morningmusicshuffle:

Day 142 : Hiroshima Mon Amour by Ultravox! from Ha! Ha! Ha!
I used to read Warren Cann’s drum programming column in some music magazine, and religiously program his patterns into my little old (crappy) SR-88 drum machine. You see I was a big fan of Ultravox (without the !) and remember borrowing someone’s Ultravox! (with the !) albums and thinking how austere, cold and unexciting they were. And that old Midge really helped step them up a bit. Now, there doesn’t seem that much difference between late Ultravox! and early Ultravox.
You see, distance is a wonderful thing in music. That which is too close (as ! was to no !) seems outdated and yesterday’s thing. But give it 10+ years and everything sorts itself out in the classics standings.
In fact ! has more gravitas than no !, probably as they were never forced into chart success.
HMA is a beautiful Kraftwerk/early Roxy Music inspired track featuring Warren’s unmistakeable drum programming. This set the template for many new wave/synthpop songs to come, a la Enola Gay 3 years later. Warren’s TR-77 sounds a lot better here than my SR-88, of course.
Serendipity : 10
Love : 8

morningmusicshuffle:

Day 142 : Hiroshima Mon Amour by Ultravox! from Ha! Ha! Ha!

I used to read Warren Cann’s drum programming column in some music magazine, and religiously program his patterns into my little old (crappy) SR-88 drum machine. You see I was a big fan of Ultravox (without the !) and remember borrowing someone’s Ultravox! (with the !) albums and thinking how austere, cold and unexciting they were. And that old Midge really helped step them up a bit. Now, there doesn’t seem that much difference between late Ultravox! and early Ultravox.

You see, distance is a wonderful thing in music. That which is too close (as ! was to no !) seems outdated and yesterday’s thing. But give it 10+ years and everything sorts itself out in the classics standings.

In fact ! has more gravitas than no !, probably as they were never forced into chart success.

HMA is a beautiful Kraftwerk/early Roxy Music inspired track featuring Warren’s unmistakeable drum programming. This set the template for many new wave/synthpop songs to come, a la Enola Gay 3 years later. Warren’s TR-77 sounds a lot better here than my SR-88, of course.

Serendipity : 10

Love : 8

2 notes

morningmusicshuffle:

Day 128 : Bats in the Attic by King Creosote & Jon Hopkins from Diamond Mine
I’m all for singers giving up the American pretense and singing in their naturalized voice. Heavy on his Scottish accent, King Creosote’s (or Kenny to his friends) vocals are delicate and beautiful above a simple piano, drums & atmospheric arrangement. Hopkins keeps the electronic acrobatics to a minimum with just a subtle bass tone to hint at his ambient credentials. Serendipity : 10 Love : 7

morningmusicshuffle:

Day 128 : Bats in the Attic by King Creosote & Jon Hopkins from Diamond Mine

I’m all for singers giving up the American pretense and singing in their naturalized voice. Heavy on his Scottish accent, King Creosote’s (or Kenny to his friends) vocals are delicate and beautiful above a simple piano, drums & atmospheric arrangement. Hopkins keeps the electronic acrobatics to a minimum with just a subtle bass tone to hint at his ambient credentials. Serendipity : 10 Love : 7

2 notes

morningmusicshuffle:

Day 121: I Tried by Mull Historical Society from Loss
A song that manages to be majestic despite its fragile components. Light production, thin vocals, reedy synths, and fuzz guitar. But MHS pulls it off with aplomb to create one of my favourite songs I’d forgotten about.
The song’s well constructed with lots of peripheral instrumentation. I particularly like the “wedding peel” bells that come in at 2’35”. And all very clever considering MHS is a one man band called Colin.
Serendipity : 10
Love : 9

morningmusicshuffle:

Day 121: I Tried by Mull Historical Society from Loss

A song that manages to be majestic despite its fragile components. Light production, thin vocals, reedy synths, and fuzz guitar. But MHS pulls it off with aplomb to create one of my favourite songs I’d forgotten about.

