Body to Body

From my body to yours, from your body to mine, we are apart and we are together.

We span years, decades, centuries, and millennia.

There is no binary, there is no suffocating art, there is no expression too wild.

There is no love that is not shared, no thought unanswered, no dream left empty.

From my body to yours, from each firing nerve and from each flexing muscle.

My lips are your lips and your lips are mine.

From your body to my body, from each extension and from each moving bone.

Yours eyes are my eyes and my eyes are yours.

We are apart, but we can be one.  We are divided, but we can be united.

From you,

From me.

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Waiting For You

I found myself waiting in a small white room, the generic kind that is omnipresent in publicly funded buildings that leaves the visitor feeling cold.  The kind that leaves the visitor with a distinct feeling that time passes slower inside here than it does outside there.  I was here for myself, that much I knew, but I was also with my wife who had gone off to get some coffee.  Although I had noticed that she had been some time by the time I noticed that she had left.  This frayed my already nervous temper somewhat some-more and I found myself clutching the broadsheet newspaper with a tighter grip than usual, so much so that I could see the spots of whiteness in my pallid flesh, the pressure of over-exertion, of the body not quite being able to push around as much blood as it would like.

Although the room was small I found myself seated on one row of twenty chairs, which was one of three or four.  I was sat directly opposite the double brown doors that I had come through to reach this waiting room.  At the other end of the waiting room there was a corridor which I knew had the offices stationed in discreet intervals.  The only entertainment to be had was to view either a dull aging telly whose monotonous outpourings couldn’t be heard or to read through the much fingered magazines and papers, which happened to be some years out of date.  I couldn’t imbue the feeling that the papers were out of date for a reason, that this calmed the reader down because he knew ahead of the papers what would happen the day after what they had stated.

The room shifted again and appeared smaller and I larger.  There was no telling where this would end.

The information packet that I had received before the appointment entailed little of use, no discrete instruction or direction.  Just a time and a date.  Of course I knew why I had to come to but not the reason I needed to come.  The building was suffocating and it was suffocating my thoughts.  I thought that if I had to stay longer, without my name being called out, without an actual person pointing towards me, without wanting me, that I then would leave this place of my own free accord.  But of course I could not put a time value on the present moment, I just knew I had to feel it to enact it

Again the room shifted, lurched on its axis and scrunched inwards and became smaller still.

I didn’t mind, I had a seat and a paper and my wife would soon be by my side.  I reasoned that my name, whichever it happens to be today, will soon be called and I will be designated another temporary space to call my own.  This was the routine, this was how it was organised, and we all had to play along.

I put down my paper and surveyed the other individuals who had been called here, on the same day as me no less.  I took a quick head count: 24 people.  13 male and 11 female, none under the age of 19 or so and few over the age of 60.  I was approaching that boundary myself.  This did not give me hope.  The double door shunted open with a protest and I was delighted to see my wife again.  Although she appeared irritated and was not carrying the cups of coffee I had so hoped for.

The room shifted once more, this time compacting down to a minute size.  It only just allowed myself and my wife the space we needed to sit down next to each other, to look at each other in the eye, and to hold our hands together.

My name was called.

In One Night

I hold ‘Shaking the Habitual’ in my hands now, and it is beautiful.  I am wonderfully biased to loving the music of The Knife and there are tracks on this album that can seem to go on forever, but there are more than enough diamonds on this album to outshine the dullest of tones.  The album art and format is simple and striking, and The Knife retain their ethical considerations and personal mystique.  I have nothing more to say but to link to this beautiful song below…

‘Full of Fire’

Only a few more weeks until The Knife release their new album, entitled ‘Shaking The Habitual‘, on the 8th of April.  I for one cannot wait for the album.  A recent Guardian article details the background to the new album, and the new direction of the band following the different projects pursued by the brother and sister bandmates of Olof and Karin Derijer Andersson.

As mentioned in a previous bog post it is worth checking out the music the two have made since they released the previous Knife album (2006’s Silent Shout), including the beautifully crafted electronic opera ‘Tomorrow, In A Year‘ with Planningtorock and Mt Sims, and the outstanding Fever Ray album by Karin.  Two singles with videos from ‘Shaking The Habitual’ have so far been released, including ‘Full Of Fire’ linked below and ‘Tooth For An Eye‘.

Vladislav Delay Quartet

Sometimes I pick up an album to buy and listen to solely because I’m intrigued by its cover art.  Today was one such day when, on a visit to a fairly decent music shop, I ambled around to the world selection and took a gamble on an interesting album cover that caught my eye.  In this case the cover that caught my eye was the inaugural offering from the ‘Vladislav Delay Quartet‘, a Finnish band headed by Vladislav Delay, a.k.a. Sasu Ripatti.  Vladislav is no slouch in releasing music, and he has a prodigious output, often working to produce albums by other bands as well as release singles and albums himself.  The self titled album by Vladislav Delay Quartet, released in 2011, has a visceral electronic sound and refuses to let the listener in on an easy ride.  This is music that makes you work to listen to it, and to understand it.

The album is described in the following, on Vladislav Delay’s website

“Vladislav Delay Quartet is an expansive and multifaceted listening experience, consisting of Vladislav Delay (drums and percussions), Mika Vainio (electronics), Lucio Capece (bass clarinet and soprano sax) and Derek Shirley (double bass). Produced by Vladislav Delay, the ensemble’s “raw and natural” interaction finds a deep coherence: the articulation of absolute freedom. This is noise- vital 21st-century electronic noise that cuts a sharp angle between Borbetomagus’ wicked maximalism and the wraith-like aggression coursing through black metal’s more drone-based manifestations.”

