I owe Underworld a great deal. If it hadn't've been for Dubnobasswithmyheadman taking residence on my stereo and in my head during my first year of Uni, I'd probably still be listening to... well, I shudder to think. Maybe I'd be of the opinion that Kaiser Chiefs represented British rock at its mercurial best? Or that James Blunt was a sensitive and engaging artiste with a voice like old honey, rather than an unutterable ballsak with a voice like gagging on sick. Who's to say? I do know that, before Underworld, and with only a few honorary precursors (The Shamen, The Orb), the music I liked had to have choruses, guitars, drums; the indie litany, all present and correct.
But Dubnosbass was a passport to a quite different sonic dimension (having already turned down The Prodigy's earlier and (then) less appealing promise to take my brain to said other dimension): not only was it a thunderous and beguiling album in its own right, it was as if someone had just turned the colour on. Suddenly, I got the point of beats, could see the possibilities of 4/4; realised that I'd be listening to music like this from then on.
So when we learned we could combine our trip to Japan with a chance to see Underworld, Andrew Weatherall, Simian Mobile Disco and a couple of locals acts, we were cock-a-hoop (which turned to ecstasy-on-toast when we managed to get tickets to see Daft Punk in Kobe). On the other hand, their most recent album, Oblivion With Bells, sounded a bit vanilla on the few, admittedly not close, listens I8d given it. Were the band finally reaching the end of their productive span after the better part of 20 years?
Tish and nonsense. On the evidence of last night's gig in the cavernous Makuhari Messe in Tokyo (easily sold-out), Underworld are, if anything, at the peak of their powers. They played a truly mammoth set of crowd-pleasers, roof-raisers and floor-shakers and had the crowd of 20,000 staggeringly stylish Japanese and two not-quite-so stylish-thank-you-very-much westerners reaching a state the Buddhists call satori but I call ohmygodthatwasAMAZING. Samurai dancing, beat bushido: whatever it was, we were going off. A song like Rowla, for instance, became a frightening acid squall; a frankly barbaric King Of Snake was divine, unending; even the new songs seemed little short of perfect. From
They hit us with the ever-circling beat-storm of Pearl's Girl, and followed it with a euphoric Two Months Off. Ahh those synths. I wanted it all to stop. I never wanted it to stop. They finished with Moaner, a song I'd never really come to terms with in the past; and yet, in the context, it was spell-binding, Karl Hyde throwing Elvis poses in his glittering silver jacket, ranting in the purple spotlight like the scary but lovable cockney loon we know him to be. Toss in a towering Cowgirl and a delirious Born Slippy, and you've got the mother and father of all live shows. Shock and awe doesn't cover it.
They play an encore of Jumbo, the blissful synths and gaseous pads a relief from the frenzy of the last two+ hours, and we walked (!) back to our hotel to some dubstep from Weatherall, before losing consciousness at around 4am.
There's no WAY that Daft Punk can top that. Right?
Apologies for having been away so very long. Since we've A) packed up our entire lives and left Australia, B) spent a rather crazed month traveling in China and C) found ourselves in the middle of Japan, updating this blog has been both tricky AND hard. As the ad very nearly says, Impossible Is Something.
Oh yes, and D). I lost my iPod. 80gbs worth of music down the wazoo, just like that. So, apart from Radiohead's album, I've had very little new music to listen to. And yet, apart from the embarrassment and anger of losing such a valuable piece of hardware (and a birthday present to boot), I don't feel too bad. It means I can start all over again. I will only upload albums that I WILL listen to.
This is my pledge, and I will keep it. Definitely.
The man Barrie on McCarthy's frighteningly good The Road. Nothing to add really, except to say that Blood Meridian is in my top five books EVAH ("What are the others?" I'm not telling**), not least because I could reliably freak Shana out by reading aloud from its blood-soaked pages (not literally blood-soaked, I hope you understand. That would be weird), especially the first Indian attack, the poor horse bitten on the face by a snake, and the final hallucinatory scenes with the Judge and the Kid.
*Though, to be fair, I only got hold of it in my last couple of weeks in Australia, when finding time to give albums the Deep Listen was far from easy.
** " Cos you don't know", etc.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Sunday, July 29, 2007
It's possible to having fleeting moments of scepticism when it comes to user-generated content. Sometimes, the last thing I want to see is other people's videos on YouTube; and the great mass of commentors on The Guardian's Comment Is Free make me want to instigate revolution; oh yes, and I've been burnt by Wikipedia, and the episode with the Dolphins*.
