Radiohead – A moon shaped pool

“Try this.  You like weird stuff.”  Some years ago someone gave me a collection of “weird stuff”.  Moody and noisy.  I call them soundscapes.  And the new Radiohead album comes pretty close.  This is an album you want to play loud with headphones as you walk through your dreams or nightmares to try to figure out something.

The audio cues are like trance dancing material.  They must have had fun in sound design.  ‘Burn the witch’, ‘Daydreaming’ and ‘Decks Dark’ set the stage like that before ‘Desert Island Disk’ comes along with it’s acoustic guitar as anything vaguely ‘normal’.  Oh, wait a minute, there goes that one too down the dreamy, stoned world of sweeping background sounds.  It is as if whenever anything sounded familiar they worked on it until it didn’t.  “Identikit” starts like a studio out take and turns into an anthem of something, anything you want it to.

This is more like a trip through space or an ocean voyage.  The fog lifts occasionally briefly and then reappears.  Vocals ranging from a greek “moiroloi” style chants, to whinging, whining, painful, thoughtful, pensive rants.  If you are looking for a hit single, don’t bother.  This isn’t an album, it’s a disease.  You hear it once and then you want to hear it again.

Whatever planet these guys have lived on for the past years making this album, heck, I want to live there with them.

When a star dies

Think you may have all overdone it with the tributes to David Bowie guys.  I mean I loved the guy and his music  but I found myself noticing all his kitsch horrors rather than focusing on the good stuff.  And at the end of the day, he was quite secretive and very much…well…full of shit.  We tried to focus on his sparse moments of self depreciation and irony to survive.

Well take Iggy Pop instead then!  A man who has urinated on many of us, sung horribly and literally been naked in front of us.  His lack of voice, talent or musical knowledge never stopped him.  He boldly went were nobody wanted to go, the underbelly of modern nothingness.  He never pretended to be stylish or knowledgeable.

And as he reaches his end, he gives us a gem like this:

While others wax lyrical about the “chameleon” that was Bowie, maybe you want to take a quick look back at Iggy’s voyage.  The man just didn’t give a shit in the most creative ways possible.  Every time you wonder why he even bothered.

But like, in a good way.  I think.  Sure, the rhymes are like, well, I have always suspected his grasp of English stayed at the level of 15 year old wannabe.   So how does he do it?

Well he sucks what little talent or musical sense there is on his records from producers, collaborators and musicians.  Stone Roses, Stone cold from drugs or stones hitting on his head.  It all ends up as music of sorts.  And it’s a cry for love, a passenger, a cry for love and lust for life.

Iggy I love you.  I just wanna be your dog.

Nick Cave dies of an overdose

The first time I saw Nick Cave live it was in a grungy basement club.  He was either too stoned or not stoned enough.  In any case the man showed very limited connection to anything happening around him.  Like for example the songs being played.  Truth be told it is amazing he recovered from that state back in 1980something when I saw him, even more so that he became a success.   And I am really really happy I have never listened to him since.

I forced myself to listen to the entire album.  “Skeleton Tree” does not put me in a good mood.  Nick Cave reminds of a friend at high school who always wore way too smart clothes and insisted on painting only with black ink.  He refused to do anything normal.  If he painted something that looked recognizable he would mess it up.  If he said something approaching what you expected, he added something irrelevant.  This album is exactly that.  Cave drones like the failed poet that he is.  If you like Leonard Cohen you will love this.  He recites his prose and makes sure it doesn’t really rhyme or even fit in the rhythm.  As soon as it starts sounding normal he goes off on a tangent.  If we didn’t know better, we would assumed he is stoned silly.

The real problem with this album is the music.  Or more specifically the completely boring background tracks to Cave’s rants.  Perhaps the only half decent attempt where he bothers to try and fit with what the rest of the band is doing is this:

On a good day you will listen to that entire track and even half like it.  But the rest of the album is much much worse.  And on tracks like “Distant Sky” it is well, truly pathetic.  The man can’t decide if he is a devout Christian, a lost soul or a fanatic atheist.  The music is even worse in lack of positioning.    The choir and female backing tracks make your local school kids singing seem awesome.

That friend of mine from school is now a famous composer and doing really well for himself.  Personally I find his music banal and generally ripped off from others.  But hey, like Nick Cave, he is a success and the women love him.  Just goes to show.   Some girls will go crazy about this verse or the other in the album, fans will look for references and try to figure out whether the supermarket he mentions is Heaven or just the local 7/11.    Nick Cave is not a “rock legend” as some describe him.  He is a second rate musician, a third rate poet and a terrible songwriter.  If you like the words . ask him to do performance art at some cultural event, accompanied by a tuna, a trombone and a tit.  He has no place on a CD or near a band.  It almost makes me wish that night in 1980something in the basement Nick Cave had decided to just give up.