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Delirious With Weird

Monday, April 28, 2003  
I'm going back.

Come this time on Saturday I shall be on a train to Paddington, from whence I shall traverse London to Euston, and then head northwards alongside the M1 and A1 to that godforsaken place where I spent three years. It will be the first time I've set foot there in two years. Am I scared? Apprehensive? Excited? All and none. I feel as if I'm getting back to being myself now, as if I was put to one side for a while, while I was there, in order to look for something, something I needed in order to further who I am. And though I was never explicitly shown the thing I needed, I was pointed in it's genetral direction. And now I'm on the road.

There isn't a finishing line. I know this very, very well, and yet my laziness is partly down to wanting to have reached it; so I can stop and sit and, not even contemplate, just not. Just stop.

And so, because I'm going back, I've made a minidisc to accompany me on the train journey. I've tried to make this particular disc several times before. It is, of course, the songs I relate to the university experience, to those three years in Northampton... Why have I tried so many times to make this disc? Why have I only just got round to doing it? Is it suddenly satisfactory after all those years of disappointing? Of course not. At least; I think not. I stopped trying to make it profound and miserable; I accepted that yes, I had some shit times at university, but yes, I also had some amazing times. Some fucking crazy times.

And so it starts, of course, with The Rock by Delakota; the tune of 98 that I've enjoyed most. This time, for the first time since it's parent album was released, I used the 4-minute single edit rather than the 6-minute album version (which says, on the back cover of the album, ludicrously, Album Version, as if we couldn't tell on our own). Ostensibly I used the edit in order to be able to fit more songs on the 80-minute disc (I managed to cram 20 in), but really I love that absent intro and that delicious, blissful fade-out, the slowly setting tropical sun and the gently lapping evening tide; I love it so much that I felt I had to cut it out from the disc. After all, this is for Northampton; even the best of times were so frantic and vague that it was almost impossible to sit and contemplate and soak it in. So, no intro. No outro. Just those vague words about aliens and deserts and sitting on a rock with a speaker; that and, of course, the guitar sound... that circular trill, gold and red and warm and breezy, sand and salt water licks at your feet given aural truth and presence. It's a swoon, a palm tree waving, a breath of wind...

That's how it starts...

What else is there? You Just Have To Be Who You Are by Idlewild. I dissolved to that song; headphones, noise, complete destruction and noise and catharsis. Just walking across campus. At night. Broke down. Went and sat on some steps up to a temporary room. Who's the captain? No one can believe I'm a voyeur... It made sense. Now, of course, they're working in the area of pleasant, smart tunes, no longer this ferocious energy and intelligence and something denied; now they do want to be REM. But those six minutes when they were young and reckless and convinced they had the truth, for what the truth is worth, if only they could speak the language, and they could, when Roddy just screamed and Rod hit his guitar because playing it wasn't enough.

Once In A Lifetime by Talking Heads. Played in a lecture; something about postmodernism. How can something 'postmodern' have such feeling, was, I think, the point. Awesome. This rising, surging feeling; I'm drowning, say the lyrics, in a roundabout way, I'm drowning but I'm rising; I've lost my self. I've lost my purpose. I am free. This is not my beautiful house; this is not my beautiful wife... Where did that highway go to? Jerky and awkward and somehow precise; it's funky, in a crazy way. David Byrne's voice is so oddly mannered; this smart guy who is so not a rock star, who yelps and twists and can't carry a tune and yet lifts it up so high...

There is Aphex Twin. Twice. Two consectutive tracks from the Come To Daddy EP, placed far apart on this compilation. Further in mood. The first; another video played in a lecture. To poke fun at Adorno - first, some rag-time jazz, cheesy and safe and very much played for the audience. Adorno's point; that 'high' culture must necesarily be more difficult and progressive than 'low' or 'popular' culture. The lecturer's point; that it isn't. He played Come To Daddy, of course. Most of the lecture theatre sat there bemused and confused. A few looked worried. One or two looked physically sick (this was, after all, a fullscreen projector with surround sound - Richard D James' face filling an entire lecture theatre wall and screaming your mind out). This goes early on in the compilation; much later we get the ambient calm and childlike blip of Flim, possibly my favourite single AFX track (Richard D James Album and Selected Ambient Works 85-92 surpass it as complete pieces, but Flim is my favourite three minutes).

What else? More later...

4/28/2003 04:57:00 pm


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Nick Southall is Contributing Editor at Stylus Magazine and occasionally writes for various other places on and offline. You can contact him by emailing auspiciousfishNO@SPAMgmail.com

All material © Nick Southall, 2003/2004/2005