It's been a very busy day for me, taking care of some promised duties, but I did manage to edit and upload Jeff Lynne thanking everyone for his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There's a couple more vids of the event I plan on throwing up on You Tube tomorrow. I'll try to finish the account of mine and the Mother Unit's escapades in Tinseltown tomorrow.
This is actually just a marker to note the date that what I'm hopefully going to write all about tomorrow, after I've had some rest. The Mother Unit and I spent the day in Los Angeles to cheer on Jeff Lynne, who received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I have pics and vids to prove it! But, for now, I need to rest the brainmeats and maybe even sleep.
The Flint Cheat Sheet
Character study on the Darkling, Simon Flynt
- Born Simon Flynt in the post-Mortality years near Waltham Forest (now Epping Forest, which ispart of Greater London) to a blacksmith and a baker/midwife. One sister, named May.
- Developed a strong friendship and bond with childhood friend Gareth Owen, whose family had relocated to Waltham from Wales.
- Transformed into a Vampire at the age of 27 after leaving a pub for home. The Vampire who transformed him is unknown, but was probably part of the Darkblood Hive, passing that lineage on to Simon. He was given the Vampire name of Absinthe, suggesting that the Vampire who had brought him into the Hive was quite possibly French. Simon rejected the name and returned to his mortal name, hiding his new identity from family and acquaintances. Only Gareth knew what Simon had become, and took that secret to his grave. After it was obvious he was not aging, Simon pretended to leave Waltham, when he actually just took refuge in the forest, feeding on hunters, travellers, and anyone else who may happen to find themselves in the depths of the wood. Gareth also gave blood to Simon, who now called himself Flynt, deepening their bond.
- After the death of Gareth, then an old man, at the hands of none other than Cadmus Pariah, Flynt changed the spelling of his name to Flint and joined a roving band of actors who put on Passion Plays in each village they came upon. Flint could only perform at night, and used the excuse of artist's preference as to why this was.
- Moved on to become an artist in London, painting and sculpting all manner of subjects, from landscapes to people. He also took up swordsmanship during this period, the rumours of his prowess in this becoming local legend.
- Sailed to America once his eternal youth became suspect in London. Was known in the southern colonies to be an eloquent travelling preacher. Was one of the first to hold nighttime tent revivals. Was often called Brother Flint during this time.
- Relocated to New York to begin a new life, once again finding a niche in the art world.
- Bounced from region to region in the US until present-time, where he settled in Los Angeles and no longer bothered to hide his Vampiric nature. Flint the Vampire became well-known in the club, art, acting, and Beat circles.
- Has large round hazel eyes that occasionally flash an eerie phosphorescent green.
- Dark blonde hair, kept at a lanky length just past the ears.
- Stands at just under 5'7”, making him slightly shorter than the small but highly dangerous Cadmus Pariah.
- Often mistaken to be a crazy street preacher in various metropolitan centers.
- Prefers females for his blood, but has no qualms taking males. Is well-received in the LGBT community.
- Is fond of animals, often having a dog companion. He shares this trait with Dmitri, Kelat's soul mate.
- Although tempted to transform his beloved Gareth, Flint has never brought a soul over to the world of Vampirism. He has just never really been interested in doing such a thing.
- Loves to hang out in matinees while waiting for the sun to go down.
- Is fond of comedy.
- Tends bar in some of the clubs he goes to on a occasion.
- Has a fascination for the modern world's technological advances and the odd fad.
- Enjoys participating in protests and has been registered as a subversive by Homeland Security. He doesn't care. Protesting is fun.
- Likes to be bare-footed when at all possible.
- Visits Epping Forest as often as possible.
- Likes to read, and has often visited Clive Barker at book signings and various other events.
- Has a collection of swords, from his years of being a practicing swordsman.
- Carries a camera with him everywhere he goes.
- Likes all kinds of music, and was actually a fan of Magnificat, not recognising the leader as the man who killed Gareth.
- Favourite emoting gesture is the shrug.
- Possesses the ability to anubis into a common rat.
- Cannot abide the sun, but has no trouble with religious symbols and artifacts.
- Has a strong Compulsion and Glamour ability, but cannot maintain either for very long, mainly due to a lack of self-confidence when it comes to such magicks.
- Chose to remain within the New Hive when the Original Ten were reconciled by the Augury of Gideon. He felt he had nothing to offer the world as a mortal, and decided to remain wandering in the eternal night.
- Rarely kills, and only when he absolutely has to. This does not come from some lofty ethic; rather, he would prefer to dedicate all his time to the drinking of blood, not caring enough to make a kill unless his prey becomes too vocal or physical in their protests to his attentions. These are usually mostly straight men who find themselves in a compromising position with another male. Instead of having to listen to an endless diatribe against his practices, Flint just disposes of the prey and moves on to the next one.
- Has the ability of super speed, and can run like a cheetah if he can be bothered enough to do so, and that’s not often.
- Developed tapeta lucida upon being transformed, which may be the reason behind his strange, flashing eyes. His night vision is double that of most Vampires and he can actually see in infrared as well, seeing heavenly bodies usually only visible to high-powered telescopes.
- Spirit animals: the domestic canine, the brown rat, the badger, and the moth.
- Affiliate plants: most deciduous trees.
- Affiliate gemstones: emerald and agate.
- Scents: opium and tobacco (specifically pipe tobacco. No one knows why, and Flint doesn't really care why).
- Music Preferences: Chamber music, Early 80s Punk and New Wave, Electronic, Hip Hop, and Trip Hop. It has been suggested in some Darkling circles that Macklemore's Thrift Shop was a product of the artist meeting the Vampire in - you guessed it - a thrift shop.
Vagabond Vampire, Simon Flynt was born and raised in the days just after the end of the Great Mortality, near what is now called Epping Forest. After his transformation into the Darkblood Hive, at which time he was given the name of Absinthe because of his unusual eyes, Flint spent decades haunting the formerly-named Waltham Forest, long enough to become known to the people of the area as The Waltham Phantom. He does not know his Blood parentage, and had to learn about what he had become from his dearest friend, Gareth, who had learned about Vampires from a tribe of Romani passing through the forest. He is distinct in that he possesses tapeta lucida, and is seemingly cloaked from detection by Cadmus, which gives him a particular advantage when they finally do cross paths. He has long had the habit of looting thrift stores and charity shoppes for clothing intentionally way too large for his small frame. Since he is essentially homeless, his wardrobe is his home, which he wears in layers, discarding what he can no longer use, as he goes along. Flint has never used his given Vampire name, Absinthe. (anchors and influences - I’ll leave it to you which are anchors and which are influences: Tim Roth, Wavy Gravy, Ted “Theodore” Logan, Abby Hoffman, Jimmy Stewart, John Lydon, Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest, the Fool as represented in the Tarot, Viva la Vida by Coldplay, Inigo Montoya, Casanova, Hipsters, the Golden Age of Hollywood, Evangelical revivals and medicine shows.)