But this: this is genuinely fantastic. The only trouble being, it doesn't actually exist yet. Nevertheless, if they can get even a small fraction of this project off the ground, it will become a breathtaking resource. I'd be keen to know a bit more of the detail of who gets to edit (Professional biologists, right?), but otherwise, where do I sign up?
*When, in the course of writing a feature on songs about various mammals (why? Search me), I had cause to use Wikipedia for some facts, and found myself reading some mentalist screed about our dolphin overlords, come to rule the world, etc.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
I absolutely hate it when this happens. I got the Bat For Lashes album Fur and Gold a good six months ago. Yet for some reason, I only listened to it last week. Actually, I know why. Too much music. Too many new albums, too many old albums, too many mixes, too many MP3s, too many damn podcasts. Make it stop. Except you don't want it to stop, because you might miss an album like this.
I think the problem must have been the initial reviews damned it with faint praise: "Bjork-lite", "Batty by name, batty by nature", "weird". I should have known then that this was laziness of the first order (I've never been lazy when it comes to describing music, no sir, no way). It's true up to a point that singer Natasha Khan has a singing timbre not a million miles from Bjork's - but to compare to Bjork suggests a similarity of styles that really isn't there most of the time (especially not in later Bjork).
What is similar is a sense of listening to something both precious and mysterious, full of meaning that can't quite be grasped. "Creatures of mercy/Shoot them down, set me free," sings Khan with the kind of conviction that Bjork brought to songs like "Isabelle" and, especially, "Pagan Poetry". And "Tahiti" has the same crystalline beauty of Vespertine's best songs. But mostly I'm hearing the magic and sensuality of Kate Bush. In other places, there's a similarity to Goldfrapp's first album; plush and romantic, full of harpsichords and plucked strings, sinuous Theremins and harmonies, kettle drums, spoken word interludes.
Either way, the album is like stepping into the kind of dream I would have when I was young, full of forests and wolves and hunters and danger.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Just finished reading Sarah Waters' "The Nightwatch". Terrific book with a novel structure: The story starts in 1947, before moving to 1944 and the so-called "mini-blitz" before ending with 1941, the Blitz proper, and the first meeting of most of the characters. So, by the very way it's put together, the story continually reveals information about what's gone before. Featuring: Christian Scientists, conscientious objectors, dentists moonlighting as abortionists and a whole gaggle of friends of Dorothea.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Now this is fucking blistering, and I don't use the bad word lightly. What a simple idea. Take a techno track with scattered vocal fragments rippling through the hi-gloss fabric: "Wish", "eeeh" etc; take various frenzied clankings and spastik sound events and gothik synths and peculiar chants, then build up the beats and the bass-spring and the intensity, and then, just when it's really ticking, introduce us to the cry of the alien tripods from War of the Worlds, like a psychotic fog-horn. Scared the willies out of me the first time. And then every other time too. The A-Side, Balandine, is equally unhinged, a vicious bass-riff being submerged beneath hard Detroit beats.
Frenzied, epic, orchestral, this is techno at its best.
Monday, June 18, 2007
In which the Chemical Brothers continue their ineluctable slide toward the awful. I've given it a few tries now, and the question keeps coming up: when and why would I listen to this? When it's sonically affecting (which is not often), I still can't help wonder what I could be listening to that would deliver the same payoff at least twice as hard. The beats used to fun or hard or dirty or some thrilling combination of the three; now they mostly just sit there. The psychedelia, already largely in retreat with Push The Button, has all but disappeared, and the songs just aren't memorable enough.
The title track never gets going, the Midlake track is banal, and I never want to hear the nonsense with Willy Mason or god help us the Klaxons again. Easily the most enjoyable track is The Salmon Song with Fatlip, and that's the one that sounds least like the Chems. Maybe I need to listen a few more times. It's just that right now, doing that sounds like a chore; something I never thought I'd be saying about a Chems album.
There comes a time when the running must stop, when one must confront the very thing from which one flees. To drain the poison, to exorcise the demon. Otherwise, that which you've tried to erase will always be there at the threshold of consciousness, leering and gibbering like a maniac.
All of which is by way of saying that The Travelling Wilburys albums have been re-released. Well, I'm not afraid any more. I'm going to look my demon square in the face and say "You can't beat me, Lord Baal!" And at that point, my psychic wounds will heal and I will be accepted with love into a balmy sunlit world of joy and grace.
