Candice’s usual standards should have ended up in the bin rather than on repeat.
So in the spirit of estimable research to a worthy cause, I will endeavor to discover what this goldilocks zone of music is. What makes some of my more flamboyant choices acceptable and others destined for ridicule and shunned in polite company/messy afterparties.
To start us off, I have chosen a song that I very much already know the answer to, but should give you a general idea of what we are dealing with. To me this song shows the strength of the original song-writing in that it can be taken from its rock roots, have the vocals re-gendered and then placed squarely in the middle of bubblegum pop kitschness and still sound amazing.
But don’t just take it from me. Candice, pray, what are your thoughts?
Candice: That’s a lovely post, I especially like all the reminiscing at the beginning. I had COMPLETELY forgotten how much I loved that Kurtis song. Just re-listened to it though and am feeling a bit ashamed. I like to think I probably picked that song as the best of a bad lot, and because i was drunk for 90% of the time we lived together.
You are going to have to work out some way to disguise the songs you send me cause I OUTRIGHT refuse to assault my ears with that fucking horror show of a remix. The original was dire and the remix makes me wish i didn’t have ears. It’s too rank for words sorry. Start me off gently, can’t we have some steps, or s club juniors remixes or something? I’ll puke if i have to listen to it, and I’m sat at work.
So there we have it.
If any of you are at any odds to how Can feels about the song in question, she also picked the picture atop to represent her feelings.
Back in 2005 I stumbled across a lovely song called “Not One Bit Ashamed”. The song, full of pomp and heartbreak, led me to a very industrious musician from Fife. Kenny Anderson, otherwise known as King Creosote, must be one of the hardest working men in folk, racking up over 40 or so albums since he quietly appeared in 1998.
After leaving his band in the late nineties, Anderson started to discretely release his own music through his self-started label Fences and became the spearhead of a floating conglomerate of scottish folk-inspired artists called The Fence Collective. In a London-centric industry he chose to “remain stuck to his stretch of the Fife coastline with the obstinacy of a gnarled barnacle”. Its appeal is obvious: cobbled wynds and harbourside cottages doused with watery sunlight and a North Sea breeze. You can see how its poetic sense of place informs his songs, which are quenched with homespun stories, heartbreak and a watcher’s eye for detail. He has gradually over time garnered an ever growing cult following, and although his later albums have been released through larger record labels such as Domino Records, he still has never risen beyond any status other than cult, though a Mercury Music Prize nomination for his latest album Diamond Mine (a collaboration with Musique concrète specialist, Jon Hopkins) might elevate him to notable.
Anderson’s magic for me is the creation of achingly beautiful songs that feel tender and intimate in their nature. When paired with his insular lyrics full of wit and wisdom, and his scotish lilt suspended in the treacly timbre of his vocals (often backed by longtime friend and fan, KT Tunstall), they conjure up deeply affecting and reflective songs that accrue real emotional weight.
Having just listened to Diamond Mine again, it truly sparkles. Seven years in the making, it is a labour of love that reaches into his back catalogue to “create a soundtrack to a romanticised version of life in a Scottish coastal village”. It is expertly shaded by Hopkins’ subtle electronic flourishes and sound samples recorded on location in Anstruther. Only a brief 37 minutes long in it’s entirety, it somehow feels like you’ve just listen to the whole of a life.
Here is a little selection of some of my favs from his back catalogue.