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Delirious With Weird

Tuesday, May 06, 2003  
So what else made it's way onto that minidisc that was designed to soundtrack my closure with Northampton?

Something Like You by Michael Head & The Strands and Cornish Town by Shack. Weekends were dead in Northampton for students. Most students hadn't travelled far to be there (who would?) and it was such an anti-student den of violence and thuggery at weekends that the wise ones left for the parental bosom if they could. Being 250 miles and five hours by rail away from South Devon, this was not an option. I would go home once a term on average, always a spur of the moment. Thursday night into Friday morning the panic would reach an unbearable climax and I wouldn't sleep. Come the morning my bag would be packed and I'd make my way to the railway station where I'd pay £60 or so to get out of the place for two and a half days. Yes, it did get that desperate sometimes. But on the weekends when I didn't seek to escape I would stay in; the town heaved with local people on Saturday daytimes and the pubs were all spoiling to be the host of violence in the evenings. Weekdays were safe and comfortable; weekends were resolutely not. And so, on more than a few Saturday evenings, I would buy a bottle of red wine and spend the night alone in my room with only Mick Head and his companions. HMS Fable didn't touch me much, apart from John Heads' two tunes, Beautiful and Cornish Town, the latter with it's euphoric kiss-off line "you're trailing colours through the air / I know you're some fine baby..." not sure of thre explicit meaning of those words but more than aware of their effect. It was The Strands album that really got me though, and Something Like You was the finest tune, folky and delirious but so gentle. Some songs from those three years in Northampton I can't listen to now, but others have transcended association because they're simply wonderful. HMS Fable as a whole has been dumped in my brain's mental bad bin; The Strands haven't.

Olly once professed that his favourite album ever was Let's Get Killed by David Holmes; because of this My Mate Paul squeezed on. We did, after all, had some good times there... Many nights of drunken or stoned idiocy soundtracked by varied and cool stuff, funky and designed to soundtrack those precise moments. Track two from T Power's extraordinary Self-Evident Truth Of An Intuitive Mind LP also found it's way onto the MD; shorn of the preceeding track's deliberate psychedelic build up the shock of those deep bass pulses was lessened, the lull of synaesthesia not set in place to be smashed apart, but the track itself (Amber? Red? Magenta? Turquoise?) still brought back memories.

I saw At The Drive-In's last ever UK gig (their last ever gig fullstop? I can't recall) at Camden Electric Ballroom in late 2000 (if memory serves). The legend is true; they were awesome, Cedric a ball of mutant energy, hurling himself from speaker stacks and spitting incomprehensible bile, chastising the audience for moshing and cajoling them for not dancing, while the rest of the band sent huge, discordant and sharp waves of noise rebounding off the underground walls of the sweatpit that is the Electric Ballroom. NME pissed their pants over this furious, angulur Texan five-piece, spunking beads of hyperbolic praise over their every move for a period of about nine months before the band split, presumably due to having been toiling and sweating for six years to achieve something only to find that the something they'd been afetr was a crock of shit. The big-haired two would go on to form Mars Volta. The other three wouldn't. Whatever; Relationship Of Command and Vaya were fine, nay, stonking records, and Enfilade from the former found a place on the Northants MD. It opens with an ansafone message of a Hyena threatening a leopard's cub ("10,000 kola nuts wrapped in brown paper, midnight, behind the box..."), climaxed with a strafingchorus about cartoon villians tying innocents to traintracks (presumably an important socio-political allegory about something), and even threw in a middle-8 replete with dubby bass and Augustas Pablo-style melodica lines drifting hasily in the background. You don't expect that from an NME-sponsored post-hardcore dissident politik Next Big Thing.

Enfilde was in a one-two sucker punch alongside Asian Dub Foundation's awesome and celebratory New Way New Life, another slice of post-punk, post-dub, politik partying from an NME-hyped source. Elsewhere I placed the first six-minutes of Godspeed's Dead Flag Blues, ROYGBIV by BoC, the opening track from Witness' crushed and tender 1999 debut, and Such A Rush, Coldplay's anti-materialistic early-peak from The Blue Room EP (Martin actually spitting and passionate for once; "look at all the people / going after money / why can't you be happy?"). I even, yes, found room for an Embrace song. They did, after all, feature very heavily during my three years in the wilderness. One day I might even find the time to document that stream of experiences and oddities in full; for now I'll just say that I found the only Embrace song that really fitted the situation and mood; the 1 minute 43 second, wordless paranoid blaxploitation work-out, Bunker Song. It seemed to fit. On the first day I ever heard it I had to kick down my hosuemate's door because he'd done a runner and left us with debts to pay.

The full tracklisting;

The Rock by Delakota
Come To Daddy by Aphex Twin
Something Like You by Michael Head & The Strands
Such A Rush by Coldplay
Track 2 from The Self-Evident Truth Of An Intuitive Mind by T-Power
Dead Flag Blues by Godspeed You Black Emperor
2nd Life by Witness
You Just Have To Be Who You Are by Idlewild
Break Me Gently (Incidental) by Doves
Bunker Song by Embrace
New Way New Life by ADF
Enfilade by ATDI
Eurostar by The Boo Radleys
Cornish Town by Shack
Flim by Aphex Twin
My Mate Paul by David Holmes
Once In A Lifetime by Talking Heads
The Teacher by SFA
Horses In My Dreams by PJ Harvey

5/06/2003 10:58:00 am


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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