Manafonistas

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You weren’t on my mind. It wasn’t raining. And it was totally great to be back in Liverpool again yesterday, 6 years (give or take a fortnight) since we first met. It was raining when I met you, you were soaking wet – no time to be impressed. And I remember like 3 hours later on, you were someone I would not forget. I remember stupid things: the radio played Spoonie Gee that morning of the day we first met, 12 hours before you fell from the sky. Your constellation, your warzone. Your smile. The black cab we took had bulletproof glass, the city popped and fizzed, its flagstones and skyscrapers bursting with radioacivity, the faint smudge of an echo of the moment of creation. The sky looked like the cymbal sounds at the start of that Coltrane record. Your constellation, my warzone. You fell from the sky.

 
 
 

 
 
 

If you get the Newcastle-bound train from Liverpool you can be at Manchester Piccaddilly in no time. So I did. And You weren’t on my mind. And today in Manchester I see, in neon, in fucking neon, a representation of radio waves from a highly magnetized, rotating neutron star.

 
 
 


 
 
 
No bible-black frieze, no widescreen here. The mirror that fell from the wall was raggedy, that’s all.

 
 
 

 

2016 12 Mai

The speaking Trabant

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And I’m sure I’ve bored you before about the Russell Hoban novel where the characters include a speaking hospital and a speaking London Underground. But I thought I’d share this one with you. Because on the Strada Maria Rosetti, București, Romania, on Monday this week (9th May 2016) a Trabant talked to me in words.

Its words were garbled. It spoke of pocketsful of solutions to the problems of the world, of train journeys into the sun, of life erupting all around us, of words that fall broken, of how this isn’t Budapest or Vienna or Bratislava or Belgrade or Ulm or Linz or Regenburg. Or Novi Sad.

The starless bible-black frieze isn’t just for us, Trabant said. It’s in us. Hin und zurück is an emptied binary, it said. A binary perched on a green/blue glass balcony, pal. This is broken. Because why not. Because everything is repairable. Everything is broken. There’s a dead man in the cable car and the chicken is still dancing, and even dwarves started small. Descended from the dust of stars. In another lifetime when blackness will be a virtue but the road still full of mud.

Trabant spoke. But words. Words are mirrors showing pure blank space, words are as tears wet on your face, said Trabant. I spoke back, but Trabant went silent. Hidden in plain ear sight. I walked round the other side of the car, and all there was, was … was its jokingly passive-aggressive ‚hello‘ sign. Dâmbovița, I said. Dâmbovița. And all the candles and fires. And every prayer and every song, I said (for no reason) then left. Here’s Trabant’s hello sign, fwiw:
 
 
 

 

Mireia Moreorless is/was from the far future. But she has a salient relation in the now: Anna Lemma Clepsydra, who possibly saw you yesterday/tomorrow, wherever the fuck you were/gonna be. Anna Lemma Clepsydra. Anna walks unseen through ordinary moments of your life, anyone’s life. No-one’s half-life.

She’s might be on the Paris Metro innit. But ain’t fixed at Pont de Neuilly. Did you move across the black floor of the Fnac on Champs-Élysées and ask for the new Radiohead CD in broken French this week? Me neither. But if you did, and the assistant looked broken by boredom at the sight of you, Anna probably clocked it, walking past.

Mireia is the girl you see all over Paris, the one who never sees you. Future or past. But did you ever break a cup in Starbucks, or trip on a flagstone, or sneeze in a library? Anna saw it with her side-eyes. Just passing through. Miriea’s dad invented a tourbillon that counters the effects of gravity so well that time escapes space. Mireia’s mum was a nurse. A comfortable way to know from where you came from. And from. Anna was a foundling.

Anna doesn’t know the date of her birth or who her mum and dad are or were or from where. Sorry, but that is pain and excruciating mystery. She now runs a business called Ébauche – a time travel agency. Its revenue stream is largely theoretical, for now. But big stars have booked their trips to near-time, and the agency serves great coffee, and venture capital is making its way in.

All of which has nothing to do with anything, much. Except that on Saturday I managed to book a place on a private tour of a Soviet-constructed (and now long since decommissioned) nuclear facility 180 miles north of Bucharest, Romania.

You are expressly told not to take photographs of the exterior. But, on leaving, well, I did. And the security staff ran me off the premises: out into the scarred grey street.

Luckily a municipal bus was at the stop not far off. I boarded the bus in the hot Romanian sunshine, wheezing and laughing, laughing and wheezing. Sweaty hands. Touchscreen temporarily fucked. And Anna, Anna Lemma Clepsydra, Anna who walks unseen through ordinary moments of your life, anyone’s life (no-one’s half-life) was probably on that bus, or on the pavement, laughing at me, with me, like far-future Mireia, descended from the dust of stars.
 