We would go up to Craggy Dome at least once year to pay our respects to Granny.
The last two times I visited, it was to add Aunt Tudi's ashes to Grannys. I went back up a couple of weeks later, broke my camera, got lost, and finally got back to Janice and Uncle Michael's.
I want to go again. One more time. I need it. The only other place I could imagine being happy to die there is Craggy Gardens in Asheville, NC, and magick that is Avesbury.
Visiting the area from which we scattered Granny's ashes in 1993 seemed to bring a kind of peace to Aunt Tudi. She might have started the journey a little down in the mouth, but crazy music and dangerous coffee took care of all that. And it allowed us to have the fun, I'd like to think Granny would have wanted us to have. The one solemn moment was when Aunt Tudi would retouch the black cross on the stone from which we launched Granny. I could always tell when she needed some alone time. I never thought I'd be making that drive by myself, intent on tracing a Pentagram beside the cross. Aunt Tudi was not a Wiccan or a Pagan, but she grokked it in a way a lot of self-proclaimed Witches are at loss to understand.
I want that sensation of flight and try to spin onto my back like a bag in the wind, so I can face Nature's painting masterpiece and maybe even glimpse the spirits of Aunt Tudi and Granny, as they stand to welcome me after gravity has had its dark way.
I need to go home.
To me at least, the Shrieks have always felt as if they were otherworldy creatures dropping strands of (sometimes rather ichorous) knowledge on us. It might not be immediately intelligible, but there'salways been something there (barring "naked apes and pond life", not sure about that one...) worth examining. This is no exception, the terpsichorean wordplay and capering tunes all come together rather nicely. Much like "Life in the Loading Bay" the album is also possessed of that odd assurance that only comes from having been around the block a few times. There's no doubt, no existential crises, and no peacocking about in some confused attempt to get the attention of a lover or a contract. Not to say that any iota of energy or mystery has been sacrificed for this maturity, that's all still there, in grand amounts, it's just not wasted. Just, you know, buy this. You'll not regret it.
That's not all. Dadjago has plenty more to say, as do all the ones who have so far added their two daktari to the fray. Amazon is only offering the digital album, which can be purchased by clicking the album cover featured in the image above. But you can still obtain the actual physical CD from the band themselves. Having the lovely CD booklet and libretto is well worth the wait for the mailman to come calling! Or you could just do both. The more support the Shrieks have, the more likely we are to get more ingenious music from them.
- Sun, 22:35: @shriekbackmusic #Shriekback Song of the Week http://t.co/59bedmgjxr #Nemesis #CarlMarsh #BarryAndrews #MartynBarker #DaveAllen #Facebook
- Mon, 08:57: RT @FreyaMeansLady: gonna shave my head gonna clear my mind @shriekbackmusic #Shriekback 13th album is #WithoutRealStringorFish Get it @ ht…
- Thu, 13:46: RT @shriekbackmusic: SOFT ESTATE http://t.co/fcb3CAQ4NJ #shriekback #WRSoF #newmusic #newalbum #barryandrews #carlmarsh #martynbarker #songs
- Thu, 21:30: RT @neiltyson: If the Pledge of Allegiance told the truth: http://t.co/Iy5zoyMOls
- Fri, 08:14: Twitter is a mechanical device to frustrate the sacred ends of language. #twitter #language #twitterslang #140characters #ARGH #JamesJoyce
- Fri, 09:33: Thx!!!!! xoxoxo
- Wed, 20:28: RT @shriekbackmusic: #Shriekback Signs Live 1992 http://t.co/7fBeBIFFH8 #SacredCity #MartynBarker #BarryAndrews #CarlMarsh #WithoutRealStri…
- Thu, 08:40: Shriekback The World’s Second Best Pop Group with a Bald Singer By Dave Segal (‘Creem’ June 1987) http://t.co/uEfq7cem0C
The World’s Second Best Pop Group with a Bald Singer
By Dave Segal (‘Creem’ June 1987)
“…Shriekback have opted to make a different kind of music – one which exalts human frailty and the harmonious mess of nature over the simplistic reductions of our crude computers.” – liner notes to Big Night Music. This thing called Shriekback is a strange beast. Trying to describe them gives me one hell of a headache. The new Shriekback music (it’s called Big Night Music but it could just as easily be called Small Morning Music) screws with rock critics’ rote jargon. If you wanted to be crass, you could label ‘em an intellectual funk band with gospel/cocktail lounge pretensions. Unlike most Anglo-Caucasians who funk around with black styles of music, Shriekback throw a skewered light on what, in pedestrian hands, can be a brain-numbing genre. You can attribute Shriekback’s uniqueness (no lie) to keyboardist/singer/lyricist Barry Andrews.
Andrews has full control of Shriekback now that Carl Marsh has departed with his Fairlights and drum computers for solo obscurity. Pared down to a trio (Dave Allen, he of the Zeus-like bass playing on Gang of Four’s first two LPs, and Martyn Barker on percussion toys), Shriekback have for the most part ditched Marsh’s vision of a “harsh disco reality” and gone for a rococo/eclectic sonic gumbo that’s as slippery to grasp as Eno’s skull in a bathtub. There’s a slickness to the Andrews/Gavin MacKillop production on Big Night Music, but don’t let that trouble yer noggin. It’s a good kind of slickness; Andrews has a Byrne-Enoesque aesthetic that enables him to craft exotic pop of excessive fussiness (‘Black Light Trap,’ ‘Running on the Rocks,’ ‘Sticky Jazz’) or of severe sparseness (everything else). You could call this The Soft Album without too much controversy.
Oddly, some of the songs sound better with the volume turned down. Perhaps because he can’t sing very well, Andrews often resorts to an intimate whispery delivery. Very nice and relaxing, this voice. And he’s a clever gump, too. It’s not by accident that wispy, gentle toons sit cheek by jowl with swollen brassy epics; and then out of nowhere will sprout a pretension-deflater like ‘Pretty Little Things,’ which sounds like Prince on helium and dexies. I tell ya, listening to Big Night Music is more fun than working in an abattoir on a humid day.
Andrews has the serene monkish demeanor of the Keith Carradine character in the Kung Fu TV show. Before Shriekback, he was in XTC from ’77 to ’79, and he also played with Robert Fripp’s League of Gentlemen in 1980. He’s a peace-lovin’, broad-minded intellectual dabbler wearing a black floppy hat and a long black coat. We had a civilized chat amid the delicately bubbling jacuzzi water inside a swanky Detroit hotel. Andrews proved to be more stimulating than a week’s worth of The Dick Cavett Show.
CREEM: Why did Carl Marsh leave Shriekback?
BARRY ANDREWS: He wanted to do solo things, really. Carl’s quite a self-contained sort of bloke I don’t think he ever found it easy working with other people. The band was becoming a two-headed beast that was tearing itself in half. Oil and Gold (released in ’85) suffered from that. A bit of schizophrenia between the Carl direction and my direction. I like things when they’re soft and vulnerable and maybe even a bit maudlin. I like a certain amount of crying into my Guinness.