The song’s well constructed with lots of peripheral instrumentation. I particularly like the “wedding peel” bells that come in at 2’35”. And all very clever considering MHS is a one man band called Colin.

Serendipity : 10

Love : 9

1 note

(Source: themichaelmoran)

4 notes

morningmusicshuffle:

Day 108 : Is There Anybody Out There? by Bassheads
An Acid House classic - probably the best IMHO in melding breakbeats, 808/303, Italia-house piano and lifted samples. And my, there are a fair few samples in here. Talking Heads, Osmonds, Afrika Bambaataa, Pink Floyd & The Power all make the cut. Back in ‘91 I’m sure the copyright implications were less appreciated so I can’t believe BH got much change after royalties. In fact the Floyd sample, from which the track got its name, had to be removed when this was released as a (much shorter) single.
Serendipity : 10
Love : 9

morningmusicshuffle:

Day 108 : Is There Anybody Out There? by Bassheads

An Acid House classic - probably the best IMHO in melding breakbeats, 808/303, Italia-house piano and lifted samples. And my, there are a fair few samples in here. Talking Heads, Osmonds, Afrika Bambaataa, Pink Floyd & The Power all make the cut. Back in ‘91 I’m sure the copyright implications were less appreciated so I can’t believe BH got much change after royalties. In fact the Floyd sample, from which the track got its name, had to be removed when this was released as a (much shorter) single.

Serendipity : 10

Love : 9

2 notes

morningmusicshuffle:

Day 100 : Basscadet by Autechre from Incunabula
The acceptable side of unlistenable, I love how autechre make chaos, dischord and disharmony come together into something musical.
Artisans of their trade, you can hear the care, attention and love put into these productions. These are not slap-dash, hit the keyboards and see what happens musicians. This is well crafted music where sounds are carefully constructed and layers gradually built.
I just couldn’t see myself sitting in a studio 10 hours a day finessing this stuff. And for that, kudos!
Serendipity : 10
Love : 8

morningmusicshuffle:

Day 100 : Basscadet by Autechre from Incunabula

The acceptable side of unlistenable, I love how autechre make chaos, dischord and disharmony come together into something musical.

Artisans of their trade, you can hear the care, attention and love put into these productions. These are not slap-dash, hit the keyboards and see what happens musicians. This is well crafted music where sounds are carefully constructed and layers gradually built.

I just couldn’t see myself sitting in a studio 10 hours a day finessing this stuff. And for that, kudos!

Serendipity : 10

Love : 8

2 notes

A reminder of things lost

domconlon:

I have remembered you in the light
morning doesn’t want,
in the echoes whittled
from footsteps passing by,
and in the drips
my taps cannot hope to hold.

I have stacked boxes in your name,
watched clocks to see your face,
cast coins for candles
and plans to the wind,
and I have learned
there is nothing to taste
or to touch
in memories.

from www.domconlon.com

7 notes

Sacred City (part 1)

shriekbackmusic:

image

The year was 1991 and enough time had elapsed for a certain amount of friction after the GoBang period to have dissipated.

And for a recalibration in my Shriekback head to have occurred.

I had survived a period (the first in ten years) without a record deal and I wasn’t sleeping in a…