 
 

 

 

 
 


 
 
 

The title „Physiognomy of the Prestidigator“ has nothing to do with the above. I can’t remember what I made it up for, or when. I remember this, though: the prestidigitator is a nobody – a sub-subcharacter referenced in a piece of dialogue in one of the 5 Truffaut films about the crazy life of Antoine Doinel. A nobody referenced in the conversation of a nobody. Severe delays on the Circle Line. Everything is broken. Everything is repairable.

 

When Nietzsche said ‚hey, God is dead‘
He forgot to mention this:
Satan died in the same accident –
Everything’s all it is. All is garbage, all is bliss.

 

2016 24 Apr

Reggae’s Finest Hours – Bim Sherman: „Across The Red Sea“

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Across The Red Sea is the work – intentionally or otherwise – of a mystic. It’s only Bim Sherman’s 3rd or 4th LP (it depends how you count these things, and tbh I can’t be bothered with chronology anyway – it’s just as arbitrary a way of ordering things as by weight, dimensions or colour. Fuck chronology. Everyone should organise their record collections by spine colour from red to orange to yellow to green to blue to indigo to violet, then the black and white ones should be used to transmit a message, like this:

 

01101001 00100000 01101100 01101111 01110110 01100101 00100000 01110010 01100101 01100111 01100111 01100001 01100101

 

of course some spines may be multicoloured, in which case the exercise is void, taxonomy is void, the idea of genre itself a crock.)

If you live on an island, you’re aware of things that mainlanders maybe aren’t quite so aware of. Seagulls are bastards. The lunar pull is stronger when water surrounds you. And the actuating spirit works its way in from the sea: the font of all life, the place where the first strand of mitochondrial DNA – ever – came into being. Can you hear the mermaids singing?

Across The Red Sea – well, let’s not get into music critic mode here. It’s just a beautiful record, one that has fascinated me for a long, long time. The production is lush – detailed, engineered with space in all the right places like a fine Swiss cheese. The mood of the album seems to go between contemplative and quietly devotional. Some of the songs deal with heavy themes but the trick here is to survey a broken fucked up landscape/cityscape but not do an impotent protest singer routine.

Creatively, Across The Red Sea is a triumph. All killer, no filler. Irie.

2016 23 Apr

space/hospital machinery

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And you’d seen J Spaceman twice in real life, in perhaps not so unlikely locations. At the premiere of the film Control whenever that was – 2007 maybe, at the Edinburgh Film Festival. And at the after-event party for the premiere of the film Trash Humpers a couple of years later. On a boat in Lambeth, which is listing. You get introduced to Harmony Korine, and a slightly reserved agnès b. but no Spaceman introduction, which is probably just as well – because what do you say to the dude who wrote one of the best records you ever heard?

 
 
 

 
 
 

And your perceptions of a record are your own. This one, to me, is bigger than the 90s rock/pop milieu/context it appeared in, or the world. And that was just the outside. From the medical blister-pack that contained it (you actually had to break foil to get to the CD) to the small piece of paper in the box with notes on dosage and contraindications, this was something else.

Sure, there’s a similarity with Damien Hirst’s Pharmacy here – but the difference is in the fact that this was just the container. Hirst’s immaculate presentations – for structural reasons, didn’t hold anything. So you got this and you went inside and, and, and …

Boom. A frail voice intones the words of Elvis: „Wise men say only fools rush in, only fools rush in. But I, I cant help falling, falling in love with you“.

ODB’s son said that prior to his passing, he saw angels.

The frailness and the conviction in the voice here are unusual – definitely not your average rock vox. The otherworldly intermittent beeps in the background suggest space/hospital machinery. Patterns of notes descend, lifted up by their own fading cycles of repetition.

Is the protagonist seeing dancing angel photons in his peripheral vision? In the story that follows, death (or at least a sharp acknowledgement of it) is in every frame. This record is maybe a bit like a Carlito’s Way style film narrative – the end is place it all starts.

Ladies and gentleman we are floating in space will be 20 years old next year. Ignore the write ups, and instead just listen – or maybe open up a lyrics site and practice singing to the vocal numbers.

2016 16 Apr

SYRO relistenifeyed

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The rain had poured since dawn upon the craggy Northumberland countryside, over tin shed roofs, farmsteads, hill clefts and footpaths, trickling in rivulets down windscreens and foreheads, soaking gardens, small pub car parks and fence posts, glistening the yellow-brown leaves of early autumn and the sills of windows everywhere.
 
 
 

 
 
 
Rain. So much rain. An unending wetness threatens to drown dreams of dry weekend weddings, country walks and youthful skylarking in twilit harvest fields, a pouring not so much of water as of gloomy indoors listlessness, driving people to the kitchen kettle, the wireless, the unfinished jigsaw puzzle and other workaday pursuits, while the incessant tapping of rain on pane and sill played out its subtle insistent rhythm of quiet enervation.
 
