Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Eating cheese-on-toast at 10pm
Some kind of fucked-up, left-hand-drive Aston Martin Vanquish or something, automatic too, took me a while to figure out how to deal with it, how to get it to accelerate really fast, two of them, one with a pointy front. I think I preferred the non-pointy one, but drove the pointy one more. Not sure why. A tiny orb of plutonium or something in some kind of weird fucking psychic ring that stopped it leaking evil radiation. A big, one-armed, hairless mutant dude who was kind of squidgy and horrible but nice in his personality, and who had some weird telepathic ability or something and could tell me what was going on, what to do with the package, where to go, etcetera. I had a gun, too.
Last night I had a fucked-up special agent dream, in case you didn’t guess.
One other regular weird guy on the train is the chap with the big black briefcase on his lap, who looks like Mr Bronson from Grange Hill, moustache, glasses, whisky nose. He sits, arms on briefcase, head forward, blotting out the fucking terrifying existential disgust of his train-based commute every morning with music. He’s been through three pairs of headphones in the last two and a half years, steadily moving upwards into external noise-reduction territory, cutting out the outside world. At first he had some Sony W.Ear ones, then he moved on to the Sennheiser PX range. I have the 100s, which are open-backed and wonderful. The 200s are closed-back, and good, but I find them slightly disorienting. Above them in the range are a pair I can’t remember the number of, but which cost considerably more and which have some noise-reduction thing going on, blotting out external sound by creating frequencies which nullify those not from the music. Fuck knows how that works. They’re designed for use on airplanes, primarily. He had them for a while. Now he has some Bose things which are closed-back, have a little red LED on them, and fit completely over his ears. He’s had them for longer than either of the other two, so I assume he’s finally happy with them. Most of the time his eyes are closed and his head down, but he doesn’t look asleep. He looks… disgusted. He looks like he can’t stand being near all these horrible, talking, sweating, breathing, commuting people, reading their copies of The Sun and drinking their soda pop and finding solace in their bibles.
I’d love to know what he listens to.
I bet it isn’t the new Doves album.
Doves confound me. By rights they should be my favourite band. Expansive, intricate, melancholic psychedelic rock informed heavily by the structure and production of dance music. I used to have The Cedar EP on 10” vinyl, bought the day it came out. My friend Magnus hadn’t heard of them. I took it round his house. He could tell you what a record was by looking at the grooves. “This looks like a dance record? They’re a rock band?” “They used to be… Sub Sub.” “Ah.” It was ace, we both loved it. On the b-side was a tune called “Rise” which had harmonica and twilight forest noises. On their next single they had a track called “Break Me Gently (Incidental)” which I once played via a nice pair of headphones to a girl coming up on ecstasy and she said it was better than orgasm. There were these bubbling noises in it which drifted upwards. Actually I think she said it made her orgasm. But she table-danced in her holidays, had her clitoris pierced and claimed she could orgasm by walking upstairs in hotpants. Her boyfriend lived with me. He’s a good guy, if… indecisive. Just ask James! Oli and I taught him to cook. Now he runs a restaurant. Possibly.
Some Cities is another “good” Doves album. It’s less prog than the last one, which is good, because the over-reliance on production really began to grate on me with Last Broadcast. The songs are shorter, there’s more guitar. It sounds brilliant, because they’re great producers, but Jimi still can’t sing. His weak lungs, his inability to sustain his breath (and therefore hold a note) mean that every song he sings is structured the same melodically, each line falling away as his breath fails and falters and vanishes. But at least he’s not the other guy, who seems to exist only as a device to attempt sabotage on Doves’ songs by having some kind of grating, squeaky asthma attack over the top of them – when he takes lead vocals for one song and seems to deliberately sing it off-key, out-of-tune and in any annoying voice, you have to wonder how stoned they were in the studio when they thought it was a good idea. Their heritage as Sub Sub, which was initially what marked them out as special and gave them a creative and atmospheric edge over other bands emerging at the same time (Witness, Coldplay), possibly, but now their… lack of songwriting ability? No. Lack of a way with a melody, or a hook, or a chorus (I’m not bothered about a whole song, not really) is starting to severely hamper my enjoyment of them. They still seem to compose music in terms of structure and layering like they were making dance tracks intended for ingestion in a club, I’m not sure how, just in some intangible way, but… I’m not one for subscribing to Noel Gallagher’s belief that any “great” “song” can be played solo on acoustic guitar and still sound great (in fact I think that’s ludicrous piffle), but, you know, I’d like some hooks.
Work sort of kind of in a way gave me a rise / promotion yesterday, starting April 1st.
Oli – what is it you’re trying to recapture?
2/23/2005 10:16:00 am