on life, music etc beyond mainstream

Zum Beispiel die Neue von James Yorkston. Die wurde hier nicht zum ersten Mal erwähnt, und doch hat sie noch kein Manafonista gehört, vielleicht Ian in Glasgow, aufgrund seiner möglichen Kontakte zu schottischen Zirkeln oder den Nachfahren von Nick Drake, Bert Jansch und John Martyn. Manche Folkies, und James gehört gewiss dazu, bewegen sich in dieser alten Tradition, ohne bloss das Erinnerungsselige in uns zum Klingen zu bringen wie etwa, sagen wir mal, das lang zurückliegende, erste Hören einer Platte von Fairport Convention.

Nein, neue Werke solcher Cracks wie James Y., King Creosote, Alasdair Roberts, The Unthanks (manche Cracks sind weiblich), Sam Lee usw bringen die Schwingung des Uralten in eine seltsam drängende Gegenwärtigkeit. So singt James Yorkston auf seiner neuen Platte (ich lese das in ersten Rezensionen auf, solche „reviews“ wecken die Neugier, wenn sie gut sind, die eigenen Vertrautheit mit einem Künstler mischt sich mit der Fremdwahrnehmung des einem selbst noch Unbekannten!) von den Problemen einer Langzeitbeziehung (was schon sehr lebendig rüberkommen muss, um nicht im Einerlei des Problemalltags zu versinken), oder von der Zeit einer ernsten Erkrankung seiner Tochter: nachts traf er sie in der Küche vor dem Kühlschrank, und sie erzählte Daddy, dass sie geträumt habe, sie sei eine Katze aus einem Buch (sic, der Titel!).

Ganz gewiss mischt sich bei Yorkston dann auch das Private mit dem Mythologischen, die Fragmente der eigenen Historie münden in eine grössere Erzählung, in der Menschen wie du und ich vorkommen, und einige dieser Menschen (der Lauf der Zeit, ein zentraler topos der Folkmusik: einst noch bedrohliches Hier und Jetzt, ein paar (gefühlte oder wahrhaftige) Jahrhunderte später nur durch ein Lied am Leben gehalten) verschwinden auf einmal einfach so und für immer: sie mischen sich in die Figuren eines Kinderbuches, und werden von einem Zauber ins Nirgendwoland verbannt, sie werden von einem Lied der Beatles aufgesogen und verschwinden mit Lucy in einer Himmel aus Diamanten, sie sterben bei einem Autounfall in Madrid, weil sie zum falschen Augenblick Lust auf einen Soft Drink hatten.

James‘ Tochter ist meines Wissens wieder gesund geworden, und die Gesänge im Haus mögen ihre heilsame Wirkung getan haben. Aber nun wird es wirklich Zeit, dass die CD am 10. August erscheint (Domino Records). Es kann nicht sein, dass Sie, sofern Sie diesen Text mit Lust gelesen (und einen grundsätzlich positiven Draht zur schottischen, irischen, englischen Folk Music haben) nun nicht, fast fiebrig, einen zügigen Blindkauf ins Auge fassen!

This entry was posted on Samstag, 4. August 2012 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Comment

