Look at this, isn’t it beautiful?

SO IF YOU’RE IN MANCHESTER, COME!

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You In A Fine Light demo

October 3, 2007

Seeing as the blog is named after it.

Fuck it, I’m gonna post up my demos here.

This song is now in The Nightjars live set, as you can imagine, it sounds pretty different to this…

This is the second of the All Tomorrow’s Parties “Don’t Look Back” gig series I’d been tempted into. The first was superb – Tortoise performing Millions Now Living Will Never Die, with a few from TNT and It’s All Around You for afters – and of course, this one is superb too.

What else did you expect me to say?

Thurston, Kim, Steve and Lee come on, a silver candle as their backdrop, then burr through “Teenage Riot” as I muscle my way to front, breaking a personal record for the most repetitions of the word “sorry” in one minute. I’m not sorry. Well, I am, but it can’t be helped. I find my friends by fluke; we touch glasses together and settle in to venerate our idols.

Can anybody spot the irony therein?

My first thought is ‘where is the bass?’ – but the bass on the album itself is largely subliminal, a delicate, just tangible pulse, dominated by the glacial, plaintive, twin guitar attack. So I guess the treb-ly sound is justifiable.

On to “Silver Rocket”. I crane my neck this way and that to spot what the two guitarists are doing, trying to see who is responsible for which coruscating riff, which precise piece of magic comes from where. Praying that this is not the last word in guitar style. Sure, there’s the odd lyrical clunker from Thurston Moore, who tried a bit too hard to be cool at points (example: – ‘There’s bum trash in my hall and my place is ripped / I totaled another amp, I’m calling in sick’, delivered in a tone that sounds way too healthy to convince during “Hyperstation’), but musically, all the stars aligned, everything coalesced.

I wonder how Sonic Youth feel, replicating this glorious material, trying to deliver it as if it is new, but in reality, simply covering themselves. As artists, I can hardly imagine they are thrilled to do it, but they have kids to put through college, mortgages to pay, lifestyles to fund and a sold-out Roundhouse is more than happy to chip in £25 a man, on what is only the first of a three-night stand here.

Steve Shelley looks as happy as a pig in shit, gleefully and faithfully pounding out the simplistic, pummelling, military rattling rhythms. Kim Gordon, dwarfed by a huge Firebird bass, focuses and leads the band through a deadly “The Sprawl” and “Cross the Breeze”. Lee Ranaldo then heroically delivers the sterling brace, “Eric’s Trip” and “Hey Joni”. He stands by two excellent sets of lyrics with pride and emerges from this show with maximum credit.

By the time they reach track nine, “Candle”, any pretence at watching and taking mental notes has deserted me. Several beers from the earlier session in the Lock Tavern with Phil, Will and Fran have their inevitable effect and I am nothing but another sweaty male figure within a superannuated moshpit.

It’s those songs that sound so awesome on your stereo at home, writ large – you can see Thurston and Lee at work, generating some of the most intelligently harmonised guitar parts in history. It’s too much. When Thurston delivers ‘Candle’, all my churlishness at his occasional lapses in taste (and who the fuck am I to judge the man?) are utterly, utterly dismissed. His pop instinct is perfectly married to the arthouse style and something melodically infectious and uniquely potent is magicked into being.

“Kissability” is a riot, slightly spoiled by the fact that I am bouncing around like an oversized child, bellowing “kissability”, out of tune with Kim. It’s better if I don’t do that. I can hear it and become conscious of myself and the others around me, the big, dark-clad, male shapes. They are bellowing too. It sounds vulgar.

It sounds better if you close your eyes and listen, just like you do in your room.

The drink, the surreality of the situation, the perfect, faithful rendering. I knew all this already, I think, as I go crazy to the music, always a step ahead, always aware of what is about to happen, even when they noise out. It’s not about what’s happening on stage, it’s about what already lives in my head. I know this.

Our kicks, if these are they, were fashioned 19 years ago. I was a child then and didn’t come to this music until over a decade after the fact, but it instilled fire and belief in me, belief in guitar music as a valid art form, not just a product to be packaged and sold. We, the bedroom thinkers who worship Sonic Youth’s achievement and queue up to give them more money, we know this and we are united.

