on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2016 1 Jul

July will be a strange month: some shelter from the stars.

von: Michael Engelbrecht Filed under: Blog | TB | Comments off

Fucking Brexit. Cameron and Corbyn are selfrighteous idiots as far as it concerns their personal EU approaches and ambivalences over the last months (resp. years). They should do social work in local cemeteries. Wouldn’t be surprising if Mr. Cameron would reinstall fox hunting in his country and follow some regressive landlord desires. People are embarrased and angry at what has happened. The vote was, at parts, too, won by the tabloid press lying to people and also by far right racists. This is the most serious situation in UK politics in many, many years. There may not even be a UK in a few years‘ time. The people of Scotland want back into Europe as soon as possible. London and Scotland voted to stay in Europe – and both should. But how? Apart from that, no reason to not being enthralled by the hinterland Britannia, by old ways, ancient landscapes – and people who didn’t lose their fucking minds.

Our record of the month July is digging deep in rural British life. I’m totally sure that Robert Wyatt quite loves the ways Darren Hayman revisits desolate churches, deserted swimming pools, on his buried treasure „Lido“ (no chance for David Hockney’s touch of kitsch with popish blue and nice bodies) – and the witch trials of long-gone centuries. He has some vibes in common with the ways Robert Wyatt and Ray Davies observe traditions vanishing from earth, from unions to railways, from hospitality to old tunes. Sam Lee is another great spirit, singer and detective of lost songs – they could join a club of gentlemen. Hayman now turns his attention to a disparate group of locations tied together by their wartime fortunes a century earlier. „Thankful Villages, Vol. 1“ is sincere and intimate, the tracks range from instrumental field recordings incl. ambient weather and dialogue to full-fledged folk-pop songs. Wonderful.

Full of wonders and magic, too, the concert tour of Van Morrison with t h e orchestra of his lifetime in 1973. The return of the classic double album and the new edition of unreleased concerts of Van Morrison with the Caledonia Soul Orchestra surprise me in many ways. Listening to these performances of exuberant elan vital and uninhibited joie de vivre, I’M THERE! And sitting on my petrol green sofa, slightly deprived of sleep, with a glass of red wine, I’m joining the crowd of another era – pure joy floating through my body – I would call it „solitary, collective joy“!

Brad Nelson has written the following lines in „Pitchfork“, and you can carve them in stone: „History and myth are two forms of context Morrison is determined to combine in his music. His sets juxtaposed original material from throughout his career with established soul and blues songs by Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, Willie Dixon and Sonny Boy Williamson. His own songs are composites themselves: blues, jazz, folk, and rock forms all appear in his music, sometimes at once, collapsing into a slipstream of associations. This feeling of endlessness, of the language of a genre losing its sharpness and blending with others, gives even his straightest R&B numbers the shape of a whirlpool.“

One of Van’s classic albums is called „Common One“ – a richly textured journey through the English landscapes of his mind. Recorded in Switzerland (I think), it transports every listener to the wilderness of Morrison’s pastime power spots. In, too, come the spirits of old English poets. „Summertime in England“ is a cracker. Highly recommended, too, and hard to imagine, the Irishman has not yet read one of the books of Robert Macfarlane.

In England the book is called „The Old Ways – A Journey on Foot“. And though there are some excursions through far away places, his walks are centered on two heartlands, Southern England’s soft chalk downs, and the unyielding Scottish north. (I’ve been there, with a Land Rover and eight loudspeakers, I have to confess:))

Robert Macfarlane is a storyteller of the sublime – far away from looking for linearity, He is  a clear mind open for the apparition of ghosts. A philosopher who thinks better when being in the walking mode? „To describe Macfarlane as a philosopher of walking is to undersell the achievement of “The Old Ways”: his prose feels so firmly grounded, resistant to abstraction. He wears his polymath intelligence lightly as his mind roams across geology, archaeology, fauna, flora, architecture, art, literature and urban design, retrieving small surprises everywhere he walks.“ (The Guardian)

Strolling old ways, lights in the dark, an immersive, life-affirming loneliness, that’s part of the deal reading this book, slowly, slowly. Zigzagging through a life’s story is somehow similar. A bit, for instance. No matter if you’re a returning guest to the Matthew Scudder novels (I’ve read Lawrence Block’s excellent „Eight Million Ways To Die“), or a novice – we have now finally crossed the Atlantic and left English soil – you might find it very interesting to read about this modern anti-hero at different points of his life, at different stages of fighting his demons. It’s like an invented biography in fragments where single moments suggest rather different coping strategies for the „noirish“ elements of life. This might be a good entry for starting with the first novel of the series that has recently been published in Germany, with a new translation, titled „Die Sünden der Väter“. Good day, and good riddance!

(Written between hours, at Bagles and Beans, some words stolen from Ian, finished yesterday) 

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