The P Word
Today, the nineteenth of September, marks the day that Scott Fahlman posted the very first documented emoticons on the CMU bulletin board system. Did you know? I didn’t. It would be a comforting thing to say, that we’ve come a long way since :-) and its sadder operative, :-( but I’m not sure that it would be true. Both of those little guys still do the job as far as I’m concerned and I feel like too much of my psychic real estate is consumed over the selection and implementation of the “correct” emoji on Twoot, txt, email or wherever. Perhaps we could just all go back to leaving or omitting an X [that’s an ex, not a cross, Sony] at the close of our correspondence. If you don’t get one, you know you fucked up somewhere along the line? Engine check:
Last Friday was the thirteenth, which can mean many different things to many different peoples. Some are convinced that it bodes ill for newfound ventures and experimental cooking. Others posit that their lucky cup doth overflow on such dates and that these are fine, glorious days on which to take a walk, go diving or release a video game. Personally, I think it’s also a pretty good day - as good as any - to launch a record and that’s just what Pixies did with ‘Beneath The Eyrie’ (Infectious, 2019). I realise that there was opportunity on Tuesday to talk about this with you but I decided, unlike with my approach to 2016’s ‘Head Carrier’, to take my time with this one and allow my thoughts to coalesce more substantially as they would over time, like so many steaming unicorn tears on a cold, dirty mirror.
First and foremost, Tom Dalgety must be given massive kudos for a masterful job on production. Recorded at Dreamland Studios in Woodstock, ‘Beneath The Eyrie’ sounds every bit as though it were recorded in an old chapel, which is only natural because it was. He does a wonderful job of breaking down discrete elements in the video below and you can hear the space more than ever, particularly on David’s drums. Francis & fam have written an album that is as concerned with the sound and air inside a record as much as it is consumed with thoughts of mortality. Gone are the sometime awkward feels of ‘Head Carrier’ or 2014’s ‘Indie Cindy’. The band sound more confident than they’ve ever been since the great reformation of 2003 and doubly so with Lenchantin on bass. Fun fact, I had no idea that Paz used to play bass for A Perfect Circle before she joined Pixies in ’14 and that is a band that a certain Lady is very much there for. I digress. Album opener, ‘In The Arms of Mrs. Mark of Cain’ is precisely as strong and airtight as it needs to be, before we’re launched into the death-pop (callback to ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’) of ‘On Graveyard Hill’. I find myself still poking around on side A but closer, ‘Silver Bullet’ has a certain depth that I look forward to unpacking at further length.
Many of the song titles seem to hint at reflecting on past works and iterations of the band. ‘Ready For Love’ cannot help but remind a body of ‘La La Love You’ and has rings of both that and ‘Here Comes Your Man’ as well as being its own thing. ‘Los Surfers Muertos’ has ‘Surfa Rosa’ era Pixies written all over it and Joey Saviour Santiago morphs between 21st Century wizardry and those raw, yesteryear lines. It could be my passion with the most. Those of you in need of a restraining order may recall my obsession with the podcast in the run up to release. It’s seeing the relationship with their music, each other and the acknowledgement and shouldering of a shared, collective history that intermingles the personal with the professional with the crazy that makes it such a worthwhile expedition. Some peeps have said that it appears the ‘loud QUIET loud’ dynamic has been smoothed out and sure - they transition more ably than their younger selves - but it’s still there when it needs to be and the great news is that if you like the Pixies, then this is more of that, albeit with a little more control. The cover artwork and album design (Vaughan Oliver, Michael Speed & Simon Larbalestier) is just as strange and “found” as ever and longtime fans will have love for the black matte heavyweight 12” slip that ‘Beneath The Eyrie’ comes in. It’s a nice package and a fun time and that’s as much as I can pin on it, until I have devoured/assimilated everything thrice over. To that end, they’re playing Ally Pally in London town tomorrow night, so if ya got tickets…
Should you be either a tweed and/or dashing then you may be interested in the new collection at Dashing Tweeds in Marylebone. I attended their new line launch last night because Gordon is a gentle soul and also his father was responsible for those ponchos, donned by the fab four on the cover for ‘Help!’ Also, I have absolutely no idea where the punctuation should go at the end of that last sentence. [It’s correct…I think] I know all this because he was kind enough to gift me with an original - yes, in mono - press of that record when we first met. It’s somewhat tasty but totally playable and 100% an artefact. He popped in the shop the other day to see about borrowing the cover for their shop window, all of which is a very round about way of informing you that his collection for DT is groovy in the best possible and most English of ways. They used the OG patterns drawn up for the boys as a hi-def blueprint for the new collection. For reals. They’re also heavy into London Design week so if that’s your thing then you should definitely stick your head in for a peek at Gordon’s threads. While the cat does not generally “tweed”, there is a first time for everything and this might be it.
Finally, we’re back with Tmax today and it’s a bumper Brechtian [that term is not interchangeable with abstract] Kafri edition. There’s more to that building than first meets the eye and it would appear to be the case that inventive angles finds one’s lens if one would only loiter long enough. My favourite is the ladder and aptly placed poster, although both the kick/clutch and Hackney Brewery barrels have their place. Nearby, there’s the canal (shot from the window of my favourite new little cafe that has nice tables and a generous, varied supply of canned San Pellegrino] which offers up plenty to shoot on a decent day, particularly around golden hour, and a nicely lit shot of the main entrance to KS with which to finish. Well, I say finish but I get the distinct impression that I’m not done there yet. They have cupboards and I needs must peek.
You might notice that we’re playing around with a selection of portrait orientated snaps and looking to see how this effects the gallery layout. Bear with us. Oh, there’s another market shot too and this one has legs! I’ve had someone people telling me that it’s all about the guy dishing food from the shadows in a bowler hat. There have been others who claim that the star of this particular show is the (possibly) French gentleman, so animatedly intent on inspecting candidates for lunch. One individual even posited that it all came down to backwards baseball cap man and they might be right. All of these characters are in shot, doing their thing and it is a shot that has no lack of motion.
That being said, those people and their wild theories are all wrong because it’s actually about that little face, mid right, located just beneath a bottle of Evian.
JD - TACOCAT
[All photos of Dashing Tweeds courtesy of Guy Hills.]