Tuesday, May 13, 2008

40 days

Some songs are just so good, you cannot stop listening to them. Then you don't listen to them, maybe for years, and then they are brilliant all over again.

I was reminded of Slowdive's 40 days when listening to Lali Puna, who cover it. Lali Puna are German electropop, a million miles from shoegazer music, but their cover is pretty good.

The original is better; one of the best shoegazer tracks made. The music is quintessentially English; no other place could have given birth to the Scene that Celebrates Itself, even though Slowdive were clearly influenced by West Coast pop and even the laidback cowboy music exemplified by Hazelwood and Sinatra (Nancy obv.).

Strangely, I'm a bigger fan of music that is influenced by both those genres than of the genres themselves, although I do have time for the Byrds and some cowboy music, particularly Neil Young's more cow-laden stuff. (More careful readers will have noted that Neil Young is something of a bridge between these traditions; it's not surprising that someone should be, because these are simply offshoots of a common American songwriting tradition.


So after 40 days, I'm listening to Ulrich Schnauss's Letter from home. Schnauss's drifting nu shoegaze comes at it from a different angle: he's clearly aware of techno, whereas shoegazers were totally rock, and Schnauss is far from American influenced. There is something distinctively central European about him.

So I'm putting it on shuffle and I'll take what comes. Which is a motif for me. I've stopped trying to analyse and interpret the world and just to let it happen for a while. So I'm not stressing out about my progress in poker, just working at it; not thinking about my working life, just doing the work (too much of it; although too much of course means more money than not enough); not fretting over living here, just enjoying the blue skies; and not getting worked up about my marriage, which has improved to the point of not being completely unpromising because I decided that there was a route to getting what I wanted, and pursued it (whether I actually get what I want is another matter).

So 505 by the Arctic Monkeys has segued into a jazzy bit of Squarepusher, which I'm not enthusiastic about right now. Let's flick it.

So it's Djed by Tortoise. Whether a 20-minute piece of postrock is what the doctor ordered remains to be seen (or heard, I suppose). On the whole, Tortoise are about half as good as they are made out to be. But they are made out to be greats, so half of that is not at all bad. Sometimes though they seem like a joke that you don't quite understand, but you're sure is really hilarious if you could.

So I went for dinner the other night at Southern Spice. The clientele was almost entirely Indian, and that's rare for around here, even though there's quite a large Indian population on the southside. It was soon obvious why. The cuisine is authentic southern Indian, with a few scattered northern dishes and some Goan stuff too.

One of my favourite things to eat is sambar. I loved it in south India, where it is a standard side dish, but you don't get it elsewhere. Not in the UK, because cooks there are mostly from the north, particularly Gujarat, and tend to cook richer, meat-based food; and not here, because most Indian places are run by chancers who have no more idea of Indian cuisine than I do, and in some cases less. But Southern Spice had authentic sambar. I don't know what the taste is that I love in that--maybe tamarind. I've bought some tamarind paste and some garam masala that looked close enough to sambar powder, and I'll give that a go in something lentil based. It would be great to get something reasonably close. I'd literally eat it all the time.

I'm tired of Tortoise's noodling. You have to be in the mood, I guess. So it's Pink + green by Venetian Snares instead. Which is pretty good if you like that kind of thing, and you probably don't, but I do. It's a frantic mashup of deep bass, weird sampled voices, all over the place drums and off-kilter noises. You wouldn't describe it as having a tune, but it works. Kind of.

Apparently, Venetian Snares uses a tracker to make his music, the same as I do. Mine isn't quite as pro though, lol. It suddenly drops off into something from Mark Hollis's solo album

Man, is that record good! I only found out it existed a month or two ago. Hollis was the main man in Talk Talk. You might or might not remember their early 80s stuff, which you could file alongside Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, although I find it stronger material on the whole. They came very close to being huge with the album The colour of spring (same title as the song I'm listening to, interestingly enough), which featured hits like Life's what you make it and Living in another world, but with one foot in the stadium, Hollis took a turn for a much moodier, deeper sort of music. At the time, Spirit of Eden was quite astonishing. Way to destroy his career. But what an expression of his talent. Having destroyed his career (which although Eden sold well enough, he pretty much had done), he topped Eden with Laughing stock, a brilliant, experimental, deeply moving album. If you love reflective music, ambient, soft jazz even, you may find you like Laughing stock. I don't often listen to it, because I find it so engrossing, so touching. If you're familiar with David Sylvian after Japan, you know the kind of thing we are talking about, although I find Hollis much better to listen to.

I thought that was that for him, but he did make the solo album, and it's gorgeous. It barely moves; just shimmers and shuffles. It's not as substantial as Laughing stock (by which I mean it's less meaty, not that it is not well realised). It's a little closer to Eden in terms of song structure. It's a real pity he didn't have any more left in him after this, but I don't know how he'd top it.

Well, probably I couldn't stand it, because this kind of sensitive music of delicate gestures is so English that it makes me nostalgic for the rolling hills of home. Still, I'm going to be seeing them in November. It feels as though I am going to see a lover that I have glamourised, making her more attractive and ignoring her flaws, but the truth is, I love my home however she looks and however flawed she is. Expect plenty of boring travelogues.

So I have to go. I have to take Zenella to her tennis lesson. The rain did not stop play this week, which is just as well, because I can't focus on work today, even though I have a lot on. Before I take her, I will need to rub some cream on the dragon on my chest. You don't get to say that every day.


Anonymous P. said...

One post that doesn't sound like you want to die and your readers desert your comments? Shameful.

Well I'm pleased for you. I hope your life continues to improve in the same vein. Fuck knows you could use a slice of the happy pie.

I will be forced to unsubscribe if you become nauseatingly chipper, however.

May 14, 2008 at 9:25 PM  

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