Sunday, December 23, 2007

HOHOHO and a merry Christmas to one and all.

I’ve been a bit busy of late, visiting malingering, err... sorry, ill father up North, rediscovering the beauties of the Cumbrian demotic ( that plural version of you, for example “Yous” as in “ are yous going to the bingo?”) and entering a short story competition by writing a completely new short story instead of just dusting off some old stuff. How noble of me! There’s a five grand first prize and having just received the first half of my winter gas bill I can only pray to god I win it. Come on Zadie, sort it out and I promise to spend the money on the seven-hundred remaindered copies of “Utterly Monkey” in Meridian Books.

But that’s more than enough biographic tittle-tattle, Mr Impostume, you boring cunt. Give us some of your searing insights into the Netherworld of unpopular culture. To wit: What are your albums of the year?

Should I just do a list, or.. oh, alright let's have some waffle, if you insist......

Part ONE

Three albums that, for me at least, formed yea! a veritable triptych were Wyatt’s "Comicopera,” Albarn’s “The good, the bad and the Queen” and Caina’s “ Mourner.” They might even have been three generations of the same family. There was something, sprawling, damp and autumnal about all of them, they were all kinds of (Theoretical Antihumanists look away now!) literate, strongly persona-driven concept albums and all three seemed, however obliquely, to address the state-of-the-nation.

“Comicopera” was like wandering round a vast, dilapidated stately home, Wyatt’s oddly beautiful, saintly face hovering around every dank corner and leading you on, the wallpaper coming off the walls in great fronds, the woodwork warping, the family silver long since sold, traces of be-bop and vocal-harmony palely shining among the mildew and the mist creeping in from the fields. The Wire's album of the year, you say? Not quite mine but still, ludicrously, luminously rich and affecting.

Every fucker else's album of the year, you say? Then certainly enough has been said about TGTBATQ’s charcoal and woodcut Clashkinksian afrodubpop. Except! that it is charcoal and woodcut Clashkinksian afrodubpop and that it managed to beguile for the best part of an entire year where other more immediatley arresting treats ( see: Von Sudenfed) quite rapidly evaporated.

No-one's number one, not even mine, Caina will have to be content with number two this time though I'm confident that his next release will nail it.

I can’t emphasise enough how fantastic I thought “Mourner” was, or the injustice of its being almost totally overlooked. A brilliantly organic synthesis of extreme noise, death metal, post rock and dubbed out folk it felt like the natural heir to and a considerable extension on something like Bark Psychosis’s “Hex”, an alternately raging and drifting, meditative missive from the shadowlands of the national psyche. Shot through with a diffuse lyricism and palpable yearning for something more than this, it was an epic act of reclamation. Where so many attempts at these kinds of surprising hybridisations feel contrived (“ it’s kind of Napalm Death mixed with Rai, but done on a laptop”) “Mourner” felt utterly, uniquely right, the expression of a new sensibility in which a series of disparate elements have finally alchemically acceded to a higher form, all Neo-pagan hokeyness avoided.

I wonder if Caina isn’t a kind of Burial for metal heads. Personally I keep thinking (bear with me) of the Smiths, and not simply because of the confluence of Caina's plaintive " break yourself on rocks" with Morrissey's " and the rocks below say hurl your skinny body down son." Perhaps because, like Morrissey, Caina's muses are all ultra-white. But at least he's doing something interesting with them though, eh?

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