Many years ago in my daily quest of researching and trying to find new music, I stumbled across The Necks. At first they were just a name, and an amusing one at that, but reading about them simply intrigued me. A conventional jazz trio of piano, bass and drums, only playing pieces of an improvisational nature that were typically rooted in minimalism and repetition, and that usually lasted about an hour. Being a glutton for “difficult” music, it didn’t take much further reading to convince me that this was a band I should check out. As each of their CD’s are roughly an hour long with a minimal amount of exposition or change, I’m going to focus on a few albums for this article. The best ones, of course.
NOTE- On an unrelated parliamentary matter – Fuck off Keith Vaz, fuck you and fuck your stupid uninformed ideas. I despise you and your entire global clique of people who fervently believe any form of media can do anything except enhance the lives of its audience by letting them experience fear and horror and violence in a risk-free setting rather than make these human tropes taboo because you ignorantly and cynically expect everyone under 35 to be a potential serial-rapist and Unabomber. Video games are an unprecedented medium for exploring the human condition and your ilk of jack-booted bank managers have historically opposed every new medium and been beaten. Just as with books, films, television and graphic novels, on the subject of unrestricted video games we will triumph over your forces of old and evil. Please know that this is but a tiny and relatively nice message from your leagues of despisers broadcasting you hate from every corner of the world every second of every day. We are daily renewed in our joy that your tremulous voice continues to go completely ignored by those who possess actual power; whatever their other failings, they stay away from your backward poisonous ideas in their droves. Please just stop; you miserable hate-filled old fuck.
It’s Wednesday. I have an Anatomy test on Friday that I was trying to revise for, but having gone over most of the material previously in the week, having a sore neck and having given a presentation a few hours previously I really am not in the mood to do any more work. I’ve thrown myself onto the bed and find myself staring up at the ceiling, and as I crane my eyes further backwards I can see out the window. Oddly, it appears that the window and the wall aren’t completely parallel, so the distance between window and curtains is greater at the left hand side than at the right. I look further backwards and see a lovely blue sky interspersed with wispy stratus clouds. It’s a great day, yet I’m stuck inside. I was meant to have lunch with a friend of mine but she cancelled yesterday, leaving me at something of a loose end. I’m not in the mood to work at the minute and I just want this week and its presentations and tests to be over. So I’ve lain down in bed with some music on. Global Communication – 76:14. It’s been a while since this album and I have spent some quality time together. Too long. I hope it can forgive me.
“I got Mike [Schiedt – guitar and vox of YOB] to sign all of my YOB albums like a big fanboy but he was so cool about it”
NOTE - Today is Armistice day, the day that the uncomprehendable horror of world war one dragged to its utterly pointless conclusion - doomed to continue twenty years later only worse because of the built-up hatred. Now is the time to remember those who died, on all sides. It's time to remember all of those killed in Hitler's concentration camps and left in the sands of Normandy. Time to consider all the bombs that went awry and destroyed French houses and all the people sitting in orange jumpsuits in Guantanamo. War is a horrid thing, and meaningless; it is time to remember those often forgotten in these things: the ordinary young men, some the same age as both of us, or younger - forced by a culture of violence to commit the worst crime against which we have laws, to spend the rest of their lives contemplating what it means. Spare a thought for those who fought for our freedom, spare a thought for those who killed for our freedom, and curse those old men who sit around in air-conditioned conference suites dreaming up conflicts in which the precious young blood of the world will die fighting. [Adam and Steven]
I’m a bit of a sentimental guy. Honestly. I don’t mean sentimental in the sense that I’ll cry at soppy movies or feel compelled to donate my money when one of those charity appeals for donkeys or whatever appears on the television. No; I’m sentimental in the sense that in some brilliant or pivotal moments in my life, I mightn’t display any visible emotion but I will treasure away the memory and do my best to preserve it for all of my days. And I do this quite often, and with certain things that may considered rather odd. For example, I can recall exactly what I was doing when I first watched Easy Rider and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and how monumental my experience of watching those films were. I can remember how I met many of the most important people in my life, even if it was because of a trivial thing such as mistaking them for another person. And I remember how I discovered this glorious CD.; The Felice Brothers’ 2008 self titled album. My father used to buy Uncut magazine to read about all the new music coming out, and each month they put together a free CD with the magazine containing choice tracks; either along some common theme or a pick of the best new music at the time. To be honest they were quite hit and miss, but it was a nifty little thing to do. One day I was casually listening to the usual mix of good-but-forgettable music when my mind was jump-started by a blast of accordion. Once I got over the initial shock I tuned in a bit closer and really enjoyed what I was hearing. It was country and bluesy but with a catchy, sing along chorus that didn’t betray its roots. I was captivated by the singer’s rusty, whiskey-soaked voice and his sardonic lyrics. The music was rich and the musicians were obviously really into what they were doing. Before the song was half way through I was convinced. This song was Frankie’s Gun, the third song from this wonderful album. I didn’t manage to acquire the rest of the album until Christmas 2008, when I rediscovered Frankie’s Gun, checked it out on last.fm and found that the entire album was being offered as a free, legal download. Two complete accidents that led me to finding one of the most enjoyable and beautiful albums of recent times.