Forgive the saturnalia of sarcasm, but the Wilburys first album also happens to be the first album I really loved, with the possible exception of Cloud Nine by George Harrison. In a time before U2, or The Cure, or any number of later obsessions, I listened to Volume 1 hundreds of times. It struck me as the very acme of what music could do.
"Handle Me With Care". Yes! Handle me with care - such prescience! Handle me with care, lest I crumple beneath the combined weight of your breezy youthless genius. "Tweeter and the Monkey-Man". It turns out that Bob Dylan had recorded plenty of albums and songs before this, and that some of these were, and still are, thought to be good. Am I ashamed to admit that "Tweeter" was the first Bob Dylan song I ever loved? Yes; but there it is.
On the other hand, I've no intention of re-listening to either record. What if the healing rays of musical hope turn out to be mere overpolished session rock, with all the fragrant charm of an o'er-brimming chamberpot? No, I'll just have to stay repressed, to keep that little scaley demon fellow fed and watered and hopefully becalmed. Otherwise, I’m likely to find myself posting on the genius of George Michael's "Jesus to a Child".
That way damnation lies.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
You gotta love The Guardian's Simon Hattenstone, even if he does support Manchester City. He's easily one of their best interviewers, and here are two links that prove it.
The first is his now notorious interview with Lou Reed. I don't think I'm spilling any trade secrets if I say that Reed is a legendary fucknut; rude, curmudgeonly and possessed of the thinnest skin this side of Barry Gibb, but with nowhere near that man's level of talent. Anyway, Simon interviewed him, and was bullied mercilessly from start to finish. Painful stuff.
But Hattenstone is game throughout, even as Reed refuses to answer even the simplest question: "Reed makes me feel like an amoeba. I want to cry. Look, I was a huge fan of yours, I say. " Was ?" he sneers. I still am, I say, but I'm less sure by the second."
"Why are you so aggressive to me? What have I done to you? Why are you being so horrible?"
Simon's Interview with Reed
Frankly, I'd have given up long ago (after messily bespattering Reed with camel excrement). But then there's this rather fine new interview with Paul McCartney. I've always had a soft spot for Macca, mainly because the obviously cool move has always been to laud John and, latterly, George. Well screw that. Anyway who can festoon my childhood with singing frogs (oh, and all those Beatles songs) gets my respect.
Anyway, for just about the most succesful musician in history, and for someone going through the mother and father of all divorces, he's always seems open and ready to give. So put a slightly vulnerable McCartney togther with Hattenstone, and you get an interview like this:
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Is this the sort of record you give to someone who professes to hate techno, or is it exactly the kind of record they would hate? Dunno. But I love it. The simple drum patterns, the micro-snatches of pop songs you can't quite recognise, chopped up and then streched across the airy synth dronescape like so many deliquesent clocks. "Kappsta", which was on Kompakt's Pop Ambient 2007 collection, is eerily gorgeous, a balletic glide through the upper atmosphere of some billowing gas giant, and is a good place to hear the basic trick in action, which involves endlessly delaying the chord changes so that when they come they're sudden rays of sunlight. "Everyday" is monstrous, building (or should that be tunnelling?) into a furious chant.
It's true that the record shares more than a little DNA with trance. But then, trance never had this monumental and geometric beauty before, constructed of interlocking planes of sound.
Plus, "On The Ice" samples Kate Bush, so it must be good, right?
Friday, March 30, 2007
Hands up who remembers Levitation? Exactly. They were one of those early nineties bands, not even as popular as Cud, Kingmaker or Carter USM; and now all but forgotten. They released a couple of EPs and a less than successful album. Diminishing returns set in quickly. The singer left, the band struggled on; over and out. And yet. This was a band I'd loved with an intensity I've rarely managed subsequently, a sound-track to a brief phase hallucinogenic adventure; a band that, unlike previous obsessions like REM or The Cure, I can still listen to now and hear fresh things, detect in their quicksilver sound the seeds that grew into a later love for Radiohead, say, or Talk Talk, or Krautrock, or even for techno blissed-out soundworlds.
