on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2011 14 Sep

Talk Talk: Laughing Stock (a masterpiece that is now 20 years old)

von: Michael Engelbrecht Filed under: Blog,Gute Musik,Musik vor 2011 | TB | Comments off

“Laughing Stock is an incredibly intuitive and bare recording – some songs feel like vapour trails. To me, every sound on the album is about death, like the songs are about to die, like a band of Beckett characters. But at the same time the album is so emotional. ‘After The Flood’ is like crying. After July 22 (the day of the 2011 attacks on Oslo), Laughing Stock was one of two records I wanted to listen to.”
Jenny Hval

I interviewed Mark Hollis after the release of „Laughing Stock“. I came from Germany (raining all the way, Laughing Stock in the cassette recorder). I travelled by car, and when I came to the streets of Hammersmith, the big company of Talk Talk had put the cover on top of their building. The monumental cover turned around itself, so everybody could watch. But, well not many would buy it at the time … Meeting Mark Hollis was special (a small appartment near an underground station called Angel). To me he still seemed exhausted from the long production and the night work, and the fight for the most detailed sounds. We talked about inspirational sources for the album, and his eyes started to glow in a way when he actually dived into the worlds of the piece „In A Sentimental Mood“ (the version played by Ellington and Coltrane), Ornette Coleman´s „Free Jazz“, and the collaboration of Miles Davis and Gil Evans on „Porgy and Bess“. Still today, it is one of my favourite albums of all time! I never stopped playing it on air from time to time. Rather limited reviewers called it „suicidal music“. My goodness: it is dark, yes, bleak, yes, but  in a very enlightening way! You haven´t ever heared this album? Dear reader – really?! Some errors can easily be corrected! Here´s  something interesting to read about it (source: „“).

P.S.: Years later I met Mark Hollis in Hamburg. By the time his brilliant solo album „Mark Hollis“ was released. He remembered our first meeting in London, was quite relaxed and told me about his family life. I was surprised he was a football fan, too. His team is Tottenham Hotspurs. So we did some small talk about football. He knew Borussia Dortmund quite well. That was fun: talking with this serious guy who definitely sees music as a deadly serious thing about everyday life. Then we turned to the album. And death was all around again.


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