I got sent an EP to review by a band called Mage. Listened to it once hurriedly while doing other things. In summary, it’s okay I guess if you like your music samey, bland and unchallenging. I spent all of the time I should have spent listening to it getting psyched about finding more Megaton Leviathan. A trawl through Julian Cope’s latest psychic regurgitations turned up this band, Megaton Leviathan. I downloaded their self titled album and I’m hooked. Their discography is diverse and hard to find, a lot of overlapping song titles, their 2011 release seemingly only available on tape and limited to 200 copies. It seems like sorting through Grateful Dead or Les Rallizes Dénudés discography. Julian Cope likes them, that was my first interest light flicked fully on, my second was when I noted they hailed from Oregon, the American state that is famous for being the setting of Kesey’s epic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and the stomping ground of metal magnificence purveyors Agalloch. When I listened, I got more than excited, I was so totally psyched. Their self titled album plays like early Monster Magnet given a school in song construction, the blessed out stoner soundscapes are there, but without all of the frankly tedious interludes and replaced with Pass It On-era Carlton Melton-on-speed riffage that really really cooks.
Spiral Walls Containing Autumns of Light [A "live" experience] - Divine Styler - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #20
I always enjoy a challenge. Writing this blog, for example, is quite a challenge because unlike Steve I have practically no experience doing anything like this before. But damn it all, I enjoy it because it helps me focus on the music and search deep within my linguistic memory bank to find the words to describe the great music that I hear. It might be challenging, but it’s extremely rewarding, and most challenges are; from working hard for exams to practicing a piano piece to stoically plodding through Joyce’s Finnegans Wake in order to say that I’ve read it. (I’m probably most proud of that last one, although to say I understood any of it would be a downright lie) So today, I’m attempting another challenge; a musical one. I’ve done a bit of research and discovered this album: Spiral Walls Containing Autumns of Light by Divine Styler. I’ve heard that it’s notoriously experimental; deviating far from Styler’s original genre of hip-hop to incorporate elements of spoken word, noise, funk, electronic and rock music. All of the album is available on YouTube and I’ve glossed over a few tracks just to get a feel for it – it’s pretty weird. But I’ve never listened to it in full, and this is what I want to do now. I want to chronicle my thoughts as I listen to this album for the first time because I have a feeling I’m going to have a few choice words to say. So here we go…
I’m sitting in the dark in this horrid city on a Friday night with a glass of two year old Californian shiraz because that’s all I’ve got except whisky, and I’m not digging into that evil stuff ‘till the witching hour. I think I might just have found the end to my heavy time. It’s been a long ride and along the way we’ve had some fun and been suicidal and all points inbetween. It would take something pretty special to take me out of that heavy set that lasted all of fifteen columns. This may be a small period of cold turkey or I might be getting into some really interesting non-heavy stuff. Who knows? All I know is right now I want to talk about one of my favourite bands, and the band that got me into music. Bit of history (and to add to my psychological profile sometime from now after the murders begin), maturing as I did in the nineties, the only music I was aware of was things like the Spice Girls and Robson and Gerome and for most of my conscious adolescence, I thought I simply didn’t like any music. I’m surprised our generation likes music at all, but now I think about all the X-factor talent black holes we have at number one year after obtuse year, maybe this generation doesn’t like music and is intent on punishing everyone for filling the world with such garbage. Thankfully for me, the intervention in my empty and parasitic existence up to that point was a sweet little seventies English rock band called the Electric Light Orchestra.