Moving Parts

Sampled and copied and covered and coveted, Sinnerman was used by Nina Simone to finish her performances. Incidentally I almost wrote ‘gig’ instead of ‘performances’. When referring to Simone, I’m not sure ‘gig’ quite gives her the cultural docking space she needs.

Either way as I was heading along the A46 Radio 6 Music played the full ten minute version of this track. As I worked the levers and buttons and wheels of my car, maintaining the proper speed and control, I tried to get across to my son what it is that this track does to me. He may have noticed me gently weeping as I spoke.

It’s not that I find this song sad, it’s quite the opposite. I think it’s mainly to do with the absolute machine of a band that accompanies Simone. They are unbelievably tight, and it makes me yearn to be part of something that oiled, that ordered.

A day later, with a friend who has experience of working in the music business, I told her what it is that grabs me about the song. I told her how I longed to be part of a machine like that. I asked her what it’s like. She turned to me as I drove along the same old grey road I’d been pulsing along with my son the day before. Speaking clearly and honestly, she told me experiencing that level of togetherness isn’t something she’s had. That to listen to Simone and her band is to listen to a group of people at the top of their game and, more importantly, at the top of the game. Simply, they have no equal.

I’ve linked the song below.

Enjoy.

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Idle Worship

Often the incongruity of an event/person/piece of art within a certain context that can help us see them for what they are.

My day job involves shuttling the great and the sometimes not so ‘good’ in large, expensive cars. Suffice to say, when the client is away, the radio is played, sometimes at excessive volume. There is a very real pleasure to driving these types of vehicles, dressed in a tailored three-piece, while listening to grime or punk music. There really should be a German compound-noun for this.

While warping along the M4 with the cruise control set to a clear ten-percent-plus-two, SixMusic DJ Lauren Laverne treated all who would listen to Idles’ track Well Done. I haven’t been able to stop talking about it or listening to it since. I nice little bonus is that they are from the city I call home, Bristol.

It’s sometimes difficult to understand the exact nature of Joe Talbot’s lyrics; he seems to be writing from many different view points, sometimes using different perspectives within one song.

The temptation to hail them for the political left is certainly there, but as with all great punk writing it seems to be more about trying to be heard. I think we can all identify with that.

Mother, notably, implies two different competing voices from either side of the political divide, neither of which feel adequate.

Of course, I could be wrong. Listen for yourself, let me know what you think in the comments.

Both Well Done, and my current favourite,  Mother, are linked below.

 

Headphone Commute

One of the Five Standard Small Talk Questions when meeting someone new is,

‘What music do you like?’

I like all music, but I find myself mostly listening to one particular podcast over and over again. Listening to it has me constantly trying to reframe the question: how can I achieve this in prose?

There is a large catalogue of these mixes to chose from but I’d recommend starting where I started, back in 2012, with ‘Analog Caverns And Digital Crypts‘.

Get a little lost in it, find the narrative, and above all, enjoy.

 

 

 

Thinking Time

Sampled over and over it feels like I’ve been listening to various tiny slices of Lyn Collins Think for, well, the total time I’ve been listening to dance music.

Used by funk DJs, MCs, Drum And Base artists and the occasional narcissistic megalomaniac (that’s why we love him) it seems to have no equivalent. If you know of a sample that has been used more, let me know.

It’s hard to think of something more different from Think than Square Pusher’s Come On My Selector. Layered and anarchic, it’s coke and coffee with a video by Chris Cunningham to blow your little socks off. Listen hard, though; Think  is in there.

So let me type this for the first of many times:

Your art is boundless, is comes from the smallest of places and fills the largest of spaces. You can twist and manipulate anything.

Now, watch my favourite music video and use it to go create something.

That’s an order.

 

Worn Words

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The origins of the term Folk Music are based in the snobbery of a Victorian antiques enthusiast. Folklore, wrote William Thoms (are) ‘the traditions, customs, and superstitions of the uncultured classes’.

The term as it’s used today seems to assume some deep mystical past but in fact refers only to the music that was unclassified before people like William Thoms came along to look down upon it.

For me, the term applies to any song that tells a narrative. If the song tells me a story with a beginning, middle and end then it’s someone’s tale, a Folk Tale.

Alt-J’s song 3WW (Three Worn Words) sets out an opening with no words. For the first thirty seconds or so it seems like a backing track or interlude, then things change. A rolling guitar enters and you realise that you’ve heard the start up sequence of something more. The first lyrics are sung in a way that we all know is the sound of Folk proper. As the story develops the vocalist seems less sure of himself. We’re treated to a sudden crescendo, another verse and then another person’s POV.

At five minutes long Alt-J are asking quite a lot of radio programmers with a short eye on big audiences with small attention spans. As a story, though, as a piece, it’s perfect.