John Cale & Brian Eno – Spinning Away (1990)
Glorious pop music although I now recall with much ire where I first heard it, tacked onto the final scene and end credits of Danny Boyle’s 2000 film adaptation of Alex Garland’s The Beach.
The film itself I recall as being as fairly enjoyable but it wanted to have its artistic/commercial cake and scoff it It was a slick, Leonardo di caprio vehicle filled with exotic Thailand locations, drug&sex filled backpacker hedonism, a hip soundtrack with hints of an edgy drama which examined the paranoid, cult-ish, quasi-imperialist flip side of said hedonism by way of heavy-handed, hopeful allusions to Apocalypse Now.
Ultimately, it cops out preferring to end on a ludicrously false note of nostalgia and optimism in a ‘arent Western backpackers a well-intentioned but wacky, free-spirited lot?’ kind of way and Di Caprio’s dickish, self absorbed Yank protagonist comes out of it scot-free despite causing and being involved in murder and violence with plenty of sunny Polaroids of his experiences and this gorgeously upbeat tune is misused to bolster Boyle’s bullshit finale.
So forget all of wot I just wrote and enjoy the song as it is in the context of John Cale and Brian Eno’s 1990 album Wrong Way Up which could bring sunshine into the greyest corners of the earth*.
*Play this at someones funeral, maybe even your own to liven up things a bit. just a suggestion.
Bauhaus – All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
James – The Pressure’s On (1994)
Brian Eno – The Big Ship (1975)
how to justify this indulgence? yet another post, numero seven hundred and something or other. Find a thread, a commonality. Well, reader….these three songs seemed to connect in my mind and my heart, suggested a tangible mood or feeling, a more obvious one perhaps – there are no flameco infused hip-hop, jazz, fusion, avant-garde edm iceskating jungle beats woven into this to throw/ impress/show off my intellect – but i like to think each one as a journey through a day, a dark day where one longs for a helping hand, some tenderness and basic kindness to guide them from morning through night, wake to sleep.
How we see our world, up close and far away how immediate and distant environments communicate complicated feelings and longings, that is what I wish to dig into here.
Past experiences can often seem locked off, consigned to memory’s deep waters until something sharp and true signals it to resurface; a sound, a scent, a feeling,a movement, a building, a skyline, a vibration creating something present and long gone, physical and emotional sensations interweaving through times long ago, in the moment and yet to begin.
Music unlocking the secrets of a time and place specific to each one of us is nothing revelatory, it an essential function of the form that makes it last beyond the moment of inception and release. It can breathe life into an empty space and illuminate our understanding of where we live be it now, then or beyond.
As melting pots of culture, cities contain a myriad, endless stream of sounds and human experience and once we interact with a city and it’s beating heart, it can leave a lasting deep imprint on our imaginations, our souls, our psyches.
So good reader, if you have made it this far you will I hope join me as we explore selected pieces of music that were inspired by – and evoke – modern living, living in the city in all of its facets. Let us delve into the ‘poetics of space’, the possibilities of what city dreams lie within in our ourselves and what in each metropolis inspired their creators so.
Harold Budd & Brian Eno – Above Chiangmai (1980)
From the album ambient 2 – The Plateaux of Mirror, a collaboration between American composer/musician Harold Budd and musical gadfly Brian Eno, released in 1980 through eno’s own obscure records imprint, Above Chiangmai is a brief, treated acoustic piano piece performed by budd, its title no doubt inspired by eno’s own sojourn to thailand for several months in 1979.
A gentle memory whispering over your shoulder, a moment of tenderness, of yearning, of absolute harmony where nothing could harm you, one that remains, never leaves you, a splinter of time lodged in the heart.
Mr Bowie I presume? Yes, wearing Accident victim chic by Polaroid. The tail-end of Bowie’s ‘Berlin’ trilogy though actually recorded in Switzerland and New York, Lodger came out in 1979 and marked the final fruits of The Thin White Dukes creative partnership with Brian Eno. After pushing musical boundaries with 1977’s avant pop one-two of Low and Heroes, conceived in the heady atmosphere of Berlins Hansa Studio By The Wall, Lodger is more accessible songwise without sacrificing any of those records experimental inclinations; it plays, it swings, it croons, it jams, it funks in a white London boy reinventing himself once more kind of way….God bless his freaky little cockney cotton socks!