7 notes

"The 25 Paintings" An exhibition of work by Bill Drummond.
I’m a huge fan of Bill Drummond. I first heard of him when he was managing Julian Cope and Echo & The Bunnymen and I wasn’t terribly interested in him then. Later on, he was in the JAMS and I bought one of the handful of copies of ‘1987 What the fuck is going on?’ that were released into the wild because that did seem interesting and thus I followed him through the KLF, The Timelords and the K Foundation, becoming progressively more interested by him, right up to the point when he and Jimmy Cauty burned a million pounds. And then I was hooked.
Since then I’ve followed Bill (as I’ve decided to refer to him) mostly through his books and the occasional article, although now he doesn’t give interviews. You can, however, read his responses to his last 100 interview questions in his book ‘100’ (if you can find a copy and have some money to spare).
Three years ago, I met a chap on Twitter, Jon, who had, if anything, a greater fascination with Bill than me. Our mutual interest in his works led us to having our own project/event/happening which you can read about here. I don’t know if Bill would have approved or found it banal but his influence is clear. And, actually, the fact that I can’t get inside Bill’s head and understand what makes him tick, is one of the reasons I find him enduringly fascinating.
For the last three months, Bill has had an exhibition at Eastside Projects in Birmingham and Jon and I decided we ought to go along. So, we chose a date and today we drove down. It was only upon arriving at the gallery and seeing that it was only open Wednesday to Saturday that we thought that we ought to have checked the when the gallery was open. 
We took photos through the glass door and decided what to do next. There’s a piece of graffiti that Bill has put up in various places - “Imagine waking tomorrow + all music has disappeared” - and Jon knew that Bill had done it under spaghetti junction. We decided to recover the day by finding it.
As we were stood there talking, a man and a woman came out of the gallery door. I checked with them that the gallery was actually closed today - which, of course, it was - and then asked if there was any way that we could just pop in for five minutes. The man replied that we’d have to come back on Wednesday but Jon told him we’d come along way to see the exhibition and, to our surprise, we were told to come back in half an hour.
So it was, then, that Jon and I had the opportunity to see the exhibition on our own and I am hugely grateful that we were allowed to do so. Apart from the wonderful ‘25 paintings’, themselves, there was also ‘The 60 posters’, a bed that Bill has built and is raffling, ‘The house of cards’, maps showing many projects including the soup line and cake circle, some of the knitting that he is inviting people to do while they’re there, a rotation of his sixty second videos, and, wonderfully, his work desk. It was all totally engrossing.
Unsurprisingly, we stayed for far more than five minutes but the chap seemed happy enough, and perhaps he was even more happy when we both bought copies of all of the different books that were for sale.
It’s always odd coming out of an exhibition that’s had an effect on you; I want it to extend out into the real world. Happily, on this occasion, Jon and I had already decided that just because we’d managed to see the exhibition after all didn’t mean we could abandon plan B: finding Bill’s graffiti. (This was made easier, however, as the an in the gallery had give Jon some directions as to how to find it.)
And, indeed, after a ten minute drive to spaghetti junction, and a shortish walk along the canal, we found the graffiti, illuminated by a skylight in the bridge above. It was quite magical. Over the top Bill had put up a series of posters of him in the process of painting his head, which we’d also seen at the gallery.
I don’t know if Bill is a Situationist or what his view of Situationism is but there, under this concrete flyover, across a stagnant canal, using the light, some paint and a series of posters, he managed to create something quite beautiful.
I love him more now than I did this morning,

"The 25 Paintings" An exhibition of work by Bill Drummond.

I’m a huge fan of Bill Drummond. I first heard of him when he was managing Julian Cope and Echo & The Bunnymen and I wasn’t terribly interested in him then. Later on, he was in the JAMS and I bought one of the handful of copies of ‘1987 What the fuck is going on?’ that were released into the wild because that did seem interesting and thus I followed him through the KLF, The Timelords and the K Foundation, becoming progressively more interested by him, right up to the point when he and Jimmy Cauty burned a million pounds. And then I was hooked.

Since then I’ve followed Bill (as I’ve decided to refer to him) mostly through his books and the occasional article, although now he doesn’t give interviews. You can, however, read his responses to his last 100 interview questions in his book ‘100’ (if you can find a copy and have some money to spare).

Three years ago, I met a chap on Twitter, Jon, who had, if anything, a greater fascination with Bill than me. Our mutual interest in his works led us to having our own project/event/happening which you can read about here. I don’t know if Bill would have approved or found it banal but his influence is clear. And, actually, the fact that I can’t get inside Bill’s head and understand what makes him tick, is one of the reasons I find him enduringly fascinating.