Ticket and booking fee @ £27.50 + train there and back @ £44.50 + drinks and expenses @ best part of £40. About £110 to hear what I already own on beautiful gatefold double 12” vinyl, followed by an encore consisting of much of Rather Ripped, the latest album. Ex-Pavement bassist Mark Ibold joins the band for this section of the set and they purr through the excellent “Incinerate” and “Reena”, which pretty much are that album but, you can’t help but realise, are truly inferior to the material that preceded them on the night.

I’m exhausted and stupefied with drink by this point and back at the bar for another pint of Kronenbourg, which is the only beer on sale. Then off into the night. We stand outside, smoking cigarettes, but I fail to choke mine down. Camden buzzes, of course. Then we get the tube. I don’t talk on the tube. I look around at scores of people buffeted by the noise and shown up in the surgical, harsh light and for the first time, think I’d never like to live in London. I’m scared of feeling so small, scared of spending hours a day on these tubes, even though part of me finds it’s all so romantic.

I look at the texts I sent around to my friends in the aftermath – ‘Fucking Genius’, ‘…best gig ever’, ‘I reek of mosh’. Back at a friends’ house the next morning, I awake feeling nauseous. I go to the toilet and vomit a little, discretely, into the bowl, leaving no trace.

http://www.myspace.com/sonicyouth

-Ollie Wright

A veteran songsmith, Wyatt’s music is meditative and subtly constructed. Not a thrill a minute (is life?), Comicopera is a subtle record, demanding the listener’s full attention to extract maximum reward. It’s most poignant moments of sound are generated not by raw power, but by intelligent song structure.

Young bands tend to go for the listener’s throat, with a rush and a push of sheer adrenaline and force of will; it’s their energy which attracts. Sometimes, it’s because they don’t quite know how to write a song, but if they’re good enough, the sheer drive and irrepressibility lets them get away with it.

This is very different. Listen to the chastening ‘A.W.O.L’, for example, a harsh reflection on the realities of growing old in this world. ‘The tick and the tock of the damnable clock’ (and notice the way he pronounces the ‘n’ of damnable) is the rhythm that beats out as the protagonist, Hattie, waves to ‘trains that no longer run’, ‘haunted by waltzes with Harry / who’s hat’s hanging there in the hall’. This is an unflinching evocation of loneliness and mortality, which leaves the listener with much to ponder.

Wyatt sounds like a David Bowie who didn’t have a problem with getting old. ‘You You’, in fact, reminds me of the more ambient sounds on Bowie’s “Heroes”, with its solemn brass backdrop. Brian Eno was involved with Comicopera, playing instruments on various songs and sharing composition credits on ‘A Beautiful Peace’ (which also features a cameo from old Roxy Music stager Phil Manzanera on guitar), during which Wyatt assumes a narrative tone, describing an English high street, strewn with flattened dead rabbits and polystyrene containers half full of chips. ‘What’s that in the gutter? He obviously didn’t want to finish his chips… that’s unusual’. There’s something deeply touching about this flat description of any small, poxy English town’s depressing environs. The seniority and the lack of condemnation in the tone make the song.

Each of the three parts contains a variation on the same melody – ‘You You’ in Part 1 (Lost in Noise), ‘Out of the Blue’, which closes part 2 (The Here and The Now) with the chant ‘you have planted all your neverending hatred in my heart’, whilst Wyatt pimps on an ‘Enotron’ (essentially a mellotron loaded with samples of Eno’s voice). The melody reoccurs in Part 3 (Away With The Fairies), in which Wyatt sings in Italian and Spanish, a form of linguistic protest against the ongoing (neverending?) War on Terror. “Just being silent as an English-speaking person, because of this fucking war”, he explains. Well said.

A slow, sprawling, haunting album from a man whose art is his life and whose life is his art. Comicopera is lengthy and brooding, but its depths and rewarding of repeated visits. Try to love him the way he is, because you’ll never change a thing about him.

http://www.myspace.com/robertwyatt

-Ollie Wright

What to say about this enigmatic, soulful young singer? Yet another musical Manchester immigrant, his style is not the easiest to get to know. His lyrics are strikingly strange and his songs awkward, Byzantine structures, prone to willful U-turns; but crucially, there are always moments of ‘well, that was well worth it’ jaw-drop wonder. His pure-tone, ‘it doesn’t matter how many fags I smoke’ voice swoops and trembles.

Syd Barrett is the obvious comparison, as the two share the ability to magic up a psychedelic moment in music and have a similar penchant for ‘it does make sense, just tilt your head slightly’ lyricism. Burrell is most probably directly descended from the royal court minstrels of medieval England. There is nothing remotely topical in his writing, which is one way of creating something that feels timeless.

