Sunday, 16 November 2014

Happy Birthday to Me...

Thanks to all of you who have sent birthday wishes.
You've made a bold man very sappy...
My birthday started early; yesterday Di took me to the 'Ja Ja Ja' fest in Shoreditch. It was a wonderful celebration of Nordic music, culture, food etc. Lots of Icelandic beer; particularly one fine Pale Ale, not too pallid at a stonking 7.5%! It helped to wash down renowned Finnish chef Antto Melasniemi's wonderful food. I ate a lot of face (and I'm not talking about snogging Holmsey). How does Crispy Catfish Cheeks in Icelandic Beer Batter with Seaweed Salt sound? It tasted even batter... Followed that with a Lamb's Cheek sandwich with Crispy Red Cabbage and a Dulse Seaweed Creme Brûlée. Just awesome.
We watched a screening of Bjork's 'Biophilia Live' documentary and then sat through a presentation of The Best of Nordic Music Videos from Andre Chocron, Dan Kragh Jacobsen and artist Jenny Wilson. We then watched Jenny's dynamic set and lounged around the bar, meeting some interesting folk; particularly another 'elderly' couple (we were on a uni campus) Andy and Lizzy. I got mistaken for 'someone famous' by one youngster who was disappointed to hear Di's whispering response (Didn't want to hurt my feelings) that I was no one special really...
We also bumped into the lovely, irascible Emiliana Torrini, our main reason for being there. Di and I met up with Emiliana in Aarhus in 2012 at the festival when I played at the opening Gala. She introduced Di to the word 'Sshpaaaarklaay' and me to Japanese Single Malts so... she has a lot to answer for. She played a blindingly beautiful set, drawing mainly from her recent 'Tookah' album which I recommend to anyone with half a heart.

I'd guide their other half, to what Emiliana half heartedly describes as her 'duvet album'. Fisherman's Woman' is a stunning folkish thing of great beauty, Buy it now here:
Home the long way around as the M40 was closed at both ends... I think that we came home via Birmingham; still, we got to listen to Tookah 3 times through... every cloud...
And then... up this morning to my right ear being folded into four (why?) and then that same ear bent again by Di's rendition of 'Happy Birthday'.
Ditto from Dot.
Di and her Mum both have Van Gogh's ear for a tune...
Card opening and coffee.
Two lovely presents from Di: Sylvie Simmons Leonard Cohen bio 'I'm Your Man' which I've coveted a while...

... and a beautiful 'coffee table' book 'Remembered for a While', a celebration of Nick Drake's life and music.
Nick Drake has been the soundtrack to the morning.
His back catalogue is heartbreakingly brief; 2 hours flew by.

Next we were on to Leonard's exquisite, unsurpassable debut, (Oasis? Really?) before being whisked away for a surprise lunch with the caveat "don't expect it to be what you initially think it to be..." and "dress smart, jeans will be fine..."
Umm, ok...
I'll be happy as long as I don't have to eat a beast's face. Been there, done that...

Back, much later; fed and watered.
Pissed and stuffed actually...
A posh curry with the noisy neighbors.
Leonard sings a lullaby:
"Ah the wind, the wind is blowing... freedom soon will come. 
Men will come from the shadow..."
Di's hopeful.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Lovesong: Damien Rice: I Don't Want to Change You

'It was like learning how to walk again, a little bit like going for a walk in the woods without really knowing where you're going"'

I like a sad song.
I was taken by the heartache of Damien Rice's debut 'O'.
It seemed like a genuine outpouring, coming on both sanguine and sad, it was beautifully restrained and contained, with Lisa Hannigan providing a detached and wonderfully calming foil for the injured party's malaise.
The follow up '9' ploughed a similar furrow but, Christ, did it burrow deep.... It was all so bleatingly bleak; 'Do you miss my smell"? etc. Too much blood from the same vein; what was once affecting and winning was effectively becoming a whine.
And now, after an 8 year hiatus comes 'My Favourite Faded Fantasy', his long awaited follow up and... Damien's still not a happy chappy - “You could be my poison, my cross, my razor blade/ I could love you more than life if I wasn’t so afraid.” - but this is a misery that loves company.
Sure, there's angst akimbo but there's now a keening subtlety to the drama; a haunting beauty to the melancholy that is engaging: truly captivating.
Here's Rice talking about his creative process:

Recorded in icy detachment at Sigur Ros's studio in Iceland, Rik Rubin's production is lush and lean; subtly expansive, allowing Rice to exhail. He's given the time and space to be genuinely sorrowful. The orchestrations and extended fades are a sign that airplay is the last thing on his mind.
As you can see from the video below, Damien won't be getting the next Coke or John Lewis ad, but this is sterlingly strong, engrossing, engaging, fractured, fucked up and full of hope.
It's all quite lovely.
Not so much a come back as a recovery...

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Fireworks: Jones

Ok, it's a day too late...
I love Bonfire night.
I love fireworks so much that... I wrote a song about them.
I hope that you enjoy this...
Thanks to Nick Baker for the video.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014