The Midnight Days To Come
Itís been a strange week or two. Iíve been all out of sorts, caught up in the manic whirl of school with my head in a million and one places at once. In these times listening to music becomes hard. I get to wishing I could be more like I once was when I was younger, when a single album would glue itself to the record player for weeks on end and I would get to know it intimately. Reading Michaelís piece on the reissued Rattlesnakes made me think of this feeling too. I put it on the other night and was surprised by how well I remembered it, even though itís probably a good decade since I played it properly. It sounded good. Lawrence Doneganís liner notes for the reissue are good too, and reading them reminded me of the context of the times. Itís hard to get across now just how bad those early Ď80s years were, hard to explain just how difficult it often was to uncover anything that seemed remotely interesting. Of course that difficulty lent the things one did uncover a heady sheen of romantic wonder, and Iím not sure Iím happy to trade that very special feeling for the ease of access that cultural archaeology now carries.

Still, a few records have managed to glue themselves to my ears of late. One of them is Joanna Newsomís Milk Eyed Mermaid album. I bought this several months ago after reading the glowing praise of Everett True and assorted Careless Talk / Plan B people and immediately disliked it. I remember thinking it was whimsical nonsense and promptly piled it with the Amazon / charity shop off loads. Seeing Newsom on the cover of the new Plan B however made me give it a second chance, and Iím glad I did because itís grown into one of the records I cannot leave alone, has become one of the few records of late that I can leave on repeat without fear of creeping boredom setting in. Where once I heard flimsy whimsy I now hear a gorgeously unhinged gentle wildness. That it reminds me of Young Marble Giants kissing the dew in a morning forest only adds to the appeal. Milk Eyed Mermaid truly is a delicious spell, and Iím well and truly bound.

The other record battling for supremacy on the stereo has been the Citizen EP by Home Video on Warp. With five sublime cuts of broody melodic electronica, this is one of those records that lurks in the shadows of the attic and curls cool tendrils of seductive perfume around my neck as I pass by. With echoes of New Order and The Wake at their glacial best flirting with Boards of Canada, this is glorious electronic Pop Noir thatís sure to thrill. Thereís a previous 10Ē that Iím eager to track down, and I await the release of their full-length debut with as much anticipation as I have anything in the past few years. Home Video are for sure ones to watch.
Also on Warp is the excellent compilation soundtrack to the first full-length feature from Warp Films, Dead Manís Shoes. The film is the brainchild of writer/director Shane Meadows (24/7, A Room for Romeo Brass) and actor/screenwriter Paddy Considine (Last Resort, 24 Hour Party People, Room For Romeo Brass, In America) and sounds like it will be an intriguing supernatural social realist horror comedy. The soundtrack album is certainly just as eclectic as that sounds, and mixes genre to great effect. Thereís the odd psych folk of The Earlies, the spooked bleached country of Calexico and the deep dark techno of Laurent Garnier. Thereís the sweet piano instrumental of Aphex Twin, the glacial rural collage of Cul De Sac and the dark scalpel blade through the heart of night that is Gravenhurst. It all makes for a set that stalks the moors cloaked in the secrecy of sleek death, and if the film is even half as good, then itís sure to be nothing short of awesome.

Cast in a similar light is the Bluffers Guide To The Flight Deck set by Flotation Toy Warning. (Pointy) Here an archaeology of invented histories and half imagined narratives are pasted together into peculiar collage visions with a glue of electronics, charity store instruments and a wealth of warped imagination: Flotation Toy Warning make ten soundtracks for movies you never saw anywhere outside of your mindsí eye, or at the very least from the corner of the reality afforded by afternoon autumnal daydreams of hidden pasts and forbidden futures battling for attention over the sounds of woodworking and junior operatics. Bluffers Guide is one of the most naturally strange accompaniments to the onset of morning mists and eye searing sunsets imaginable.

Meanwhile, throwing a net around the already hastily departing memory of summer and clutching it close is the Everything Is Green set by The Essex Green on Track and Field. A collection of earlier releases by the Ladybug Transistor off-shoot, this is supple and seductive, naÔve and knowing like teenage fingers lingering on the nape of your neck. The Essex Green are the sound of summersweet suburban psych pop; are the sound of open top bus rides to the beach with thoughts of bejewelled angels playing fuzzbox guitars and Vox organs deep inside the darkest recesses of your mind; are the sound of a romp in the park with Sandy Salisbury, Dennis Wilson, Marc Eric and Triste Janero with Bergen White conducting the Incredible String Band in the Rococo styled bandstand that sits beneath the weeping willows. Everything Is Green is a joyous revisiting of moments already fading and forever remembered in determined moonlit winter dreams, is a balm for the midnight days to come.

© 2004 Alistair Fitchett