Did Marsh’s departure cause a change in your sound?
Definitely, there was a sort of opening of the sluices. When Carl left, I felt like, firstly, I’ve got this huge canvas to work with on the whole record. It’s all gonna be my words, my tunes. So instead of it being this common denominator area we could inhabit with Carl, what the three of us could agree on was actually a bigger area because there were fewer things to filter out. I wanted to try doing something very simple and direct and emotional, like ‘The Cradle Song,’ Just trying out every option and seeing what’s possible. There’s a certain amount of experimentation that doesn’t work, but a whole lot that does. Normally we wouldn’t have even dared to try. Big Night Music is diverse. I don’t think anyone could complain about it being too homogenous. I think there is a coherence to it that we’ve never achieved on a record before, with the possible exception of Care (released in ’82)
Does everyone have creative input into the words and music?
I’m the sole lyricist. On the new album, Dave confined himself to bass playing, Martyn did a whole lot more than he’s ever done. He plays all the drums and does lots of percussion. So he’s actually responsible for quite a lot of the textures. I’m really responsible for the way the whole thing sounds and the structure of the songs. I can’t imagine collaborating with someone on a song. It would be like having somebody advise you while you’re having sex with somebody (laughs). There’s so much that just happens in your head. It’s quite a fragile process and it’s not something I could easily involve someone with.
Your lyrics have a stream of consciousness to them…
A stream of unconsciousness…(much laughter).
Sometimes it’s brilliant and at other times it leaves the listener baffled. Maybe they’re too oblique for universal understanding.
Maybe that’s a valid criticism. I don’t go in for any kind of broad political commentary.
You write more about personal things?
I don’t know if they’re even personal things, really. What I try to do is create an entity with sound that has not existed before. The songs are meant to be things you can walk into and walk around, that have their own kind of smell and atmosphere and texture. They’re not meant to be billboards or television programs. Or newspapers. The lyrics aren’t the point any more than the bass drum pattern’s the point. You might have a very good pair of kidneys but that’s not your whole story, is it?
If I asked you what ‘The Reptiles and I’ is about, could you tell me?
I can tell you what I was trying to do. It’s what it is for you definitely. That’s a nice fatuous answer, I suppose, and it’s what it means to me. And that’s about as far as it goes. I had this idea of using a lot of lists that I found in Webster’s Dictionary. A list of languages, elements, proverbs. I liked the idea of a bunch of verses that were lists. I was trying to create a nursery rhyme that would work in an adult way and would have that sort of darkness about it, that sinister kind of thing that the best nursery rhymes have. I’m really a little kid sitting at the foot of the great god Language. I’ve really got no command over it. I pretty much take what it gives me. I get excited by all the different ways people speak in the same way. I get excited about all the different cultures people can have, all the different ways of being in the world. It seems very rich and diverse and brilliant. And it inspires me.
Were you influenced by any writers?
I steal a lot. I’m a complete bastard for that. I’ll tell you the dead ones. I’ve ripped Shakespeare off something rotten. I’ve had my way with T.S. Eliot. Martin Luther King. The Bible. Certainly bits of the Koran. Complete verbal beachcomber.
At least you’re taking from great sources.
Oh yeah. That’s what they’re there for. To get crunched up and recycled. I don’t do it in any cynical way. It’s like doing a cover of a band’s song that you really think is a good song. It seems silly to wrack your brains when somebody else’s said it so well. I just rip it off. Shameless, really.
Have any current songwriters influenced you?
David Byrne’s approach – when I was a bit more uncertain about writing lyrics – he seemed to offer quite a good little cubbyhole to hide in, where you could get away without saying anything at all as long as it sounded all right. But on this LP, I got less and less satisfied with what you could do with that and more interested in what would happen if you pushed the thing up toward the light a little more. So things like ‘Cradle Song,’ ‘Reptiles,’ and ‘Gunning for the Buddha’ are like little narratives, stories, which I’ve never attempted before. Getting into the old Tin Pan Alley thing. People like Gilbert and Sullivan and the English music hall singers. Popular Victorian kitsch. Edwardian parlor songs.
Shriekback is often labelled an intellectual band.
It’s high time we burst that bubble.
Are you college-educated?
No. It was between making a choice of being in a rock’n’roll band or going to university.
Are you religious?
I don’t belong to a religion. I don’t have any faith, in that way. I do have a strong religious sense. It’s difficult to say without it sounding pretentious. I have a sense of awe of a kind of religious veneration or worship in the presence of what is around – people, mainly, the rush and energy of people and what they can do and build and keep going on and having babies. Just what it is to be alive. There’s definitely a force that moves us on in a mysterious way. I said to someone once that I feel about religion the way I felt about sex when I was 12. You know there’s something going on, but you don’t know what the fuck it is!
To read more about Shriekback's music and career, please visit their website (sign up for the newsletter for free downloads) and Tumblr. You can also join in our conversations over on Facebook. And, while you're at it, pick up a copy of their new album, Without Real String or Fish!
- Mon, 09:23: RT @neiltyson: Ever notice how Vampires & dead people, who sit up in their caskets, do so with a straight back? They must have good abs.
- Mon, 09:52: Without Real String or Fish - Shriekback (reviewed by Dave Franklin) http://t.co/3WnybKLV1Q via @lazarusgreenman #NewMusic #NewAlbum #review
iTunes just played a song I've been hunting for for almost 20 years, without being able to remember the composer or title of the piece, except for the word "Gypsy". I had it on a cassette that was nothing but Romani-inspired Classical pieces, which I found in a bargain bin in Camelot Music in 1985. The tape broke around 1990 and I had long since lost the case card, so I couldn't remember one flipping thing about it. This song…this song was incredibly influential in the forging of Thiyennen Vathyella back in 1986. This, an assload of Antonín Dvořák’s works, and traditional Klezmer music.
The last time I tried to find the song was about mid-2014. I could hear it in my mind and, at one point was intent on translating it to keyboard, 'cos I used to be able to play things by ear. My hope was to record myself playing the song - badly - and share on social media, in the hope someone could identify it for me. I couldn't get to the Unit's keyboards, though, because *hoard*. It was only then I became resigned to never finding the song again.
It's been on my iTunes for fucking years and I didn't even know it!
What's so bizarre is, I was sorting through some paperwork having to do with Thiyennen at the time the song began to play.
That’s some Six Flags over Synchronicity shit right there, I kid you not.
Without further ado, I present the undeniably Vampiric Danse De La Gypsy by Camille Saint-Saens.
The past couple of days have seen me regain my lost focus on things I needed to do. Along with it was a wonderful spurt of energy, which I have tried to utilise for best effect possible. Yesterday, in particular, resulted in a great deal of Shriek dissemination. I'm thinking knowing I'm going to be taken off life's stage for a goodly portion of the weekend that spurred the flurry of activity.