  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    In 2006 I was an ignorant young man (some might say I still am). Having started a blog championing new music, I was swept along by a wave of “indie” guitar music at the exclusion of all else. One Friday evening however, I found myself watching the first in a series of programmes on BBC Four called Folk Britannia, tracing the history of folk music in Britain. It was something of a revelation and opened my mind to the charms of more rustic music, and songwriting that spoke to me as a young man coming from a rural upbringing. Prior to this, I’d always categorised folk as something for older generations, with songs that dealt with times and issues that were no longer relevant. I’d dabbled with country and Americana through Wilco and Whiskeytown, their transatlantic take and different history made them sound more exotic, from another world altogether. But really my heart belonged to skinny boys with guitars and angular hairstyles. A psychiatrist would probably have a field day with that. No matter, it took these series of programmes to break the pointless and rigorous confines I’d placed on my musical interests.
    Of course, the first problem with this new found interest in folk music was to find an entry point. The sheer depth of its history makes it a daunting prospect. But then, after the third and final programme which featured the new generation of folk artists, I found my hook: James Yorkston. His 21st century update on folk music instantly grabbed me. The raw and honest lyrics matched with a simple and stark musical accompaniment felt like they popped opened my chest and peered into my very soul. A quick search and his back catalogue sprawled out in front of me, my cash burnt in an extravagant bid to play catch-up. That Domino are now reissuing Yorkston’s debut LP, Moving Up Country, ten years after its first release is something of a shock as, to me, this is still a new experience. I was late to the party then, but Moving Up Country is that breakthrough album, that release that will be seen in the future as a turning point – a release championed as one of the key records that rejuvenated folk music in the UK.
    You could view the title Moving up Country as an allegory for promoting country and folk music – bringing it out of the shadows and the grips of its dated image. Let’s not forget that around the time of this album being released most popular and “indie” music was still in thrall to the populist urges of 60s and 70s rock and pop. Folk, outside of transcendent exceptions like Nick Drake and John Martyn, was still deemed to be a rather closed environment that had little to say about contemporary life. Yorkston’s tales of boozy nights, loves, friendships and losses might have been typical of folk songs, but they spoke in a fresh way that opened this style of music up again to the populous at large. It’s perhaps revealing that some of the tracks on Moving Up Country could easily be mistaken for Arab Strap. In fact, ‘Tender To The Blues’, with Yorkston’s laconic delivery and stripped back refrain could easily have been an early Strap B-side. Yorkston’s morose and mournful heart is the centrepiece for each song and this openness is where the charm and warmth comes from. ‘Sweet Jesus’ features quite possibly one of my favourite verses: “Because I found love and a thousand answers to the trapped little ghosts of a thousand glasses, I’ve been drinking less and sleep comes to me, if this is life, touch wood it’s easy”. That wonderful realisation that you’ve fallen in love and that nothing else matters and life becomes, at least for a time, a simple experience. Of course, this being Yorkston, it isn’t easy, and the revelation comes at the end of the song when he sings “Sweet Jesus when will she be mine?”.
    The song ‘St. Patrick’ follows the complications of the heart as well “I didn’t sleep at all last night, I thought my heart had mastered the run of these seas” and “I swear that I would have called you if I’d been sure you were alone.” When I heard these songs for the first time I found myself coming out of a similar situation and the singing violins and gentle guitar combined to sooth my aching head and heart. Once again, Yorkston’s voice is a resigned sigh, with a “should have known better” delivery that cries not just for acceptance but reassurance as well.
    Moving Up Country is a cathartic record – Yorkston revealed in subsequent interviews that these songs helped him deal with the end of certain relationships and allowed him to make sense of events from his past. The record closes with ‘The Lang Toun’, a sprawling and noisy ten minutes of clashing horns and off-kilter harmonics. The song deals with domestic violence, the lyrics spat tersely, the music perfectly matching this dark and desperate act. This combination sees Yorkston expanding his delivery style: the clashing horns at the beginning were influenced by the noises of a traffic jam outside his house one morning. Here you can hear his interpretation of folk at its best – bringing the sounds of contemporary living into the oldest form of music and, flipping this, using these traditional instruments to replicate ultra-modern noises. Yorkston was able to successfully update the idea of folk music for another generation – one that ultimately had the same trials and tribulations as all those that went before, but in a way that they could relate to, while offering a gateway drug, if you will, to an amazing heritage.
    Moving Up Country can be seen as one of the key releases in helping resurrect folk music in Britain. While this might not have been a true reinvention of the form, it’s certainly a reinterpretation. Yorkston had found a way to use folk music as a way to deal with what life had thrown him. It just happened that it was a genre that was seen as relatively unfashionable at the time. The fact that Yorkston’s songwriting and spurred on this regeneration is a reflection on his original and exceptional skill that goes beyond genre.

    Rich Hughes, The Liminal

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