Levitation were launched in an era that seems impossibly remote to me now: 1990. (Stop sniggering). Here are some facts about Levitation that date them as completely as their dodgy hair-cuts. The Melody Maker raved about them. This places them at the dawn of the nineties not merely because the Melody Maker is now defunct but because the music press, ie. the NME, is now a market-tested corporate product giving the kids what they want by editorial fiat; the weird shit (i.e. black music) can go hang*. So yer Arctic Monkey’s albums get 10 out of 10 by diktat of the editor, and journalistic integrity is conspicuous by its absence. In our day (yes, it really were all green fields round here), the MM cover would be regularly hijacked by various writer’s current obsessions, hence atrocities like Romo. But the atrocities meant that something like love was still shaping the editorial agenda. The fact that Levitation could and did make the cover is a reminder that once upon a time, the popular music press had a mandate to lead, not to follow.
Before Britpop, and everything that’s flowed unstoppably forth ever since (like a torrent of stinking effluvia you say? I couldn’t possibly comment), there was shoe-gaze. Say what you like about this era, it was one of the last times, at least when it came to popular alternative guitar music, that the sound was paramount. No-one wanted to be bigger than The Beatles. No-one wanted to duet with Paul Weller. Instead, bands battled to outdo each other with the pulverizing originality of their music. Immersive and molten, glistening and asexual, this was the music that was waggishly described as a ‘sonic cathedrals of sound’. Grunge, the parallel movement in America, was, in its earliest forms, in thrall to similarly expansive sounds.
All this is by way of saying that when we first got into alternative music in a big way (and by ‘we’, I mostly mean Barrie and me. Barrie was the finest bass-player that Byron Way had ever produced; but popular success was elusive, and the band broke up, leaving only rumours of a demo tape, more whispered about than actually heard), the music we were hearing in the mainstream seemed far odder, far bolder, than music you could just happen across today. For instance, The Chart Show, ITV’s Saturday lunchtime music vid show, would regularly show outrageously bleary, homemade videos for oddly-named bands with songs that seemed to stretch the definition of 'song', such as My Bloody Valentine or Spacemen 3.
So into this came Levitation. I remember reading about the band twice in the MM. They got some startling press. Steve Sutherland had written two pieces that suggested that Levitation were the only band in the WORLD doing anything remotely relevant. A feature had pushed the notion that the band were heralds of something called the New Prog. A live review read like a dispatch from an early Stooges or Velvet Underground gig: barely controlled forces, tension in the air, a deranged frontman, anything could happen. The band plug in; everyone goes totally APESHIT.
But I still hadn’t heard them. I’m not going to pretend I was a commited listener to John Peel, God rest him, and I don’t recall listening to many other radio shows where I would have happened across them. No, this was the era of taking your pennies and then taking a punt on whatever had been recommended in that week's Melody Maker. Our local emporium was the Uxbridge Our Price, where you were allowed to test-drive the records before you bought them, and which turned out to be the site of a startling epiphany.
I’ve been out of the UK for four years now, so I’m not entirely sure what happened to Our Price – I think it was sold to Virgin and started selling mobile phones, but I could be wrong - but certainly it went more and more mainstream, selling more and more chart product and less and less back catalogue. Yet, back then, this particular branch (a time when the Uxbridge music hipperati worked there. I saw my first Nirvana t-shirt on a staff member, long before I heard any of their music) had been the site of several of spectacular discoveries. American Music Club’s Everclear. Swan’s Love Of Life (All on cassette, natch). I even remember Barrie buying his first Smiths album there. A big deal in other words. But the discovery of Levitation was something else again.
Our Price still had a large-ish section of 12” singles, soon to disappear, in which we found a copy of Levitation’s second EP, After Ever. We took it up to the counter and asked if we could have a listen. Track one, Firefly. We’re listening on the headphones, taking turns. It’s fairly humdrum guitar thing, something about ‘a sunrise child”. A bit disappointing, since we’re into Ride and feedback and the like. So when, at the 40 second mark, the music took a screaming handbreak turn into another dimension for a few white-hot seconds, before settling back down as if nothing had ever happened, we both practically shit ourselves. It’s the first time I felt the power of music to blindside, to drop your jaw, to make you giggle with sheer what-the-fuck delight.
So who on earth were they, and what did they think they were doing, messing with our heads so comprehensively? They were led by arch-mentalist Terry Bickers, erstwhile guitarist and refugee from the House Of Love. That band had imploded amid rumours of a biblical drug-fuelled animus between Terry and lead singer Guy Chadwick. The band had been round the block a bit, which meant they could play, and that they had taste. There was Can, Talk Talk, Talking Heads, King Crimson, all manner of art-punk, The Cardiacs, plenty of deeply uncool stuff like Steve Hillage and God knows how much prog rock. Yet they synthesized that into something quite brilliant, a bands by turns cacophonous and bewitching, rampaging and beguiling. The spiraling guitar work of Bickers and elfin sideman Bic Hayes, plus the pop-eyed octopoid frenzy of drummer Dave Francolini ensured there was nothing remotely mannered about their music.