Late tomorrow morning, I'll be going back under the knife - and "sander" - at the dentist's office. "But why?" you may ask. "I thought you got a full set of dentures!" And you would be more than justified in any confusion this has imposed on you. My permanent teeth never fit me correctly, but I was waiting for the gums to heal more before I went for any adjustments. The problem only got worse over time, though. The dentures are too large for my mouth to rest with my lips closed. I have to work at keeping my mouth closed, which gives me a distinct chimpanzee appearance. If I don't close my mouth, I look like this dog.
When I laugh or smile, Tuna is replaced by Mr. Ed. But it's not the aesthetic that distressed me as much as the health concerns. Because the teeth were so large and ill-fitting, I couldn't use them to bite food, and there wasn't enough room in my mouth to even chew properly. The act of grinding the teeth together in an effort to chew was not only unsuccessful, but excruciating. Being a GBS patient, I have to chew my food beyond thoroughly. Any small amount of unchewed food can get caught in my tiny digestive track, which means it will come back up. My inability to chew resulted in a lot of vomiting so, almost a year out, I'm still on a soft food diet. Let's just say I'm fortunate to love potatoes and cottage cheese so much.
Then, there was my speech. I've always been very self-conscious about my speech, because of the variety of accents in my family and, upon entering school, being teased for having a lisp. At the age of 6, I began speech therapy with myself. I obsessed over tongue-positioning to cloak the lisp and, a couple of years later, I was almost lispless. That didn't stop the kids from doing what kids do, though, so speech became an issue for me early on. Obviously, without fangs in my face, and because of my almost life-long practice of tongue positioning, my impediment is magnified. With the teeth in, I have a whole new set of speech problems, from sounding like Gopher in the Winnie the Pooh cartoons to slurring my words to the point of sounding like a drunk zombie politician on the campaign trail. I have to repeat everything I say, all the time. This is particularly frustrating when I go see Dr. Harrington. He's deaf as hell and my unintelligible blarghing is counter-productive to a successful talk-centric session.
The combination of pain, inability to properly eat or speak, and looking like the ugliest Osmond in all of Utah drove me back to the dentist last week to hopefully get them adjusted enough to where I could lead just a fraction of a normal life. I saw a different dentist in the office that day, one Dr. Habashi, who is hubba-hubba-level handsome. Unlike the dentist who took me on after my first dentist, Dr. Preber, moved to Northern California, Dr. Habashi listened to everything I had to say, noted by areas in my mouth that I was not exaggerating, and gave me a thorough exam, including another full digital imaging of my head. After gathering all the evidence, he gave me the bad/good news. The bad news is I'm one of those rare individuals who, instead of having the occasional, inevitable bone shard still in my gums work its way out as the gums healed, some of the shards established residence and began developing spurs. Even though I did have a couple of shards work their way out, which is quite normal, it turned out that I had a few more that remained, forming hard knots all over my gum lines, top and bottom. This was keeping my gums inflamed and made wearing the dentures pretty much impossible and agonising.
The good news is, this can be fixed! He set me up an appointment for a second oral surgery to basically "sand down" my gums and remove any bone left behind from the first surgery. I will then have to be refitted again for properly-fitting dentures. Thanks to b_bopper55, I will be able to pay for the second surgery, but the new teeth are obviously free, considering they were not made correctly, and did not function in any way dentures are supposed to work. So, hopefully soon, I'll stop being left-side Ren and finally transform into right-side Ren.
I'm thinking that this surgery may be worse than the initial extraction surgery. There's an image of a NYC high-rise construction worker ambling into the operation room after I'm put out, revving up his industrial electric sander and wearing a grin that can't say anything but "Serial Killer in Training." So, I'm trying to get as much writing and advertising done today as I can. I've already alerted the band that I will probably be incommunicado for most of tomorrow and all of Sunday, and I am finishing up a rudimentary outline of the five main characters of The Harming Tree. I've been writing a lot of late, but all of it is currently disjointed, as I write what is "given" me, and that process is never a consecutive narrative. So, yeah, I may be posting a good bit about Shriekback today, as well as posting my 5-character study with accompanying anchor images.
- Thu, 12:45: Fairly certain my cat pal, Smidgen, is part Ferengi. She goes bananas over Oo-mox. #startrekthenextgeneration #STTNG #StarTrek #cats
- Thu, 16:20: Funny how I had to move out of the South before I realised how Southern I actually was. #Asheville #NC #TheSouth #Culture #CA #SC #SanDiego
- Thu, 19:52: RT @shriekbackmusic: #MOJOMagazine 2013 #Shriekback #OilandGold http://t.co/1PJlPhcItA #80s #80sMusic #80sBands #Retro #Review #NewWave #Mu…
- Thu, 20:40: 2013 MOJO Magazine Article about Shriekback's Oil & Gold http://t.co/0iNafuziGO
- Thu, 22:09: RT @shriekbackmusic: #Shriekback: Without Real String or Fish | Cheers, @daveexmachina #carlmarsh #barryandrews #martynbarker http://t.co/F…
- Fri, 09:43: DO WANT! RT @drskyskull: Got my @shriekbackmusic box set! Comes with a 3-d printed fish because SHRIEKBACK. http://t.co/hc5798VVu5
As seen on Shriekback's official Tumblr.
Filter Buried Treasure
Dug up from the permafrost of punk-funk obscuria, ex-XTC and Gang of Four men explore the emotional life of monsters. It’s alive…
Shriekback - Oil & Gold
Throughout the rock epoch, commentators have slagged record companies for the dilution of art in pursuit of profit. Full marks to the Arista label, then, for releasing Shriekback’s Oil & Gold. A chthonic portal into an inverse world of eat-or-be-eaten terror-funk, macabre amusements and terminal ambience, it would have sat heroically askance in the Phil Collins and Wham!-embracing charts of 1985.
Co-vocalist Barry Andrews looks back on an anomalous situation. “There was a precedent in the Thompson Twins - also on Arista, also signed by the bloke who signed us - of a band turning from weirdo, uncommercial ugly ducklings into great big shiny ‘80s cash swans,” he reflects. “I think Arista still held out a wispy hope that that would happen. The cover idea was to make us look dreamy and great, but we ended up going for a gang of eels and feathers, which were props that became the main event. Once again the record company were not totally made up.”
Formed in 1981 in Kentish Town, the group’s core consisted of ex-XTC keys man Andrews, Gang Of Four bassist Dave Allen and Carl Marsh, former guitarist in squat funkers Out On Blue Six. Having logged such unnerving dancefloor releases as My Spine Is The Bassline and Tench EP on the Y label, they’d signed with Arista for 1983’s Jam Science album. After July ’84’s crisp single Hand On My Heart got to Number 52, they regrouped for a third LP, having been joined by drummer and Fairlight sampler operator Martyn Barker.