For the last three months, Bill has had an exhibition at Eastside Projects in Birmingham and Jon and I decided we ought to go along. So, we chose a date and today we drove down. It was only upon arriving at the gallery and seeing that it was only open Wednesday to Saturday that we thought that we ought to have checked the when the gallery was open. 

We took photos through the glass door and decided what to do next. There’s a piece of graffiti that Bill has put up in various places - “Imagine waking tomorrow + all music has disappeared” - and Jon knew that Bill had done it under spaghetti junction. We decided to recover the day by finding it.

As we were stood there talking, a man and a woman came out of the gallery door. I checked with them that the gallery was actually closed today - which, of course, it was - and then asked if there was any way that we could just pop in for five minutes. The man replied that we’d have to come back on Wednesday but Jon told him we’d come along way to see the exhibition and, to our surprise, we were told to come back in half an hour.

So it was, then, that Jon and I had the opportunity to see the exhibition on our own and I am hugely grateful that we were allowed to do so. Apart from the wonderful ‘25 paintings’, themselves, there was also ‘The 60 posters’, a bed that Bill has built and is raffling, ‘The house of cards’, maps showing many projects including the soup line and cake circle, some of the knitting that he is inviting people to do while they’re there, a rotation of his sixty second videos, and, wonderfully, his work desk. It was all totally engrossing.

Unsurprisingly, we stayed for far more than five minutes but the chap seemed happy enough, and perhaps he was even more happy when we both bought copies of all of the different books that were for sale.

It’s always odd coming out of an exhibition that’s had an effect on you; I want it to extend out into the real world. Happily, on this occasion, Jon and I had already decided that just because we’d managed to see the exhibition after all didn’t mean we could abandon plan B: finding Bill’s graffiti. (This was made easier, however, as the an in the gallery had give Jon some directions as to how to find it.)

And, indeed, after a ten minute drive to spaghetti junction, and a shortish walk along the canal, we found the graffiti, illuminated by a skylight in the bridge above. It was quite magical. Over the top Bill had put up a series of posters of him in the process of painting his head, which we’d also seen at the gallery.

I don’t know if Bill is a Situationist or what his view of Situationism is but there, under this concrete flyover, across a stagnant canal, using the light, some paint and a series of posters, he managed to create something quite beautiful.

I love him more now than I did this morning,

2 notes

morningmusicshuffle:

Day 75 : Black Cherry by Goldfrapp from Black Cherry
A gentle, ambling electropop song backed up by some good old fashioned analog synths, swooping & bleeping in the background. The addition of a string section towards the end gives it a lush, rich texture. Very pleasant and indulgent.
Serendipity : 10
Love : 7

Sublime track!

morningmusicshuffle:

Day 75 : Black Cherry by Goldfrapp from Black Cherry

A gentle, ambling electropop song backed up by some good old fashioned analog synths, swooping & bleeping in the background. The addition of a string section towards the end gives it a lush, rich texture. Very pleasant and indulgent.

Serendipity : 10

Love : 7

Sublime track!

2 notes

morningmusicshuffle:

Day 69 : This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us by Sparks from Kimono My House
For a long time, the oddball Mael brothers were a hazy memory from the pop-culture of my childhood years. Of course, the internet put paid to that several years ago, and in some ways I regret the passing of that ability (in some situations and especially in music) to stitch together distant memories into vague recollections that tease and excite. Anyway…
Wonderfully progressive, Sparks found unlikely fame in the 70s glam rock scene. It still surprises me how the UK record buying public embraced them. This is an eclectic tune, punctured by staccato drums, falsetto gymnastics, incomprehensible lyrics and chunky guitar.
Serendipity : 7
Love : 9 

morningmusicshuffle:

Day 69 : This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us by Sparks from Kimono My House

For a long time, the oddball Mael brothers were a hazy memory from the pop-culture of my childhood years. Of course, the internet put paid to that several years ago, and in some ways I regret the passing of that ability (in some situations and especially in music) to stitch together distant memories into vague recollections that tease and excite. Anyway…

Wonderfully progressive, Sparks found unlikely fame in the 70s glam rock scene. It still surprises me how the UK record buying public embraced them. This is an eclectic tune, punctured by staccato drums, falsetto gymnastics, incomprehensible lyrics and chunky guitar.