But it was more than the music. The EP itself was a piece of art. So many of the Eps then looked exquisite. Ride’s Today EP, with its close-up detail of a shark – perhaps an oblique retort to their previous covers, which had featured such prototypically shoe-gazey images as flowers and penguins (awwww) – and Curve’s first singles, and not forgetting the gauzy dreamscapes of the Verve’s first singles. But first EP Coppelia was something else. A photomontage, it featured an overfeathered remnant of prehistory, a lyre bird crossed with a pelican, with a pair of scissors for a beak, lumbering across a Jurassic lake. The After Ever EP was similarly mind-blowing. It had a tree-frog with the head of a frilled lizard, with a pair of giant eyes staring at you from the ruff. The beast was clambering over a pile in mushrooms, in the middle of an endless dune sea. Both Eps were bordered with strange flora and lettering, typography from an imaginary grimoire or bestiary. Everything connected with Bickers’ aesthetic vision: a psychedelic embrace of the natural sublime.
Reading the above may cause some people be a little bit sick into their own mouths: It all sounds a bit too Kula Shaker for comfort. And it’s true that when you hear talk of the spiritual, you can be sure a torrent of bollocks is heading your way. But on the other hand, I’ve always felt that a belief in rationality and humanism needn't stand in opposition to an appreciation of the sublime. In fact, the proper reaction to the natural world is awe. That’s my spirituality, if we have to call it that. Energy fields and crystals and homeopathy are all obstacles to appreciating what Larkin called elsewhere the billion-petalled flower of existence. So I never felt Levitation were talking shit per se. I believed that. For what it's worth I still do.
Their single best song was Paid In Kind, the third track on Coppellia, and a terrific example of the way they could thrillingly accelerate mid-song, with sky-piercing riffs blazing away. Opening like an alien mantra with spectral harmonies and a febrile bassline, tha band builds pressure in each galloping verse, thanks to a claustrophobic beat. Then the chorus surges unstoppably forward on a wave of guitar. Then all the music falls away before Bickers intones: “How can I sleep when my heart’s on fire? How can I rest with the flames getting higher?” Then the most spine-tingling drawn-out build-up, before the light finally floods, the music surging free. It’s one of my all time favourite moments in music, and structurally identical to all those techno breakdowns that I’ve sought out so eagerly ever since.
The other strand of their shtick concerned the power of visionary drugs. Bickers in particular seemed to be a cheerleader for the mind-opening effects of psychedelics, as well a convert to the idea that mass ingestion would make society better by tuning it into the ancient rhythms of the earth. Moreover, a great deal of the music on the first two EPs sounds fizzily lysergic, a barely controlled storm of incandescent and delirous sound. Their signature song “Smile” has Bickers crooning “let the experience begin” as the see-saw riff stops bulldozing and is suddenly seen through a kaleidoscope, the song going in three ways at once. Or on “Rosemary Jones”, again from the Coppellia EP, a kind of acid trip mimesis, full of gaudy synaesthetic effects; hypermaniacal super-squiggly guitars and woozy stereoscopic effects. As the blood gets thicker and the trip comes on, Bickers speaks the listener’s mind: “You’re taking it all just a little too far this time”. His voice then liquefies into streams of multi-tracked “too far, too fars”, and the frenetic guitars start describing mazy curlicues in the quickening soundscape. We badly need a friendly face in the maelstrom. So when the chorus comes in, over exultant and mercifully composed major chords, the relief is sweet: “You know you’re with friends, so why be frightened?”
But the fact was, I found it all too possible to get frightened. The auditory hallucinations caused by LSD, an effect I'd initially found so entrancing, begun to be overwhelming. Any given chord, three notes say, might be said to exist in time - it starts here and ends there – and to have a particular depth – this is the lowest note, this is the highest note. Simple. But on acid, the psychophysics of the chord became Byzantine in their complexity. A chord no longer starts here and ends there; it begins before it even starts, it never really ends, it goes in all directions at once; and the simple harmony of three notes now becomes the harmony of three notes cubed and then squared again. One note would sound like Bach at his most polyphonic. So on a really strong trip, it becomes possible to spend an age being awe-struck at the sublime, poly-dimensional, architectonic sculptural magnificence of what would turn out to be just the tiny hum of static before the actual song has begun. This is problematic: there’s not much headspace left to get your head round the song when it really does kick off. It’s like breaking down in tears at the cosmic magnificence of a molehill; and then seeing Mt Everest. Catatonia is the only valid response.