It is frankly a refreshing listen, especially compared to the often churned out popular music by television studios that seem to propagate onto the national airwaves by the hundreds.  On first listen the album simultaneously reminded me of the following two albums- Captain Beefheart’s 1969 masterpiece ‘Trout Mask Replica‘ and The Mars Volta’s ‘2008 album The Bedlam in Goliath‘, as well as Vladislavs Scandinavian counterparts ‘Tomorrow, In A Year’ (2010) by The Knife and co and ‘Solid State’ (2008) by Pluxus.  Strands of music familiarity were highlighted, diverged and submerged beneath the rolling electronic landscape.  The above comparisons perhaps highlights my ignorance in my electronic music knowledge of northern Europe, but I am impressed by this album and I look forward to hearing it again.

The song ‘Louhos’ below is, so far, one of the songs I’m keenest on as it builds up into a fanfare of melding bass clarinet, percussion and soprano saxophone.  Take a listen, and perhaps you too will become lost in the Finnish electric landscape.

Fever Ray, The Knife and Planningtorock

I have recently been listening to Fever Ray, an electronic artist who I admire and greatly respect.  Fever Ray is perhaps better known as one half of The Knife, a Swedish electronic band formed in 1999, consisting of the brother and sister Olof Dreijer and Karin Dreijer Andersson.  Fever Ray, Karin’s musical alias, has so far released one full length self titled solo album back in 2009.  The Knife have also recently collaborated with Mt. Sims and Planningtorock to produce ‘Tomorrow, In A Year‘, an electronic opera based on Charles Darwin’s book ‘On the Origin of Species’, for a Danish theatre company, which was released in 2010.  I should probably mention here that ‘Tomorrow, In A Year’ is quite unlike anything The Knife have done before.  As this review clearly mentions there are moments, often long, where the listener can feel underwhelmed, but, with perseverance, it does pay off with beautifully crafted songs that help to explore and share Darwin’s ideas of the natural world.  The one standout track is ‘The Colouring of Pigeons‘, an 11 minute mini magnum opus that helps to showcase the combined talents of all the artists involved, as well as some quite interesting opera singing.  However, as much as I’d tout that particular song, it is well worth listening to the album in full to feel the magnificent effect of ‘Tomorrow, In A Year’.

The Knife first came to my conscious attention at a house party in my 1st year at University, where upon hearing the opening bars of the song ‘Heartbeats‘ I instantly became enthralled.  It may be in part due to the free-flowing beer and my relaxed state of mine, but the song perfectly complimented the house party atmosphere with the dark makeshift dance floor in the living room padded out with the big booming bass speakers.  The song, and that moment, is fixed in my mind as a black and white scene, for the pure raw emotion of the memory.  I have linked the live version of the song because the live DVD of The Knife in concert is invigorating, with its mixture of screens and multimedia projections.  The performance of the band in masks highlight the personal choices of The Knife, with regards to publicity and marketing.  it was shortly after hearing ‘Heartbeats’ that I ordered my first Knife CD (‘Deep Cuts’, which includes ‘Heartbeats’), and trawled through their back catalogue.  Earlier albums include the 1st self titled album (2001), the soundtrack for the ‘Hannah Med H‘ film (2003), and ‘Deep Cuts (2003)’.  The release of ‘Silent Shout‘ in 2006, their most recent album, was noted for its darker sounding songs and lyrical content, whilst the ‘Silent Shout- An Audio Visual Experience‘ DVD was also released in the same year.  A new CD is slated for release this year, but no details can be ascertained as of yet.

Planningtorock and Mt. Sims are both currently based in Berlin, Germany, which is a city that lies close to my heart and lingers often in my thoughts.  Having heard of both of these acts through the ‘Tomorrow, In A Year’ album I investigated them further, and became entranced by ‘W‘, an album released in 2011 by Planningtorock.  It is a carefully crafted album that explores electronic pop through its dark and sometimes grueling landscape.  Planningtorock has stated that by allowing distortion on her voice it lets her play around with both sound of the gender and of the emotional feeling of the songs on album, and it is a strong record, perfectly capturing her playful side but also including dark melancholic themes.  Perhaps two of my favourite songs from ‘W’ include ‘The Breaks‘ and ‘Going Wrong‘.  Where ‘The Breaks’ explores the fragility of the human with frank and often startlingly lyrics with a throbbing beat, whilst ‘Going Wrong’ lures the listener with lush strings and turns slowly sinister.  They are both gems to beholden, and the videos to both songs are simple in design but remain disconcerting and ever so slightly surreal.  Over at the Guardian website there is an interview with the Bolton born musician describing her feelings on her second album ‘W’, whilst the Pitchfork.com reviews the album and highlights some of the themes prevalent in both The Knife and Planningtorock.

Now this is where I have to admit to not having heard much of Mt. Sims, but what I have heard I have thoroughly enjoyed.  This shall shortly change.  In the meantime enjoy one of my favourite songs of the Fever Ray album, ‘Leave the Streets Empty For Me’.  As with the majority of the videos for Fever Ray, this video is a marvelous example of the pairing of artistic vision and medium, with both the song and the video helping to accentuate each other.  Enjoy…