Hello again. Sorry I haven’t been posting much in the way of content lately. Basically April has been a curious blend of being busy and living life as close to normal as possible. The pubs are open once again and I’ve been back out with my mates twice having a good time, minus freezing our arses off on Tuesday in the post-heatwave chill (Couldn’t feel my toes afterwards. Still, worth it). I’m finally off furlough and trying to get some money back in my account. I’ve taken up walking lately aswell, going into town and back or along the seafront, getting a few miles in most days. What else, what else? Oh yeah, listening to music.
It’s been more or less the same old, same old for me as of late but that’s not to say I have completely restricted myself to my usual hunting grounds of Britpop, Madchester and what have you. I’ve been trying to have more of an open mind as of late and ever since I listened to Kid A I’ve had a bit of an interest, like Thom, in drifting away from rock and into the avant-garde. I’ve been going through bits and bobs of David Bowie’s stuff ever since I listened to Earthling and have begun to appreciate how he flirted with various genres across his career – Jungle drum and bass with Earthling, creepings of jazz in Blackstar and elements of kosmische music in Station to Station. The last one in particular caught my attention; I’ve heard things about Germany’s minimalist electronica, and wanted to give it a shot and see what I thought of it. Tried a bit of Tangerine Orange and Alpha Centauri was a good shout. But of course, if I was going to listen to that style of music then there was one song that I just had to listen to:
Kraftwerk – Autobahn
I wouldn’t quite say I like this song yet but it is growing on me. Obviously, it’s not conventional nor is it really something that I would normally listen to. But it is the front door to kosmiche music (Although from what I’ve read, Kraftwerk did pretty much grow out of the genre and become their own thing), with its minimalist bloops and bleeps melded together to create a song meant to personify the travel, traffic and general monotony on the autobahn. Maybe once I’ve finally learnt to drive and I end up going for a lengthy drive on the motorway I’ll like it more but for now I’ll appreciate it for what it is; a cool piece of music.
And while I’m at it, here’s a quick question: Ever heard of the term ‘mondegreen’? If not, it’s when you hear a song’s lyrics as something entirely different. For example, I once thought that the opening lyrics to D’You Know What I Mean? were ‘Step off the train on an unlit dawn’ (Eat your heart out, Noel), and I’ve seen another person online say they once thought the line Damon was saying over and over at the end of Beetlebum was ‘Piss on me’. It’s a weird thing, mondegreen. Anyway, like many first time listeners, I fell into the trap of thinking the lyrics to Autobahn were ‘Fun, fun, fun on the autobahn’. I was wrong, of course. And I felt like an idiot afterwards.
Frank Zappa – Peaches en Regalia
Keeping the instrumental theme going is this tune from the man who once said that nights are the best time to work for that is when the bullshit rests. Peaches en Regalia is a particular favourite of mine and has been ever since I had to talk about it for my first task in music at secondary school in Year 7. It’s got a very lush and ‘fruity’ sound to it and is one that helps cheer me up when I’m in a sour mood. Really need to listen to Hot Rats at some point…
Graham Coxon – Hard and Slow
While I love everything that Graham has done for Blur, his efforts on their self-titled album is some of his absolute finest work. Still trying to process the motor-guitar sound from Essex Dogs. But with a song like You’re So Great, as well as Coffee & TV, I knew that I had to check out his solo stuff at some point. Thus, I’ve been listening to his debut album from 1998, sandwiched between Blur and 13, titled The Sky Is Too High.
Delightfully minimalist, Hard and Slow has been a particular highlight with its intimacy similar to You’re So Great, with a fast tempo that perhaps signifies that time is going by too fast for the narrator to fully appreciate this tender moment he is sharing with a special someone. Obviously, this song doesn’t have the same flourish that Stephen Street and William Orbit would give Blur’s songs, but it’s refreshing to hear something with minimal productional polish. Adds to the intimacy.
Paul Weller – Wild Wood
One of the reviews I’ve had on the backburner for the blog has been Wild Wood, Paul Weller’s sophomore effort from 1993. It’s been about halfway done for a while now and I aim to have it out for you one day but for now I’d just like to talk about the title track which I just listened to for the first time in a while.
As a feel good song it is one of the best; quiet, elegant, reassuring and relaxing. A mostly delicate and counselling performance from Paul makes it the standout track on the album for me. Not much to say about it to be honest, I just wanted to gush about it real quick and save the full thoughts on for the review itself when I finally finish it.
So for now I’ll instead give mention to a version of the song that I just discovered the other day; the Portishead remix, titled Sheared Wood. See, trip hop is another genre that I have been having a fleeting glance at, particularly from the likes of Gorillaz, Massive Attack and, of course, Portishead, with their debut album Dummy. I’m not sure why I like it, or indeed if I do like it and may just instead be talking about it because it’s weird and new to me. But it is a fascinating mesh of the two styles, with Portishead’s keyboards, drums and electric guitars replacing the calm optimism of the original with an air of tension and caution. Cautious optimism, perfect for today. I guess you could call this a ‘night’ version of the song, when you’re on the train back home in the dead of night and the hustle and bustle are the drunks and the chavs. Could act as a nice transition into Down in the Tube Station at Midnight.