Serendipity : 7

Love : 9 

2 notes

morningmusicshuffle:

Day 50 : Is This Love? by The Fireman from Electric Arguments
The experimental psychedelic noodlings of Paul McCartney and Youth (producer and former Killing Joke bassist). Lots of cymbal shimmers, tom tom dabs and background flutes - its a cross between the trippy bits of The Doors and the slower sections on Carlos Santana.
The album (and The Fireman project) is McCartney harking back to his hippy 60s period. Not your perky music-hall tunes. More reflective and mystical. All credit to him for letting go a bit.
Serendipity : 10
Love : 4

morningmusicshuffle:

Day 50 : Is This Love? by The Fireman from Electric Arguments

The experimental psychedelic noodlings of Paul McCartney and Youth (producer and former Killing Joke bassist). Lots of cymbal shimmers, tom tom dabs and background flutes - its a cross between the trippy bits of The Doors and the slower sections on Carlos Santana.

The album (and The Fireman project) is McCartney harking back to his hippy 60s period. Not your perky music-hall tunes. More reflective and mystical. All credit to him for letting go a bit.

Serendipity : 10

Love : 4

3 notes

'The Quarry' by Iain Banks #briefbookreview
It was my brother who got me into Iain Banks, when he lent me ‘The Wasp Factory’, which I enjoyed, although I didn’t think it was brilliant, just good. And I felt the same way about ‘Consider Phlebas’, his first science fiction book. Over the years, though, I came to love his writing, ‘The Crow Road’ and ‘The Player of Games’ being my favourites in the fiction and science fiction collections, respectively.
He brought out pretty much a novel every year and, as you might expect, the quality was not consistently brilliant, although he was never worse than good. Probably the strongest criticisms that I could make about him are that he was too verbose at times and also occasionally repetitive with his settings and characters. But I bought each book as it came out and I have everything he’s ever written. The only other author I can say that about is Arthur Ransome! Oh, and Harper Lee :-)
Early last year, Banks announced that he had cancer and he passed away just a few months later, leaving us with one final novel, ‘The Quarry’. I didn’t know Iain Banks personally, so the deep sadness I felt about this was reflective of the fact that, abruptly, the annual purchase and enjoyment of one of his books would come to an end. It was perhaps reflective of this that I delayed buying ‘The Quarry’ until Christmas, although I still could not bring myself to open it.
Then, having finished the dense, academic ‘On the Periphery' while away in Aviemore, I was looking for something lively and pacey to follow it, and 'The Quarry' sprang to mind, so I pulled it down off the pile of unread books. I was immediately transported into the setting that Banks had created for the novel, a transition made all the more easy by my familiarity with his writing: it was like embracing an old friend.
As to the book itself, well, it’s great! It’s certainly different from most of his fiction, featuring a cast of largely unlikeable people orbiting a character, Guy, with terminal cancer. There is a central plot device - the location of a missing video tape - but this is almost incidental; the book is primarily a drama based around the characters and their interactions with one another, including the protagonist, Kit, a teenage boy with Aspergers. However, unlike any of Banks’ other novels, this one would work quite easily and effectively as a play.
There are neat twists to the book and Banks makes good use of our preconceptions about character types to pitch several curveballs at the novel’s outset. Even including Kit none of the players in this novel is portrayed without their faults and we’re invited to like some of them, at least, by accepting them as complicated and multi-faceted people, much as we have to in real life. 
The horrible irony is that as he wrote this, Banks himself was dying from cancer and that appears to inform the writing in places, not least in Guy’s spectacular rant about humanity’s failings and the reasons that he is (almost) glad to be dying. I was briefly tempted to transcribe it in full, here, but powerful and corruscating as it is, it works far better in the context of the book, which, as you’ll have gathered, I’m strongly recommending.
It is a great read; I picked up the book on Monday and finished it two days later on my birthday, as I pulled into Oxford Road on the train. As I walked down off the platform, I felt some of that sadness again because I then had to accept that I’ll never read another new novel by Iain Banks. But it was a great place to finish. Yes, as he said, it might have been better to finish with “a great big rollicking Culture novel" but, actually, I’m glad he ended here with a novel that showed he was far from complacent in his writing and with a work that struck out somewhere new.

