killing joke – you’ll never get to me (2003)
1) Defy; to refuse to obey someone or something. try and do this every day for the rest of your life. if not manageable within ones normally compliant schedule, try at least once a week. this is an applicable, all purpose strategy areas such as family, business, work, study, leisure, relationship, geopolitical,cooking and manufacturing.
Blood Orange – Augustine (2016)
In these highly sensitive times, to judge a work of creation, a piece of art without context can be viewed as being tantamount to blasphemy. Instant emotional reactions are possibly seen as knee jerk, reactionary, ignorance. even with a form as immediate and ephemeral as music, should a writer/commentator/blogger/casual listener what have you not preface their like and dislike of something with at least a paragraph describing or understanding the circumstance in which a song/a poem/a film/painting was summoned from the ether and willed into being, then one risks being dismissed as a naive illogical fool.
Of course, this is to say I am preaching ignorance and to only react to art in a primitive, instinctual manner. not at all, my friend. our capacity for thought and reason is a gift, a powerful tool that can expand our ideas and challenge our souls. But allow me to argue as I risk disappearing up my own sphincter that music operates on an intellectual level, yes. one of considered focus, study and discipline. if one is studying an instrument or learning to compose for example but as a listener, a consumer,an appreciator, a lover of music in all forms when you hear a song outside of its context played on a radio show, podcast, television programme, movie,political rally, family gathering, road trip, in a bar, airport, supermarket, mountain retreat,party, airplane, dentist appointment and it hits you directly like an arrow into your soul context, the back story/origin does not exist. A feeling remains. a pure adrenaline rush feeling that bypasses the head and shoots into the heart.
Now, context or the environment, ones frame of mind and familiarity with a song also informs ones emotions. So a song that you have heard many times before evolves, enhances a moment and takes on a certain meaning, emotionally or psychologically. but prior to this, when the ears are innocent or virginal so to speak and you hear or feel like you are hearing a song or piece of music for the first time. it takes you by surprise, delights you, breaks down your critical defences, a form of cosmic alchemy or magic perhaps that temporarily paralyzes, inducing a state of bliss.
Anyway, this was quite a long-winded way to avoid explaining the personal/cultural background/baggage to this song ‘Augustine’ by Blood Orange and its accompanying album ‘freetown sound’. So I could mention that the record is singer/songwriter/producer/composers Dev Hynes (formerly of Test Icicles and Lightspeed Champion) personal exploration of his cultural, racial and sexual identity, an exhilarating, expansive musical question mark to paint a moving 1980’s styled sonic soul search.
and that’s all he wrote.
Eno -Hyde – Daddy’s Car (2014)
Funkadelic – One Nation Under A Groove (1978)
Can – Halleluhwah (1971)
Hall & Oates – I Can’t Go For That (1981)
A:’What’s the connection here,man? explain it to me cos I ain’t seein it, I’m not feelin it?’
B:’You ain’t feelin it? You ain’t feelin it man? are you goddamn serious with that shit?’
A:’Yeah, serious as a fuckin heart attack dude. i don’t see the connection with these four songs. i want you to explain your shit to me. i want you to expound on this shit man. I want you to present, to theorize, to analyze give me some muthafuckin theme or somethin!’
Twin Shadow – Five Seconds (2012)
Well isn’t this something? This guy’s emotiveness and style just knocks me sideways. Dominican born, New York based singer, musician and writer Twin Shadow aka George Lewis Jr’s new album Eclipse, out now on Warner Brothers I will be diving into quick and proper.
This is deepdish electro pop to swoon to, glancing back at the Eighties (e.g.,The Smiths, Human League,Depeche Mode, Erasure etc) – a cultural currency favoured by many a post-millenial popster – and pulling you into his bruised heartland with a sensitive croon that demands, pleads and goddamn it, fuckin yearns, full of affect sure but sans the irony, detachment, bland dutifulness and technique that plagues the empty pretenders of modern pop. Sample this adrenaline fueled declaration from his 2012 album Barriers , released through iconic UK indie label 4AD.