Andrews recalls a complicated genesis, commencing when the band took 20 rhythmic sketches to Rockfield studio in south Wales, with producer and future Hollywood soundtrack composer Hans Zimmer (who turned up three hours late, copping a £600 black cab bill after missing his train). “Everybody was involved in a lot of groove-building and improvisation to get ideas rolling,” says Marsh. “Then Barry and I would pick the ones we fancied and write lyric and melody ideas and structure them into songs, after which everyone would pitch back in with ideas to fill in all the gaps.”
After more session at Lillie Yard in west London, mixing took place in various studios in the capital and Bath. It was not an over-harmonious process, remembers Andrews. “There were a lot of major rifts,” he reveals. “Our manager wanting to sack me, Carl was gearing up to leave, Hans getting sacked - we ended up mixing with Gavin MacKillop. God we spent a lot of money.”
What emerged clearly thrived on the discord. Opening with the febrile, spasming Malaria andtwo more feverish funk eruptions sung by Marsh, Shriekback’s strangely scientific world of primordial nature was revealed in its noisy, intoxicated splendour. Drastic contrast was provided by This Big Hush, a phantasmal, possibly post-apocalyptic contemplation of ultimate extinction sung by Andrews, and similarly spectral pieces including the Cretaceous instrumental, Coelocanth. Marsh cites lead single Nemesis - which name-checked 2000AD comic’s alien hero who battles Earthling superfascist Torquemada - as “the one that sums up all the themes and contrasts into one pop blast. The animals and monsters, the tensions between instinct and intellect, nods to high art and comic books, and big laughs in dark places.”
Despite this, Marsh would leave the group after the album was completed, fulfilling press and photo duties but bailing before the touring could begin. “I did feel that the band had become a bit of a two-headed monster with myself and Barry both fronting it and pulling in different directions,” he says. “That said, I’m actually always surprised the album as a whole has such a unified feel. I guess we had a common purpose after all.”
The group forged on, but despite all efforts including an arena tour with Simple Minds, Arista’s dream of an immaculate cash swan would prove chimerical. Director Michael Mann, however, would add to the group’s cult cache by selecting Oil & Gold tracks for his movies Manhunter and Band of the Hand. “He got the tenderness in the weirdness, I guess - the emotional life of monster,” muses Andrews. The singer continued to lead Shriekback, with 1986’s Big Night Music a worthy companion piece to its predecessor, but would cease operations after 1992’s Sacred City. The beast would not die, though, and four more releases down the line, Marsh was back in earnest for 2010’s sterling Life In The Loading Bay. Now Barker is also returned; the three-man line-up is finishing a new album.**
Twenty eight years on, Oil & Gold remains visceral proof of what they’re capable of. “The actual title came from a lyric that wasn’t used,” reveals Marsh. “‘It’s as physical as oil and gold’. It was the contrast between dark, sticky, clingy blackness and bright, hard clarity that seemed to encapsulate some of Shriekback’s extreme qualities.”
**The new album referenced in Ian Harrison’s article is Without Real String or Fish, our thirteenth studio album, just released earlier this month. You can learn more about it on the official website. Please join us in the discussion on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for free music downloads and current Shriek activity.
Happy Throwback Thursday, good souls! I'm currently transcribing a rare article that looks back to the Shrieks' Oil & Gold and upload it before the end of the day. In the meantime, enjoy this interview straight outta Belgium.
And if you have not yet procured Without Real String or Fish, what on Earth are you waiting for? The new album is sonic brilliance that I'm certain will enchant you more with every listen.
Many of Shriekback's fans may be a bit cultish (pulls innocent face), but we know great music when we hear it. You can trust me when I tell you that Jam Science - the album released around the time this video interview was made - is an excellent album, and that Without Real String or Fish is an absolute triumph, proving the band are still mad musical geniuses. Their ability to still provide relevant music that outshines their contemporaries is so evident, one cannot logically debate it. Click their gateway logo to the left, to explore their store, and grab yourself a copy of WRSoF.
dprescott just reminded me of something that happened yesterday. He had posted a picture of his dinner, captioning it as "Grilled Cobia." I read it as "grilled cobra," because I am fucking blind. With his unintentional PS on Facebook, I'm almost certain the story I'm about to tell would easily earn me the money I need for glasses, if I decided to tell it on a site like GoFundMe.com. Here's the skinny. Try not to laugh too hard at me. I got enough of that from the Mother Unit and Matt.
Mid-morning, yesterday, I began to develop a migraine headache. With the aid of darkness and Simpson oil, it subsided enough to where I thought I could go to the drum circle in Balboa Park, get a little fresh air, and hope it went away altogether.
Taking Toby, we headed out around 3:30. As soon as we arrived, Toby took a huge dump right on the edge of the circle. As I was trying to pick up the mess, the plastic bag broke, and I ended up with shit all over my hand, even under my fingernails. Channeling the cursed spirit of Sal Vulcano, I freaked the fuck out, and had to go into a park restroom that looked more like an unlit stone prison cell used by the Spanish Inquisition, to scrub the flesh off my fingers.
After that, I went back to the circle, but the drums seemed to just echo in my skull. It was excruciating, so I took Toby, who was threatening to mark people's drums, and wandered away to try to drain his pipes and quiet the brain ache. About an hour later, I was seeing auras again, and couldn't bring myself to go back to the circle, so I settled in near where we parked, and apologised to passersby at whom Toby thought it was his sworn duty to bark.
On occasion, I would gaze longingly up at the drum circle and, honestly, I was nursing a pretty sour "poor me" attitude, until I saw something really odd. On the edge of the circle, I saw what looked like two dogs getting it on, in time with the drummers. To me, it looked like a dark brown boy dog with lighter fur on his inner thighs, just going at with his girl, legs off the ground and everything, and no one seemed to notice what was going on! If they did, they just didn't care. Now, I wasn't scandalized by the public boning; I was more amazed that they were doing it to the beat.
I kept staring at this, agog at how no one was witnessing this awesome moment of natural symmetry, until...the boy dog lifted his head a little, and I saw that it was actually a long-haired Hippie (this was the Rainbow Family drum circle, after all), who had been bent over his drum. What I thought were the boy dog's back legs were actually the guy's arms as he kept time with everyone else.
See, this is what happens when a half-blind fucktard with a migraine headache decides it's a good idea to take an asshole dog to a drum circle. I'll inform everyone when I have my GoFundMe page ready to accept merciful donations for my prescription glasses.
Dear god, dear god...