 
 

 
 
 
Zigzagging away thru the boredom and the pain stunning communist architecture now and then glancing up thru the rain to beyond it: the fuck-all that is nowhere and endless.
 
 
 

 
 
 
SYRO. September 2014 songs. Spring 2016 relistening:
 
 
1 [67] cubist xylophone. chrono holz! lols
2 [120] n,n-dimethyltryptamine/stocktaking. get off the ind. est. shapes/no shadows
3 [101] 9Roy Orbison0
4 [126.26] made my heart burst
5 [130] roland tr-808 i swarm of bees
6 [141.98] sea v. sea (see) view. „I want to play my Space Invaders!“
7. [138.85]
8. [152.97] insect olympics
9. [141.98] nonchalant bermonndsey superiotituty thames floatwr
10. [155] no copyright case. the innocemce of *becoming*. your bravery of space travel
11. [163.97] dogs barking. birds singing. elephant elephant
12. [102] love sky constellation warzone. bright clothes for winter
 
 
 

 
 
 
Bright clothes for winter.
 

2016 3 Apr

Green glass balconies

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I’ve got pockets full of solutions to the problems of the world
I’ve got barbecues like footballs perched on green glass balconies
Where dereliction used to fester
Where the coffee bars spread like weeds
And streetlights flicker eternal*

 
 
 


 
 
 

*The Karl Hyde lyric is weak lights flicker in tunnels but hey, my ears hear what they hear. Edgeland is still on heavy rotation in my personal playlist. I fucking love this record. Fucking genius, fucking all. Fucking everything: fucking motorways, fucking supermarkets, fucking clouds in my coffee.

Notes on the photo: this was taken in Staten Island in late April 2012. I have no memory of why I took it, or what happened that day. If there was a moment under the moment, then this was it. The cosmos was broken. The cosmos was repairable. She kissed me: it felt like a hit.

And dreams should stay in dreamspace, for that’s where they belong. Mainly cos a dream remembered is a dream that has only half done its work. And the cosmos is made up of stuff the scientists can’t find. Most of it is dream matter – a product that fuses language and music, iration and realisation, past and present, up and down, war and non-war, everything and everything else, and more, into one synaesthesic ball of luminous gloop. Everything* participates. Why does your heart as well as your gut feel music when music is only auditory – just chimp 1.2 banging skins and strumming wires? Because there’s no such thing as playing music: the music plays you. All the successful musician does – in the final analysis – is mediate smudged echoes of the moment of creation and maybe the moment under the moment too. They are listening for the ghost of a chance. They may help us make sense of who we are and where we came from; and as a compassionate side effect, teach us that nothing is lost. So I rake the sky, I listen hard. I trawl the megahertz.

And one night in 2013 a dream half did its work, remembered it on awakening in the middle of the night. The visuals have longsince turned to cosmotic/dreamcosmotic dust but the main theme of it was entirely word based. A repeated phrase that meant nothing to me. It went „Zeta Reticuli knows“, I don’t know how many times. I Say ‚remembered it‘ but the riff was still bouncing around my cerebral cortex – I could still feel it. I picked up my phone and sent myself an SMS so I could remember this meaningless phrase in the morning: „zetaretikuly knows“. Went back to sleep. Typed the nonsense phrase into Google the next day. And it turns out, with the help of search engine semantic/syntax correction, that Zeta Reticuli is real. Why it had got buried under a bush in the boondocks of the subconscious is not for me to conjecture. But hey, Zeta Reticuli knows – for it is written in light on a speck of lighter lighter light in the synaesthesic oblate globe of luminous silly putty that 90% of the cosmos comprises of. Somewhere.

And last week I dreamt I saw the cover of Marillion’s record Misplaced Childhood on a post written in pixels within the everchanging wider set of pixels on Manafonistas. And I dreamt I listened to the whole thing over again.  Ich brauche eine bestimmte Energie, um diese Schallplatte zu hören. & this was all I needed. &:
 

And I looked out the window
And I saw a magpie in the rainbow, the rain had gone

 

 
 
 
What the record offers is a nexus: the place where the dreamers of the dream meet the morning at the window, where The Incredible String Band, Boards of Canada and your own warblings make sense. The cup is broken. And everything is broken. And everything is repairable.

 
*Even stone.
 
[Note: 12.35% of this text is copyright Paddy McAloon, 2003. The rest is copyright: the universe]

2016 27 Feb

M

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MANAFONISTAS.
 
 
M:
____ F
_A
__N
_________S
 
 
„33 years since its original arrival, January 22 saw the release of the re-mastered version of one of John Cale’s most unique and lauded solo records, Music For A New Society, alongside a visceral new reworking of the album under the title M:FANS – a record that explores the relationship between old and new, in terms of the sound and vision, and Cale’s memories of the experience, in terms of his life, and the recording.“ (john-cale.com)
 

I listened. I laughed (cried?) What now?


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