Tuesday, February 26, 2013

We've gotten too big
and we just cannot see
the lie that we are
and no one can be
as huge as we say
we never could be
as huge as we wish
as huge as we say

Nick Cave; Ripples In A Lake

Nick Cave apparently knows no limits to the widths and depths of possibility.  Some of his records hit you over the head immediately and say here I am, look at me! Some lurk in the corner and wait for you to discover them in your own good time. 'Push The Sky Away' is one of the latter.

When the first single was released, I have to admit, I was a bit put off. It was spelled We No Who U R. For better or worse, I am still resistant to the text spelling trends though I find myself texting more and more these days. It seems to be the new email. Of course, it also sounded like his song 'Abattoir Blues', which I love (the song and album), but it sounded like a bit of a repeat.

Well, I need not have worried, well ok I did with Jubilee Street a bit at first, but I think it only took hearing it a number of times, without that video, for it to grow like ivy in the spring on brick.

That is the essence of this record. It lurks, and it grows. There is just enough of a hook here and there to bring you back in your haze of uncertainty. 'Wide Lovely Eyes' is beautiful. 'The Water's Edge' hearkens back to 'Sad Waters' with its quiet menace, but this new song has a little new release at the end.

'Mermaids' is endlessly fascinating. It prowls and meanders hither and yon from a bad relationship to  religion, to fantasy and hope. The melody does just the same rising when you least expect to a peak of hope that rises above all that came before. Hope is, after all, all that we really have from day to day.

The entire experience casts a spell. There appears to be a bit of a narrative and continuity. There is a connection with the elements of water and air and breath and life that lurks below in the undertow of the Bad Seeds' music that sets off the sometimes ambiguous words perfectly. I can't help but think of James Joyce a bit here. Except here we have Brighton, where Nick now lives, instead of Dublin. There are a number of voices and lives and experiences across this 45 minutes, and I find myself endlessly drawn back over and over.

I laughed and cryed to 'Mermaids' alone.

I wondered at 'Higgs Boson Blues' and its lonely protagonist on his futile journey of loneliness, and the seemingly more autobiographical, 'Finishing Jubilee Street', and I cried again a bit during the song, 'Push The Sky Away. Life is futile, but life is rich. Life is empty, but life is beautiful. You can try to end the futility, but you'll miss so much. That's what I get from this record.

At first, I was a little annoyed at Warren's loops. I love his violin playing, it's why I love him, and his loops, to me grew a little loathsome on Grinderman 2, but my mind has adjusted to the new template. Well, that is the thing. This is new. The first Grinderman, to me was amazing, and the second, not so much, but now it feels like a palate cleanser for this beauty of a record.

I highly recommend it, and I know my writing about it will never do it justice. It needs to be heard. It demands it. Only, if you do, do not just listen once, dive in again. Pick a spot, pick a song. It is like ripples. One song, whichever you pick, leads forwards and backwards again like ripples in the lake, until the whole is consumed by your ears and brains. See if you agree that this shadow lurking in the corner could become a central figure in the spotlight.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I have always thought that performing a song from another artist you admire is a chance to display your respect for their creativity and originality by exposing other aspects of light and shadow and possibility held within the framework of their creations. In short, what can you do differently? Imagine trying to stretch that notion across an entire album. That was the goal of the remaining members of Throbbing Gristle who had dubbed themselves X-TG after Genesis P-Oridge abruptly left the group via e-mail.

The idea apparently originally came from Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson, and the final double album plus bonus remix album is dedicated to his vision. Released two years after Sleazy's death, we can wrap ourselves in the warmth of these tendrils of music. No longer confrontational, these strands of sounds are welcoming and warm like an old friend. This is, I suspect, the point, and I think it is my favorite release of 2012.

The first disc is chock full of guest artists singing to laid back tracks of sound and noise. . . nothing too jarring; all wrapped in love and comfort. There are standout moments, for me in particular, Blixa Bargeld's takes on the German tracks. He sounds at home in these soundscapes. Where else would he be after all? Blixa sounds at home in the bowels of hell and damnation while singing of love. Of course, Cosey Fanny Tutti sounds great. This is her home. Sleazy, her friend, Chris, her partner.  She brings a pathos to the words and the mood. The loss and the life are monumental and equal.

The noise and the fury that build only hint at that of the past fury. So again, it is comforting and warm.  Dissonace becomes harmonious and sound as antagonist becomes sound as joy.

Of course, it is difficult to write about this without mentioning that absent voice you cringe to name. The second disc really sounds barren and cold and wanting. It really makes me miss the Voice of Gen.
i can feel the hole. I can feel its roundness and limits. Whereas the first disc has its presence and voices, the second disc is wholly lacking. I suspect this is the point. Peter is lacking as well. Well. . . It is I believe a reflection of the lack of the whole. And that is I believe the point. Sometimes the guiding light is just in the shadows like a conductor. You can see the motion, but there is no sound of the conductor. Only the sound.
Old is new, and old is well, history. How? Why? Why? Indeed!

Here I am again immersed in early Hall and Oates. Specifically again, War Babies (1974). This is dark and unrelenting. There are no hits. There are no uplifting moments. There is reality, and there is life, and there is pain and fucked up human beings. There is also Todd Rundrgren who, i think, encourages and loves this aspect of life. There is the memory of the past juxtaposed with the reality of the present. Yet darkness uplifts in its own way. I love this disc. I have for years and years. Days lead to weeks to months to years to life and more and so on, and where does it end, if ever? There is darkness illuminated by tv screens and life illuminated by death scenes. Life and death. Begin and End. Sink and Swim!