- Sat, 15:45: Shriekback and Me http://t.co/lxHv2bLb98 via @popmatters @shriekbackmusic #barryandrews #manhunter #concert #shriekback #REDDRAGON
- Sat, 17:05: RT @shriekbackmusic: Video: From 80s-DJ on YouTube. http://t.co/hMIWYc8gaw #Shriekback #BarryAndrews #Accretions #DaveAllen #CarlMarsh #Demo
- Sat, 17:26: Burning Flame : Shriekback Release Their 13th Studio Album http://t.co/dS5K27raYH @shriekbackmusic #Shriekback #WithoutRealStringorFish
- Sat, 20:17: Living in close quarters w/a #Manx cat in a year-round warm climate is like being trapped in a slo-mo explosion of fur forever. #DoubleCoat
- Fri, 19:01: The conjuring up, the bringing out, the putting forth, the looking back. #randomthought #writingprompts
- Fri, 21:09: Inner Jelly http://t.co/fBVdbNdNqg
- Fri, 22:15: Human societies should be gauged by how they treat the non-human Earthlings living amongst them #PETA #AnimalRights #factoryfarming #torture
- Thu, 12:31: RT @shriekbackmusic: #WithoutRealStringorFish #BeyondMetropolis #Shriekback #CarlMarsh #BarryAndrews #MartynBarker http://t.co/yDa6PjduGF
- Thu, 12:57: Beyond Metropolis http://t.co/YR62nEIioP
- Thu, 13:44: Waist of Time: the middle portion of an hourglass.
- Thu, 14:56: RT @shriekbackmusic: #Shriekback #Mothloop studio demo http://t.co/IcAUqA5trh #TBT #CarlMarsh #DaveAllen #BarryAndrews #ThrowbackThursday #…
- Fri, 11:58: If you keep 500 loonies at home in Canada, you are financially healthy. If you keep 500 loonies at home in the US, you run an insane asylum.
‘Without Real String or Fish’
Track by Track: ‘Beyond Metropolis’ (BA)
I often think about whatever alchemy of mind and circumstance it is that produces that elusive Last Track - the one that appears when the album seems to be over. When you think you’ve mined whatever seam of compressed life-experience, obsession and influence-cluster it is that songs come from and you’re not exactly content but applying a sort of willed gratitude that, at least, it’s not all total shite, and - a baby miracle - another tune comes into being that you really didn’t expect and that seems to have, more than the others, a character that didn’t seem to have much to do with you (a bit like your children).
I find these are the ones I tend to listen to for fun the most. They’re more like someone else did them. Past examples include Sticky Jazz, Coelacanth, Exquisite Corpse and Hubris. On this album we got two: Beyond Metropolis and Soft Estate. Both voyaging into new territory: with BM an alt-funk anthem in an aircraft hangar with shards of space junk flying out of the darkness at you.
The chorus being a Bowie-esque, aching sunset of chords encouching word clusters of outrageous audacity. There is - gasp- even a key change (yeah we can do that muso shit if we want) and a key change back.
The groove upon which it was built was a thing I wrote a couple of years back, I had sent it to Carl but he hadn’t - as of last summer, when my ‘we are now finishing this fucking record if it kills me’ protocol was in full effect - come up with anything for it. I had booked Stuart Rowe for the mixing; we had enough tunes; Carl had 3 songs on the album; God was in his heaven and the sun was sporting a roguish titfer. Then..
..in his fearful aspect as the demiurge of deadline bending, Carl sent a roughie I couldn’t refuse. At a stroke, the mixing (which was to have been a stately affair of considered tweaking and contemplative strolls around the elegant parterres and formal gardens of the Lighterthief estate) turned into the usual Shriekback panicked scramble as we struggled to bring the prodigal Beyond Metropolis to the same stage of development as its siblings.
Not to do so would have been unthinkable, of course: it had the word: ’Enchromosoniradiopolis’, fer crissakes. The heart bows down.
19 March, 2015
In the past couple of weeks, I have learned something very cool, interesting, and sometimes irritating about Senegal Parrots: it's difficult to earn their trust, when they are adults and see you as an outsider, as I was and still am to a great degree. But... Once they decide you're kosher, they do a complete 180.
This is the case with Pink, named after the band Pink Floyd, but is more responsive to 'Pinky' and 'Pink-a-Poo'. I've had more exposure to Pinky because he doesn't live in the bird room since the others bully him, and he has this tendency to try to fly into my room to get to Syd and Nancy, who are his parents. No, he's not visiting affectionately. He's manifesting the tenets of "trickle down economics," which dictates that shit rolls downhill. Since Syd and Nancy are enclosed, he struts around on the top of their cage, pretending to be a gangsta. He's lost a toe or two for his trouble, and that's why I have to get him out of the room as soon as humanly possible. I have to use a fully extended Professor Fluff'n Dust, as seen in this picture, except it's a vibrant green, same as Pinky. I'm not sure if he sees the thing as a rival bird, or just something that's pissing him off because it's in his face, but Pinky can't resist jumping on the duster and showing it who's boss. I then have to keep the duster close to the floor and rush him out of the room before he decides he wants to fly back to Syd and Nancy and pretend he's a badass. Ain't nobody got time for that! Once when I was doing this, the bird got a wild hair and decided to fly into the closet, landing about two feet away from Smidgen, who looked up from her half nap, and essentially said "what-the-fuck-ever." It became a sort of game, at least in Pinky's opinion. So we've been dancing this particular two-step for about a year and a half now.
In true aspiring vulgarian fashion, I'd swear like a peg-legged pirate every time he outsmarted me to get into the room. There were times the little bastard would actually laugh. I think Pinky and Butter are the only two who do this, although I may be wrong. So, the more I cursed at him, the more he'd talk back. We had an ongoing dialogue about how he pissed me off by flying into the room, and I'd piss him off by wielding the Duster of Dread.
But that hasn't been our entire relationship. I was actually on the road to establishing a friendly relationship with him, until I made myself a tinfoil hat for shits and giggles one day. The first time Pinky landed on my shoulder to mooch some of my popsicle, he looked up to find the shiny menace on my head, and immediately started backing up, inching down my upper arm, and growling. Yes, growling. Senegals growl at things that alarm them. For quite some time after that, Pinky kept his distance, despite my overtures for friendship.
But, a couple of weeks ago, it's like a switch was flicked in Pinky's brain (hahahaha! Pinky and the Brain!), and he decided that I was a member of his family and that he was rather fond of me. That's an understatement, really. As I said, Senegals are hard to seduce, but once they've been won over, they fucking own you. I don't go out of the room now without Pinky landing on my shoulder and making what I call a laser weapon noise in my ear, although it's much softer than the laser guns you hear in movies. It's like a pew pew pew pew pew sound. Not only that, but if he thinks he's not getting the attention to which he's entitled, he starts pinching my earlobe and pulling my hair. I always give him a couple of snow peas when I feed Syd and Nancy, and he's taken a shine to eating them either on my wrist or my shoulder and spitting the parts he doesn't want down my shirt or in my face. If I get a popsicle, he's right there, ready to claim his portion of the treat. I have to stay in the kitchen or living room to eat the popsicle and share with Pinky. When the other birds are out and I happen to exit my room for some reason or other, Pinky braves the wrath of Little Foot, who has one hell of a vicious grudge against the lad, to come say hello to me and ask for neck and head scritches.