'The Quarry' by Iain Banks #briefbookreview

It was my brother who got me into Iain Banks, when he lent me ‘The Wasp Factory’, which I enjoyed, although I didn’t think it was brilliant, just good. And I felt the same way about ‘Consider Phlebas’, his first science fiction book. Over the years, though, I came to love his writing, ‘The Crow Road’ and ‘The Player of Games’ being my favourites in the fiction and science fiction collections, respectively.

He brought out pretty much a novel every year and, as you might expect, the quality was not consistently brilliant, although he was never worse than good. Probably the strongest criticisms that I could make about him are that he was too verbose at times and also occasionally repetitive with his settings and characters. But I bought each book as it came out and I have everything he’s ever written. The only other author I can say that about is Arthur Ransome! Oh, and Harper Lee :-)

Early last year, Banks announced that he had cancer and he passed away just a few months later, leaving us with one final novel, ‘The Quarry’. I didn’t know Iain Banks personally, so the deep sadness I felt about this was reflective of the fact that, abruptly, the annual purchase and enjoyment of one of his books would come to an end. It was perhaps reflective of this that I delayed buying ‘The Quarry’ until Christmas, although I still could not bring myself to open it.

Then, having finished the dense, academic ‘On the Periphery' while away in Aviemore, I was looking for something lively and pacey to follow it, and 'The Quarry' sprang to mind, so I pulled it down off the pile of unread books. I was immediately transported into the setting that Banks had created for the novel, a transition made all the more easy by my familiarity with his writing: it was like embracing an old friend.

As to the book itself, well, it’s great! It’s certainly different from most of his fiction, featuring a cast of largely unlikeable people orbiting a character, Guy, with terminal cancer. There is a central plot device - the location of a missing video tape - but this is almost incidental; the book is primarily a drama based around the characters and their interactions with one another, including the protagonist, Kit, a teenage boy with Aspergers. However, unlike any of Banks’ other novels, this one would work quite easily and effectively as a play.

There are neat twists to the book and Banks makes good use of our preconceptions about character types to pitch several curveballs at the novel’s outset. Even including Kit none of the players in this novel is portrayed without their faults and we’re invited to like some of them, at least, by accepting them as complicated and multi-faceted people, much as we have to in real life. 

The horrible irony is that as he wrote this, Banks himself was dying from cancer and that appears to inform the writing in places, not least in Guy’s spectacular rant about humanity’s failings and the reasons that he is (almost) glad to be dying. I was briefly tempted to transcribe it in full, here, but powerful and corruscating as it is, it works far better in the context of the book, which, as you’ll have gathered, I’m strongly recommending.

It is a great read; I picked up the book on Monday and finished it two days later on my birthday, as I pulled into Oxford Road on the train. As I walked down off the platform, I felt some of that sadness again because I then had to accept that I’ll never read another new novel by Iain Banks. But it was a great place to finish. Yes, as he said, it might have been better to finish with “a great big rollicking Culture novel" but, actually, I’m glad he ended here with a novel that showed he was far from complacent in his writing and with a work that struck out somewhere new.