This, as you might imagine, can be a terrifying experience. My final trip was too intense for precisely this reason. Listening to The Orb that last time, everything became simply too alien, music made by minds catastrophically different from our own, then by no minds at all, then not even music. The last thing I remember was a distressing vision of a cosmic centipede, writhing in time to the beats, bigger than galaxies. That I could just about live with. After that, the images become too distorted to recall. I don’t remember how long this went on for, but it was bad. I do remember that I had to remove the headphones and turn on the radio very quietly, in the desperate hope of hearing music so rigid and boring, so blandy mediocre, it would calm me down (silence definitely didn’t the trick. The sound of your own blood music turned into something supermassive and incomprehensible would be extremely frightening). Anything with even the faintest originality in sound or design would trigger a shattering billion-fold reflection that would prolong the trip. So I found a Cliff Richard song on a commercial station. I gradually came back into earth’s orbit. Cliff, I’m grateful. There, I’ve said it.
Coming soon: Part 2. The debut album; the live experience; watching it all fall apart.
*A sorry day – MM was the first ever music magazine I picked up, and for many years was clearly to be preferred to the NME. I can reliably date an interest in alternative music, as opposed to U2 etc, to picking up an issue in a newsagents in Newquay, Cornwall, reading in puzzlement reviews of Bossanova by the Pixies and of a band called Dred Zeppelin, who apparently peddled dub versions of Led Zeppelin with some kind of Elvis impersonator singing. Seventeen years later, the thought occurs that this might not be such a terrible idea, followed by the thought, what have I become?
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I had the very great misfortune to be watching Swordfish the other night. If you've seen it, you'll offer the hearftfelt commiserations of a fellow sufferer. It is truly dreadful in that way only a film with John Travolta and Vinnie Jones can be.
What really elevated the film into the realm of the truly authentically awful was the dialogue. Welcome to Exposition hell, part 1.....
This Halle Berry, on first meeting Hugh Jackman's 'character':
"You know, for a man that, four years ago, was the CIA's most wanted hacker, you sure have a bad golf-stroke!"
What? Hello? Welcome to the world of the non-sequiter.
Even more enjoyable was Jackman emotional exchange with his ex-wife about his daughter, where Hugh feels the need to apprise his wife of a datum she may not have been au fait with.
HER: " Harry's looking after her now"
HE: : "But Harry's the porn-king of California!"
Wonderful. I tell you this, but naturally David Mamet tells it better...
Wait. You're wondering who or what (or indeed why) is The Enormous Yes?
Good question, deserving of a better answer than the one I'm about to give, but them's the breaks.
Enormous Yes is a center of gravity attracting anything and everything of interest to itself. Open-minded (but at both ends pace Northrop Frye), SM will rant, fulminate, comment, lazily sneer, excitedly hiccup and generally make an unseemly noise about those items in the world (ideosphere? Memesphere? No, I think World will do). Why? Because if it didn't it would cease to exist.
Onano Ergo Sum.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
I love Cortney Tidwell. I adore Don't Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up. OK, maybe it flags just a teensy bit toward the end, but the first six or seven songs are pure aural erotica, like having your ear-drums gently tickled by french maids. What's in there? There's a little Sundays in the delicate guitar, a little Bjork in the melodies; the whole thing is hazy, gaudy, almost claustrophobic, a feminine version of the feedback-nirvana of American Music Club's Everclear.
Like Proust and his madeleine, listening to Cortney transports me to a sunbaked field in Glastonbury, the narcotic blues of Spiritualized mingling with the marijuana smoke and wafting across the blissed-out supine crowd. I'm high, I'm gazing into the infinite blue as it's crossed by a wispy contrail, I'm happy.
So it's not just the fragile drone drapery of Cortney Tidwell that get me giddy. It's also the billowing noise beats of Mark Holden's At The Controls, where Mad Professor meats Death In Vegas; or the hot feedback magma of My Bloody Valentine; even the brutal noise of Swans, all these can remind me of that one day in 1992 that's informed my subsequent life as a music fan.