The scritches just started happening over the weekend. One morning I reached my hand up to him so he could climb aboard and have our daily moment but, instead of getting on my hand, he turned his head around and gave me a sort of stink eye. He turned his head so much, it reminded me of Regan in The Exorcist. I drew my hand back and he straightened back out, so I reached out again and, again, Pinky pulled a Regan. I was about to shout up to Matt that something was seriously awry with his bird, then it hit me - Pinky was actually asking for head and neck scritches from me. Since I've had the shit bitten out of me several times, I very slowly extended my index finger until I made contact with Pinky's feathered head. He was eating it up! And, ever since, he solicits scritches almost every time I venture out of my room. In fact, I can't leave the room without Pinky being on me like a freckle, demanding scritches, pulling my hair, popping his tongue (it sounds like a person making a popping bubble sound with their lips), lifting his wings and vibrating them, and just generally being in my face. Earlier today, as I made my way upstairs, the crazy bird came out of nowhere and landed on my back. I felt like a pack animal! A couple of days ago, he landed on my head and refused to move. I couldn't take the time to get him off me, so something I never imagined would happen, happened: I found myself sitting on the toilet, pooping, with a bird on my head pulling my hair. It was a South Park moment, no doubt.
I've already informed Matt that his bird is now mine, since he's converted Toby to his Bald Boy Club. All joking aside, and despite the irritation of Pinky's criminal behaviour and his penchant for pulling my hair, pooping on me, and literally being in my face, I feel very honoured that he finally decided he likes me. From what I understand, if a bird isn't bonded to you, the older he gets, the less of a chance you have of winning him over. I think Pinky is around 20 years old, so this is monumental. Who knows, maybe we'll get close enough someday for him to decide to molest me, like he's doing to the Mother Unit in the video below. We can but hope!
Mail just arrived, and with it came this.
I hate I couldn't afford the special box set with the 3-D fish, but I've been blessed with a lot of wonderful and inspirational music over the years, with the promise of more to come, so I really can't complain.
I'm looking forward to listening to Thee Caretakers' bonus disc to hear what dark sorceries Carlo Asciutti and Bruce McRae conjured. From looking at the images on the sleeve and CD, I'm already convinced it's going to be a strange, wild ride. Thee Caretakers have proven more than once that they're irredeemably certifiable.
If you haven't already nabbed a copy of Without Real String or Fish, I advise you to not tarry. I don't think it will be available forever, not in CD form at any rate, and you really must have a physical copy in the event of escalated world war where we're all cut off from one another. Click this pic to order the new Shriek, and don't forget to add the bonus Caretakers disc, as well.
- Mon, 12:50: A Big Night - Music, Youth and Na�vet� http://t.co/H13rB7oGQr
- Mon, 12:53: RT @shriekbackmusic: A Big Night - Music, Youth and Naïveté - 1987 Shriekback concert http://t.co/MupcZKYGzQ #BigNightMusic #BarryAndrews #…
- Mon, 20:29: Thanks 2 @slicingeyeballs 4 sharing news of #Shriekback ’s #NewAlbum ! http://t.co/3uZivccZEL #WRSoF #CarlMarsh #MartynBarker #BarryAndrews
James from Canada was kind enough to share his Shriekback concert experience from 1987. Read on, MacDuff!
A Big Night - Music, Youth and Naïveté
It was back in April of 1987 that I got to see Shriekback live for the first (and, it seems, last) time, during their Big Night Music tour. It was just a few days after my 18th birthday, so I was having quite a nice week. The show was at the now-defunct Concert Hall in Toronto, a cozy little venue with a standing floor space and a large, wrap-around balcony above.
After making our way past the merchandise table, where one of my friends bought himself a Big Night Music T-shirt (still kicking myself for not doing the same), my friends and I found our place up in the balcony, with an almost "front and centre" view of the stage.
As we sat there, I remember the excitement at seeing all of Shriekback's instruments on the stage: an eclectic mixture of modern electronic synths and old, earthy bongos, gongs and bells. We knew that this was going to be a great show!
I don't recall who the opening act was, although I think it might have been the Comsat Angels. We didn't care, though… we were here to see Shriekback! After what seemed like an eternity, the house lights finally went down, and the crowd went wild. As the dry ice fog slowly filled the stage, we could see movement in the dark… who was that? If my memory serves me well, it was Steve Halliwell first out on the stage, wearing a little hat on his bald head (no doubt to avoid being mistaken for Barry!) Steve got the dark synths going, and as the multi-coloured stage lights pierced and wound their way through the fog, the rest of the band slowly came out, one by one adding a new layer of instrumentation to the intro track. As the intro built to a crescendo and the first track came crashing in, Barry himself slunk onto the stage to raucous applause.
It's been so long since I saw this show, that my memories of what got played are pretty vague. At the time, though, the Shrieks had already started working on their next album - the much maligned Go Bang - and some of the new material made its way into our Big Night Music setlist. The opening song of the show was "New Man", followed by a wonderful mixture of Big Night tracks and earlier material, all energized to the highest degree for an exciting live experience. We heard "Black Light Trap" and "Gunning for the Buddha." Classics like "Nemesis", "Hammerheads", and "Lined Up." Go Bang's "Intoxication" got introduced to the crowd around the half-way mark, and the show wound down with an encore performance of "New Man."
What a show it was. So exciting and fun. One thing which really stood out to me and my friends as we sat there taking it all in, was just how much of a good time everyone was having - both the audience, and the band itself. I've been to many concerts where it seemed like the band was just "phoning it in", but that wasn't the case with Shriekback. These guys know how to work an audience! There was lots of dancing and clapping, and Barry engaged and entertained the crowd with funny stories about how his pants kept sliding down, while encouraging us all to sing along: "let's hear it again… 'My Spine.. IS THE BASSLINE!' ", and "With the GREAT BIG FISHES!!". It was truly a special night, and everyone left with a big smile on their face.
It was also during this show that I experienced a bit of a life-lesson, although I didn't know it at the time, of course. As my friends and I were waiting for the show to start, we spent some time looking around at the gathering crowd. Our attention was drawn to one individual in particular - an older man, probably in his 50's, with grey hair and glasses, standing at the back of the balcony. Now, remember that we were just in our teens. Young and naïve, you could say. Alphaville's "Forever Young" was our anthem song, and music like Shriekback was only for us "cool, hip, alternative" types! So what was this older-than-30 guy doing here? He wasn't even wearing anything black, for heaven's sake! "Hey, check out the old geezer back there," we laughed among ourselves. As the show progressed, we occasionally looked back to see the "old geezer" clapping and dancing along to the music. "Ha ha," we thought sarcastically, "go home and put on some Easy Listening, will ya!"