Burial – Hiders (2013)
The Horrors – Moving Further Away (2011)
Goth drone rock? Oh …the Horror! The Horrors! Lock Up Your Sprogs, Bring Your Ale, Pie, distended antique punk-era lutes, fry your brain with a cup of acid herbal, set the baritone to Low, Distress your garments, Fling open your cramps Organ, Sink into trance. You may not return!!!!!!
Robyn – Dancing On My Own (2010)
That moment when you know it’s dying. Lost, perhaps forever. More drink please. God, just let me disappear. But then you hear it. A moment of salvation. The song that speaks to your state of mind, communicating what you can’t and yet find almost unbearably painful to contain within your battered, pulsing heart. A chance to feel transcendent, escape yourself and feel a surge of power, reclaiming your identity, controlling the wild surge of emotions you feel as she looks, kisses him/her. From the corner of your eye as you stand still, ready to perform as the song strikes up, the beat kicks in. Another drink. Then you get lost. Strobe lights obscure your desire, your pain. This is the moment. For you, for them. You won’t be beaten. Defy them. Embrace the heartbreak. Feel stronger. For just one, two, three minutes, that’s all. That’s all you want and need. Please let me have this. Outside, you’re high. Still alone maybe. It doesn’t matter. What was theirs is now yours. Reclaimed. Reborn. Until the next one. The next time. Reset. Shuffle. Repeat.
Joe Meek with The Blue Men – I Hear a New World (1960)
On the 3rd of February 1967, Robert George ‘Joe’Meek’ killed himself and his landlady with a shotgun at his Holloway Road home studio in Islington, London. Meek had been one of the most successful and groundbreaking producers in British pop music up until the time of his death at the age of 37. His career has reached a commercial peak in 1962 with ‘Telstar’, an instrumental that he had written and produced as ‘The Tornadoes’- a group of session musicians that were part of his performing stable- reached Number 1 1 on both the British and US Charts and earning him an Ivor Novello award. The song contained electronic sound effects recorded at Meeks domestic sound laboratory that , intended to evoke the feel of space travel and made the song sound original and fresh in comparison with the staid crooners and Elvis wannabees flooding the pop market in the pre- Beatles era.
Meek, an independent producer before the notion existed produced many UK chart hits for the early rock n’roll in the early 60’s including singles by Lonnie Donegan, Acker Bilk, Petula Clark, Shirley Bassey, Gene Vincent, Frankie Vaughan, John Leyton, The Honeycombs, Anne Shelton, Humphrey Lyttleton and Tom Jones. He also famously turned down the Beatles. In a scene from Nick Moran’s uneven 2008 Meek biopic Telstar he dismisses them as a ‘rubbish Mersey Beat group‘.
A lot of Meeks output concentrated on seemingly throwaway teen pop and novelty records but what made them unique were Meek’s sonic adventurism. He used malleable, naive young talents as a means to an end, elevating pop fluff into weirder realms with his then strange recording methods using echo, compression, separation, speeded up voices, close making and using whatever household item or organic human noise was at hand to create otherworldly sounds.
In 1959, Meek recorded and album with a skiffle group called The Blue Men entitled ‘I Hear a New World’, an outer space concept album and through his pioneering methods created a vast, weird stereophonic universe which transformed the workaday skiffle group into interplanetary chipmunks, evidence of which you can hear above.
By 1967, Meek had not has a Top 10 success in three years, was struggling with debts , being sued for plagiarism by a French songwriter over Telstar, addicted to drugs and becoming mentally unstable. He was still trying to push the sonic envelope but the times had passed him by and the rise of the raw,R&B influenced ‘beat guitar’ groups in the UK such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who, The Small Faces etc in the music charts made him look like yesterdays man.
Today, Meek is viewed as a tragic yet influential figure in British pop music history and one whose methods of recording madness and pushing of sonic boundaries forged a template for studio experimentation that continues to this day.