1 note

'On The Periphery' by Christopher E. Young #briefbookreview
Or, to give it the rest of its title, ‘David Sylvian - A biography. The Solo Years’
This book is, if nothing else, a labour of love and, consequently, it is, in places - many places - somewhat obsessive. It’s not a book I’d recommend to anyone who didn’t love David Sylvian, in fact I would hesitate to recommend it to a lot of people who do! 
For a start, the font is small and the text is, therefore, unusually dense, which is completely analogous to the book itself. It is, in many respects, a reference book rather than a narrative. I bought this expecting to read about Sylvian’s post-Japan career in some straight linear prose and, indeed, Young does piece together Sylvian’s movements during that period with great accuracy: lots of bits of stories that I’d heard about Sylvian are neatly and chronologically contextualised.
However, the book has a number of drawbacks, at least from the perspective of someone who just wants to read about Sylvian’s work over the last thirty years. For a start, there is a lot of detail about his collaborators, of which he’s had many. To be honest, much as I am (very) interested in Sylvian, I wasn’t terribly interested in many of these and, if I had been, I would simply have Googled them. That said, I did find Young’s précis of many of Sylvian’s spiritual influences quite interesting and useful, at least in the context of understanding his work. 
In addition, it’s not a terribly musical book: it shares none of the virtues of, say, Ian MacDonald’s ‘Revolution in the Head’. Indeed, there is almost nothing in the book about how the songs were composed or recorded. This is primarily due to the fact that there’s not a single direct interview with Sylvian himself or any of his collaborators, although Young has done a very thorough job of collating and reading Sylvian’s interviews elsewhere. Thus, as you might imagine, the book is largely based on Young’s interpretations of Sylvian’s work, particularly the lyrics. And, on the whole, my impression is that he’s pretty astute although perhaps I simply mean that his interpretations over the thirty years of Sylvian’s solo career are consistent and coherent.
The book itself is full of misprints, which I know - from a brief Twitter conversation with Young - has been a source of frustration to him. Yet this sporadic lack of attention to detail plagues the narrative, too: his passing explanation of the e-bow, for example, leaves the (non-musician) reader at a loss. Furthermore, I don’t think this book really captures Sylvian. This is a man, it seems from what I’ve read elsewhere and as is hinted here, with a great sense of humour: just take a look at the cover of ‘The First Day’ (his collaboration with Robert Fripp). Yet the book paints him as almost intolerably sober.
All that said, I must thank Mr Young for one thing, which is bringing me to the point of enjoying Sylvian’s most recent solo work ‘Manafon’, with which I’d always struggled. Serious fan to serious fan, this is a book that I’m very glad that I’ve read but that I’m also quite relieved to have finished. 
I’ll never read this book again but I expect I will reference it many, many times in years to come. If you understand that I love David Sylvian’s work in a way that I love no one else’s, then that probably tells you all you need to know. And ultimately, I raise hat my Mr Young because this was never a book that was going to top the bestsellers list but he’s done an amazing job of sharing his knowledge and views about a man who, in my opinion, anyway, is one of the most astounding musical innovators of the last four decades.

'On The Periphery' by Christopher E. Young #briefbookreview

Or, to give it the rest of its title, ‘David Sylvian - A biography. The Solo Years’

This book is, if nothing else, a labour of love and, consequently, it is, in places - many places - somewhat obsessive. It’s not a book I’d recommend to anyone who didn’t love David Sylvian, in fact I would hesitate to recommend it to a lot of people who do! 

For a start, the font is small and the text is, therefore, unusually dense, which is completely analogous to the book itself. It is, in many respects, a reference book rather than a narrative. I bought this expecting to read about Sylvian’s post-Japan career in some straight linear prose and, indeed, Young does piece together Sylvian’s movements during that period with great accuracy: lots of bits of stories that I’d heard about Sylvian are neatly and chronologically contextualised.

However, the book has a number of drawbacks, at least from the perspective of someone who just wants to read about Sylvian’s work over the last thirty years. For a start, there is a lot of detail about his collaborators, of which he’s had many. To be honest, much as I am (very) interested in Sylvian, I wasn’t terribly interested in many of these and, if I had been, I would simply have Googled them. That said, I did find Young’s précis of many of Sylvian’s spiritual influences quite interesting and useful, at least in the context of understanding his work. 

