Guest post. There’s some wonderful writing out there, buried beneath the usual narcissistic posturings of the internets’ dumber quadrants. And Before The First Kiss is a great example – James Joyce if he’d grown up on William Burroughs and records by The Vaselines.
Earlier this month I wrote some words on Talk Talk, aware even as the string of characters came together that I wasn’t really affording the subject mater justice – this is a band specifically rooted in dense and alluring modals, complex and shimmering. So to rectify matters, I asked And Before The First Kiss – unfortunately hidden, on hiatus, possibly never to return (sob) – for his interpretation. That strictly speaking I didn’t receive words on Talk Talk – well, it matters not; as the picture suggests, you know where to file – LGM.
I had appreciated this blurring sentiment before but never so readily apparent or stupidly obtuse. My errant fingers just didn’t want to dance. I had sat down to write something about Mark Hollis, yet again. This happens far too often to be a fleeting curse. And as usual I felt that ‘sting’ in the tips, you know, but it had nowhere to be directed. It is quite difficult to write with any sense of ‘end game’ purpose or ‘artistic’ intent about Hollis. Many have tried, of course, but it’s that epic/pointless struggle to convey feelings into words. Where, why, how…. just come back to us, please? It is ultimately heard in your soul, not read on a screen. The music is out there to be claimed; from early electro-pop strolls to acoustic-silent wanderings. But the words aren’t here and patience needs to be a virtue. It’s another part of the equation that will need to do for now. Tim Friese-Greene: musician, magician, producer, prophet. An elegant party-trick or two was never far away from his thumbs and fingers. How they must have stung into those claustrophobic late nights with an acoustic mood and harmony abandoned, circa Spirit of Eden. It was always a case of guess-work; is he in or is he out? It was a game played in circles and stones outside of the box. Performing and producing, very much, but staying deliberately clear of any projected identity or collective memory. There is almost no visible association in still or moving public image, throughout that chapter of Talk Talk’s grand narrative. He was no bit-player when Hollis appeared; previous (new wave) work with Zones, Dolby, Blue Zoo and others testified to untethered skills and talent. But with Hollis et al the improvised adventure of creative spirit abounded. Hands held tight, fears conquered, led astray on a path with no fences and pretty soon the likes of Lush, Catherine Wheel and others called round to play, after the watershed (so to speak). The party was over but also still beginning for Tim and his collected works. And so came time for the man himself, taking a voyage to the mysterious island of Heligoland (‘Grön es det Lunn / Road es de Kant / Witt es de Sunn’). Not literally, we must assume, but a daytrip to another kind of sound, another form of feeling. ‘File Under Talk Talk’ was a demand, surely, for a recognised stamp of approval as much as it was a telling, rather literal, joke for those in the know. And it worked; a crashing fusion of searing guitars, exotic percussion, dirt-road vocals and enforced silences somehow working in a minimalized yet amplified style. He wore your influences very well, I suspect, before tinnitus came sadly calling and your walking man website ground to a kicked halt. But now an example, soak it in and be careful where you let those fingers dance. Next time Hollis, for sure.