What I’m Listening To: June 2020

In this new series I am going to write about tracks I have been listening to recently and share my thoughts on them. I was inspired to do this by Steven Wilson’s excellent posts on music he has been enjoying in a particular year.

The first track Chapel Belle comes for Talitha Rise I discovered her via a blog but I can’t remember the name of the original site. I think I was trying to get tickets to see Pineapple Thief and as my browsing session became more wide ranging I found this video.

What I really like about this track is the difficulty I find in placing it in any particular genre. The closest analogue I can think of is Kate Bush, but in this case the similarities are quite superficial. The song follows it’s own wayward structure that defies simple pop formulas. Lyrically the song is enigmatic and defies simple explanations. As a listener you get the feeling that the song is dealing with confronting some dark and uncomfortable truth this compliments the haunting feel of the music.

Next is The Great Curve by Talking Heads. I was hipped to this by a friend. My favorite part of this track is the truly weird guitar solo, it goes everywhere including far outside the harmony of the song. If there was ever an example that rhythm is more important than note choice it is certainly this. The guitar solo is such a device so laden with cliché it is refreshing to hear something different from the norm. It was recorded by Adrian Belew who through work like this established himself as a master of unorthodox guitar playing.

Also, the song has the feeling that it could sit well with some American film (I refuse to use the obvious cliché). I was aware of Talking Heads prior hearing this track but have never bothered to investigate them in any depth. I must remedy this.

I have really enjoyed revisiting this excellent track by Chris Brown:

I originally heard this on Moses Boyd’s show that he used to have on BBC 1Xtra. The heart of this track is bass line, it’s cool to hear something so distorted in a Pop/RnB context. The video is quite cool too, I like the the retro-future aesthetic mixed up with some ideas from Bruce Lee films.

Next is Up North by Bill Bruford’s group Earthworks. I think this track needs some explanation as I am sure some people will not have any idea what it is I am recommending.

Bill Bruford is best known from playing drums with King Crimson and Yes. After leaving this music behind he changed course artistically by playing jazz and started working under his own name. He was one of the first drummers to explore augmenting the drum kit in unusual ways and pairing acoustic drums with electronic pads/triggers. This is now common place but when he did it it was revolutionary. This track showcases him generating chords off the pads during the head whist keeping a beat going with his feet. In some ways you can see what he was doing a precursor the explosion of creative uses of the drum kit that has occurred in recent years. Drummers that are part of this that you should check out are: Mark Guiliana, Mike Mitchell and Chris Dave.

I really like this tune, it is certainly reminiscent of emotions that I feel when in England that is hard to explain. There’s nostalgia and there’s the feeling of the countryside and pubs.