In addition, it’s not a terribly musical book: it shares none of the virtues of, say, Ian MacDonald’s ‘Revolution in the Head’. Indeed, there is almost nothing in the book about how the songs were composed or recorded. This is primarily due to the fact that there’s not a single direct interview with Sylvian himself or any of his collaborators, although Young has done a very thorough job of collating and reading Sylvian’s interviews elsewhere. Thus, as you might imagine, the book is largely based on Young’s interpretations of Sylvian’s work, particularly the lyrics. And, on the whole, my impression is that he’s pretty astute although perhaps I simply mean that his interpretations over the thirty years of Sylvian’s solo career are consistent and coherent.

The book itself is full of misprints, which I know - from a brief Twitter conversation with Young - has been a source of frustration to him. Yet this sporadic lack of attention to detail plagues the narrative, too: his passing explanation of the e-bow, for example, leaves the (non-musician) reader at a loss. Furthermore, I don’t think this book really captures Sylvian. This is a man, it seems from what I’ve read elsewhere and as is hinted here, with a great sense of humour: just take a look at the cover of ‘The First Day’ (his collaboration with Robert Fripp). Yet the book paints him as almost intolerably sober.

All that said, I must thank Mr Young for one thing, which is bringing me to the point of enjoying Sylvian’s most recent solo work ‘Manafon’, with which I’d always struggled. Serious fan to serious fan, this is a book that I’m very glad that I’ve read but that I’m also quite relieved to have finished. 

I’ll never read this book again but I expect I will reference it many, many times in years to come. If you understand that I love David Sylvian’s work in a way that I love no one else’s, then that probably tells you all you need to know. And ultimately, I raise hat my Mr Young because this was never a book that was going to top the bestsellers list but he’s done an amazing job of sharing his knowledge and views about a man who, in my opinion, anyway, is one of the most astounding musical innovators of the last four decades.

1 note

"

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.


Albert Einstein

"

Stupid things 

Do animals do stupid things? Would an animal commit an act of utter idiocy and then sit down (if it’s an animal with a bottom and not say, a snake,) and have a word with itself saying, “Well, that sure was dumb.”?

I’m going to say “no”. This means that what really separates us from the beasts is our ability to be utterly, gloriously stupid. I like that. 

Take the time I put my hair in the mangle. I thought I would have hair all smooth and sleek, like a dark glassy lake but instead I had a mangle attached to my head. Similarly, there was the time I attempted to give myself curls after swimming by rolling a comb up in my hair and then had to sit all the way through “The Adventures of Sinbad” with a comb protruding from my ear like an unexploded doodlebug. 

Sometimes we would take turns at putting on my Mum’s shiny nylon housecoat and launch ourselves head first onto an old mattress we had chucked onto the stairs. It was a kind of 70’s homespun version of the skeleton luge, one where the competitors wore Wranglers and gave each other Chinese burns while waiting to compete. Anyway, one time I decided to freestyle a forward roll at the top. We learnt an important lesson about momentum that day. Also minor concussion.

Once I was drunk in a pub when a friend of mine, inspired by the movie Le Hussard Sur Le Toit”  (go to 1.46), started to dip his finger in his whisky and then set light to it. Emboldened by our inebriated admiration, he decided to try it with his nose whereupon his nasal hair went up like a forgotten hedgehog on Bonfire Night. He awoke the next morning a dead ringer for WC Fields. 

So many stupid things. Stripping to your pants and vest and rolling yourself in fibreglass loft insulation in the gang hut, “hiding” a Meri Mate bottle of cola in 4th year arithmetic by pouring the contents on the classroom floor, using two plastic bags as makeshift oven gloves. I could go on. 

Good fun, stupid stuff, as long as you don’t kill yourself in the process. I don’t seem to be so stupid these days. No more tying tin cans to life’s tail, instead I sit quietly while it pads around me and settles in my lap. 

(via therealshequeen)

2 notes