2002. 2 Many DJ’s. Everywhere. As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt. 2. An involuntary aural companion, at times. Inescapable. Nights out. Days in. Who the hell invited you? became the question planted across my chops.
Because ‘No Fun’ by The Stooges and ‘Push It’ by Salt ‘n’ Pepa are the same track, yes? Skee-Lo’s ‘I Wish’ always segues into ‘Cannonball’ by The Breeders – it’s what the record gods intended. Even now, all these years later, whenever I hear a one of the items that comprise this album – at the nail salon or in the type of bar I really shouldn’t be drinking in – my brain instantly starts to make connections. Catching Dolly Parton’s ‘9 to 5’ without it morphing into Röyksopp is just plain fucking wrong. What ‘Waiting For The Man’ always needed was a filthy monologue from Peaches smeared over the top.
So yes, I did spend all of 2002 with a paper bag over my head, flicking the V’s; thank you Soulwax – you have ruined music for me.
Although when I suggest “ruined”, I might mean nothing of the sort. Because we all know by now that when approaching a store stocking vinyl, the thrill is almost sexual in nature. And in 2002, my bank balance took a direct hit from such emporia (see also: every other year). Clinic, and Walking With Thee. Interpol: Turn On The Bright Lights. There’s quite a few contenders for LGM‘s Album of the Year. Discs sent forth into the world by those wielding analogue synths – particularly Light & Magic by Ladytron. Some filed under Scottish album Of the Year (The Delgados – Hate, or Idlewild’s The Remote Part). Those previously written about on these pages (The Last Broadcast by Doves; the Johnny Cash farewell American IV: The Man Comes Around).
Only, now that I have the list in front of me, I’m not certain to what extent immediacy is the common currency. Take The Beginning Stages Of The Polyphonic Spree for example. This album’s allure dwells not in the saccharine poses of it catchy pop aesthetic, or the band’s “cult outing” schick. It doesn’t peak out from behind the LP’s broad canvas orchestration, and it certainly has nothing to do with the central hook of ‘Light & Day’ backstopping the TV commercials of a certain UK supermarket – every single advert break throughout three (or so) long years. Instead, the flavour to this is all about undertone. Dark licks of unorthodox chord progression. The occasional unexpected manoeuvre in the background, as if a shadowy presence was hovering about the recording studio.
There’s also a dark, spectral aspect to 5:14 Fluoxytine Seagull Alcohol John Nicotine. Although in this instance, that spectre is Malcolm Middleton’s frame of mind. This is his début album, extra-curricular from the then extant Arab Strap, and its a wonderful affair – particularly alone, late at night, when morose, fleeting thoughts beginning to flicker like the moth at the solitary light bulb. It comes across as a deeply personal, stripped-back meditation, hints of ’60’s folk singer Jackson C Frank buttressing the confessional timbres. Mostly just Malcolm + acoustic guitar, this carries a thoughtful lustre long after the run out groove; 5:14 is also being re-released on vinyl by Chemikal Underground some vague mid-May morning – you should buy it, when the time comes.
If Tallahassee by The Mountain Goats and The Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots aren’t my favourite albums by each respective outfit, then they certainly come close. Both carry a sheen of quirky detail well-worth repeated listens. Highly Evolved, The Vines’ début long player, carries an exuberant panache that I have filed under: infectious, whilst Songs For The Deaf – Queens Of The Stone Age album #3 – is delivered with rock polish, added texture courtesy of the range of the guests invited to partake.
Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I have issues when it comes to word construction around Godspeed You! Black Emperor records (see also: Explosions In The Sky). The harrowing depth ingrained in the material is intrinsically ill-suited to this particular format of writing. Instead, I’m convinced that to cover the subject with any integrity, you need to mirror the wide open vistas each record exists within. Yanqui U.X.O. begins with such subtle echoes, you’d be forgiven for suspecting a relaxation of template mood– don’t be fooled. For whilst espousing the trademark ambient stylings, the vulcanicity is channelled, sculpted. A refined anger – probably Steve Albini’s finest production – and the overall impression of an angry rock band (or however close Godspeed come to being a traditional rock outfit) intent on a constructive, enticing, and – above all – fermenting rage.
LGM‘s Album Of 2002 is consciously all about interpretation. Opposing parenthesis as a title, eight slices of atmospheric soundtrack without name (beyond “untitled”) – make of it what you will. I’d probably fail to argue that ( ) is the strongest Sigur Rós record (you can look either side of the back catalogue for that), but it does perhaps harbour their most reflective moments. Mood as cadence, as fugue, the vocal lines specifically the next layer of instrumentation – diffused to even further realms. Certain records demand attention in terms of the patterns they function under; interaction that rewards over time, each individual notion and turn of (musical) phrase growing entrenched as understanding (or appreciation) flowers. Which is perhaps not the most overt description of ( ) you’ll ever be reading, yet when the music is intrinsically this scenic, that’s the position a blog such as this will always be taking.
The Polyphonic Spree / It’s The Sun
Malcolm Middleton / Crappo The Clown
Sigur Rós / Untitled #7