A resolutely unconventional solo singer/guitarist, his live gigs have often been difficult for him. I felt dreadful for him at one In The City showcase, as twenty of us stood at the front trying to listen to him delicately pick and nervously deliver some of his best material, whilst the clueless ya-ya’s at the bar laughed horsily and droned nasally, with the collective volume of an enormous turbo sinus. Truly, a pearl before swine. He is currently putting together a new group, the Audinary Hearts Band, with fellow songwriter guitarist Phil McDonald (aka Baxter Trappe) and the Former Bullies drummer Tom sitting in until a permanent member can be found.

I caught an recent show at The Royal Oak in Chorlton and was heartened to hear some potentially brilliant material, reminiscent of the early Pavement sound – off key/on key, haphazard, but intriguing. The first Audinary Hearts demo contains at least one Burrell classic, the beautiful, non-stop vocal coda waltz ‘Six Streets Down Love’.

Lazy journalists will probably describe you as sounding like you are ‘on acid’, ‘tripping on mushrooms’, or ’stoned’. Would you like to take this opportunity to tell the readership that you Don’t Do Drugs?

I don’t know about that ?

I understand you’re originally from Cambridge – how did you come to be in Manchester? And did you ever see Syd knocking about?

I was born by the sea, all the way at the bottom of the island, then I lived with the concrete cows and sometime before I reached double figures, we moved again near enough to Cambridge. So I’m not from any one place. That’s sorta what I’m searching for. My friends would say they’d seen Syd about listening to music, you know bobbing his head, except he was never wearing headphones.

When did you write you first song? Were your folks musical?

I was thinking about this the other day, it was in New Cross in London with my friend in his basement flat. It was hot summer and that night we ate chicken soup cooked by his girlfriend’s dad who’s from Chile. I remember the soup being good but I cant remember the song, only that it hooked me onto something that nothing had before. My folks never really listened to music!

What can we expect from the forthcoming album? You must be really excited to have a full-length LP out.

It’ll be something good, something you’ve never heard before and you will have heard it a thousand times too. It’s taken three years to put it all together. It’s odd, I don’t remember recording it much, that might be for other reasons though. It’s my best album yet, heh heh.

It’s very difficult to compare you to anybody else, even though yr vocal style seems instantly familiar. Can you give the readers an idea of where you’re coming from musically? One or two core influences, perhaps?

I’m sorta coming from everywhere looking for somewhere and not knowing the way. Influences … like any kind of roots in there I like, you know, regardless of the sound, im into that in the music. Today, I was listening to M.I.A and Orange Juice

Do you ever feel like writing a straight narrative lyric? I’ll give you a quick example – 1,2,3,4, ‘felt so good today / baby’s here to stay / she’s the queen of my heart / yeah, yeah, yeah’, or maybe ‘Today, I feel quite sad / everything seems bad / don’t know what to say / cos I feel so bad today’ … As opposed to your more cryptic words – ‘drift by on a passing eyelash’ (from the wonderful ‘Stick Out Your Tongue’), for example.

Mmm, I don’t really think about what kind of thing it is, it just comes the way it comes. It mostly means anything at all. If I could simplify everything I wanted to say into four lines, I would arrive. That’s what I’m after.

What I’m driving at is that there is a certain mystery to your lyrics and indeed your persona. In these post-Arctic Monkeys days, we seem to be deluged with aggressively normal young singers who outline their problem – a serious English small-town malaise – without having any solutions or clues for a better future. Your stuff, meanwhile, totally bypasses the modern age, would you say?

I don’t know, it sounds like you described me there. Will normality look different depending on where it is? Maybe my music’s just out of touch! I guess I don’t really pay any attention to time, because I think where is the start and where is the end. I get fast and slow.

Are you enjoying playing live more now that you have some company on stage (Phil McDonald)? Phil is no mean songwriter in his own right – have you enjoyed working on his songs?

He’s got some great songs, lyrically he gets a lot closer than many to simplifying and connecting with you. Playing live, I love or hate, it’s a lot better when we’re playing together now though, to get that fuller sound. At the moment we’re still trying to control it, because it gets wild and then we’re fighting with it to calm it, it’s volatile and can change in a flash.

Ooompa Zoompa/Evelyn 7inch out 27th AUGUST

http://www.myspace.com/neilburrell

-Ollie Wright