This time last year a man working on a photography project took a portrait of me and asked me, “What do you want to do before you die?” I was more than a little flummoxed by the question. I’d never really thought about what I grand master plan I wanted to achieve and be able to look back on fondly when I would be on my way out. Travel was mostly attainable, work is work and anything else that happened was a bonus. In the end I replied earnestly, “I’d like to know that I made people happy or good about themselves.” To him this didn’t suffice. In the end I settled with “pass my driving test.”
Being aware of the history you create and the legacy that follows has been infrequently on my mind since that moment. It came out of hibernation two weeks ago when I saw Jackie on a whim after work. One of the recurring themes throughout was Jackie Kennedy’s concern surrounding the legacy of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, and how they would be remembered by the people of America and the world. Despite the worry they became almost mythical in their legacy.
I think about albums that celebrate a momentous birthday this year, also. Rumours by Fleetwood Mac turned forty on the 4th of February. It is one of the most iconic records released that gave the world the most instantly recognisable songs (‘Dreams’, ‘Go Your Own Way’, ‘The Chain’, Songbird’) in the recent history of popular music. The story of the making of the album is one that is told continuously. It was created during an extremely fractious time in the band’s career, relationships were viciously fraught and hedonism was at an all time high. However, the members came together -some not even speaking to each other during the recording- to transform the immense pain into art, using music as a form of therapy and means to communicate to one another. The conditions of how Rumours was conceived made it a visceral and extremely emotional album. It’s an honest outpour and gives the listener a snapshot of that particular moment in Fleetwood Mac. The lyrics focus on the present and the past and subtly allude to the future. You can imagine that is how they approached making the album album, focusing on the present and not worrying too much about the impact or its subsequent legacy.
Now, in my mid-twenties, I’m more aware of my age especially when I read about what some people had achieved early in their careers. At the same time, there were those that came to their craft a little later in life and with passion and perseverance achieved greatness in their art. Vincent Van Gogh only took up painting during the last decade of his life, when he was twenty-seven. Yet, he is regarded as one of the most prolific artists of his generation. Doing what you’re passionate about everyday is the best thing anyone can do. It will drive you equal parts insane but for the breakthrough moments the sanity brought on by satisfaction is so enriching that the impulse to do things grows and grows.
I’ve known people that have impeded their work (before even putting pen to paper) because they are overly cautious about the effects that one minute detail could lead to an erroneous outcome. I think if you remember to live one day at a time, focus on what is in front of you and not then you never know what can happen. You could pass your driving test, that would be nice.
Paul White feat. Danny Brown – ‘Accelerator’
Imagine a world where Keith from seminal noughties mockumentary The Office tries to frantically track down his renegade cerebral epicentre after he comes across it skulling pints of plain and musing on Carol Voderman’s romantic receptiveness. Imagine it no longer. Just check out Accelerator, it’s a mental cross between the opening scene from Trainspotting and Run Fat Boy Run where a brain that looks like Krang from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gets loaded and visits a pair of prostitutes that look like Pattie and Selma from the Simpsons. Lobotomies, debauchery and kids T.V, not the most obvious bedfellows but if it works, it works. The track is rockabilly rap in the style of Ren and Stimpy. Accelerator is a corrosive attack on the senses, the kind of thing you’ll watch again and again first just to get you head round it and then for comedy value, the song is an appropriate soundtrack.
The Besnard Lake – ‘The Divine Wind’
This week The Besnard Lake, released a solemn yet beautiful single, The Divine Wind. Following 2015’s Golden Lion EP, the new single, and its accompanying video, sets a trans-like aesthetic. The track is led by a phasing organ overlapping a swirling synthesizer delivering a sense of escapism. Looking out at the depressing wetness of dreary Dublin day, the Montreal six piece’s new music video easily transports you to a place of delight. A place of abstract, harmonious tranquillity. The visuals would remind the viewer of CCTV footage from turn of the century episode of Road Wars due to its VHS touch. However, there is an aspect of Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anemone in both the audio and visuals of this track. Contrasting polaroid and negative colours lends a melancholic aspect to the tracks personality. The track’s psychedelic euphoria creates a sombre visual mix lending the ensemble a bitter sweet contrast.
M.I.A. – ‘P.O.W.A.’
When the scene opens on Mathangi Arulpragasam lying on a bed of flowers in a truck hurtling down a freeway, you could be forgiven for thinking she is some sort of prisoner. M.I.A. is no prisoner, however – she’s just acting in this video as a solitary participant.
A troupe of dancers that would act as back-up dancers for a different type of artist are instead left to dance by themselves, in a synchronicity that has little motivation when it’s missing a leader. Instead, M.I.A. is pursuing her own narrative, alone amongst a scenic rocky background, striking out on her own without any support.
-Grace de Blaca
Shadow Band – ‘Endless Night’
Philadelphia garage psychedelic folknauts Shadow Band weave a winsome pillow of surrealistic images: the band receiving invites to a masked venetian Jam Macabre, grainy, haunted Blair-Witch trees, deadpan be-sunglassed musicians not quite playing their instruments – like a folk-steampunk Masque of the Red Death Roger Corman-stylee. With the production values of a Magical Mystery Tour montage meets a Barrett-era Pink Floyd promo, the eerie postscript shows all the invitees lying apparently dead on the floor of their tastefully distressed hipster commune band-room – the seeming victims of a deranged and dissonant accordion.
The helter-skelter visuals nicely complement the truly glorious music which falls somewhere between a Brian Jonestown Massacre B-side and an LSD-infused Mamas and the Papas and is all the better for it. All liquid Strangler-esque guitar lines and stacked-out four-part harmony. Lovely, lovely hurling indeed.