Well, fast-forward almost thirty years, and here I am in my 40's - the proverbial "old geezer", still listening to Shriekback. While my hair isn't white yet, the grey has definitely started to creep in, and I really must see the optometrist about getting bifocals. It is only now, later in one's life, that you realize just how silly and naïve some of your attitudes were when you were younger. Usually, though, these moments of realization come when you find yourself doing something that you swore to your parents you would never do. Like telling your kids to be extra-careful, or not to swear or watch that rude TV show. I never expected, though, that it would be via the medium of a Shriekback concert that I would learn one of the truths about life's little pleasures. Namely that good music is timeless, and crosses all boundaries of language, culture, and, yes, age. Good music is there to be enjoyed by everyone. I wonder if the guy I saw at the concert that night, who by now must be in his 60's or 70's, is listening to Without Real String or Fish? I sure hope so! I know that I will still be listening to the Shrieks in the coming decades, and that's something I'm definitely looking forward to!
©James from Canada
14 March, 2015
- Fri, 13:22: What song is your fave on #Care by #Shriekback?http://t.co/KmO0iaXeDS #DaveAllen #CarlMarsh #BarryAndrews #80smusic #80sbands #songs #poll
- Fri, 18:29: Don’t burn bridges ‘cos you may need or want to re-cross them. But I’ll be on the bridge I burn, dropping the match between my feet.
- Fri, 19:25: Forced to watch adverts on Hulu. Asked “is this ad relevant to you?” NO. No ad is relevant to me. Leave me be. #hulu #advertising
- Thu, 16:23: Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) needs to be our next president. #warrenforpresident #2016
- Fri, 10:59: Shriekback - Accretions: http://t.co/BaADLiZl2d via @YouTube
- Fri, 11:38: Vote for best song on the #Shriekback Facebook page. http://t.co/AOxEstpnJk #Care poll up soon! #80s #daveallen #carlmarsh #barryandrews
- Mon, 14:58: Coelocanth: The Last Shriekback Song I Will ever Hear? http://t.co/xD0mRPNWRN
- Mon, 20:04: Human Extinction FTW! http://t.co/9CgiuaacPk
- Mon, 20:22: RT @shriekbackmusic: Shriekback's 'Without Real String or Fish' - a Song-by-Song Review #Shriekback #NewMusic #80sbands #rocknroll http://t…
- Tue, 09:57: RT @neiltyson: I wonder what a gov’t “Of the people, by the people, & for the people" means given advertising’s power to sway an electorate.
I've been watching this guy's videos for a couple of months now, and all I can say is that his work is always fascinating and provocative. His latest, though, is downright pornographic for anyone (me) who dreams of the Alpaca Lips every single day. I love the fact that he references my homeslices over at The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. Click the pic to visit their fine spot of virtual real estate.
Inspired by listening to Without Real String or Fish, James from Canada (his preferred cognomen) felt compelled to share his thoughts about the mighty “Coelocanth."
Coelocanth: The Last Shriekback Song I Will ever Hear?
So here we are in 2015, and Shriekback have just released their 13th album, Without Real String or Fish. And a most excellent album it is, too: full of the usual Shrieky goodness - clever lyrics and wordplay, groovy basslines, catchy tunes that run the gamut of dark, light, thoughtful, funny and sombre (often at the same time!).
So it is not surprising that while one is feasting on a plate of brand new songs, that one also reflects on a band’s past releases, and how they may have influenced one’s musical tastes, preferences, or - perhaps - one’s life.
In my case, I'd like to look back at one particular song - "Coelocanth" - the atmospheric conclusion to the Oil and Gold LP back in the 80's. I was a teenager back when Oil and Gold was released, and at the time I preferred all the hard-rockin' tunes like "Nemesis" and "Malaria." So while I loved most of the Oil and Gold album, I always thought that "Coelocanth" was a piece of crap. "What the hell is this?" I asked at the time. "Did Shriekback hire Zamfir and his cheesy pan flues to play on this record?** Awful!" As far as I was concerned at the time, Oil and Gold finished with the conclusion of "Hammerheads." And so it went for many years... until Manhunter.
Many Shriekback fans either discovered or re-discovered the band as a result of Michael Mann’s film Manhunter, which featured the Shriek songs “Evaporation,” “This Big Hush,” and “Coelocanth.” For me, when I saw the famous tiger scene in that movie, set to the music of “Coelocanth,” I had a bit of an epiphany. All of a sudden, this song wasn’t a cheesy woodwind “extra” tacked on at the end of Oil and Gold, but something which really penetrated deep down into the soul. I promptly began to listen to “Coelocanth,” and with my ears now finally open (so to speak), I realized just how haunting and beautiful a track it really was.
Back in the late 90’s, I once had a dream about this song. I remember it quite vividly - I was lying on some ocean beach on an alien world, with a huge ringed planet rising in a dark aquamarine sky. I heard “Coelocanth” playing somewhere in the distance, although I knew that I was alone on this planet.
At the time I didn’t give the dream much thought… it was just a cool thing that happened. Well, you can imagine my surprise when several years later, while I was surfing the internet for some new desktop wallpaper for my Mac, I came across this particular image at the Digital Blasphemy website :
This image - minus the palm trees - was almost 100% verbatim what I saw in my dream. It really chilled me to the bone to see my "vision" realized by some person whom I'd never met. Of course, I immediately pulled out Oil and Gold and played “Coelocanth,” and found myself thoroughly captivated by the synergy of sound and image…it was absolutely hypnotic, even magical. I had already grown to appreciate that once-belittled track “Coelocanth,” but from the moment I heard it in conjunction with this image from my dream, it just became so much more.
So why is it that I say “Coelocanth” is “the last Shriekback song I will ever hear?” Well, it may not be, but - and this is where I perhaps get a little morbid and over-the-top for some readers, but bear with me - I have for many years thought that “Coelocanth” would be the perfect “last song” for me. The last song is essentially the soundtrack to one’s end: when you’re on your death-bed, and you know that you’ve only got minutes left to live, but you can pick one piece of music to accompany you as you journey out of this world and into “whatever-lies-beyond.”
For me, “Coelocanth” conjures up many feelings and imagery. The obvious one is that of prehistoric fish moving through the dark depths of an ancient ocean. But I also see strange alien landscapes (as in my dream), or even the infinite depths of outer space, filled with stars and galaxies. Combine all that imagery with the background synths and trickling water samples, and you have a concoction that just soothes the soul in a way that’s hard to explain. This is why I would be quite happy to spend my final moments with this song in my head. It really encompasses, well, just about everything, for me. Not bad for a previously-mocked, little 4 minute atmosphere track at the end of a 30-year old album.
So why all the “deep-thought” and rather mawkish gushing over this old song? Well, for me, it really demonstrates what I (and no doubt many other Shriek fans) love about Shriekback. How their music grows on you over time, and how deeply it can affect you. It’s not surprising that I’ve been a fan of the Shrieks since the 80’s: they’ve consistently delivered amazing and diverse music, and the new Without Real String or Fish album continues this tradition. Hopefully there are many more wonderful albums coming from this talented bunch in the years to come.
©James from Canada
8 March, 2015
**with apologies to any fans of Zamfir. I also heartily recommend Digital Blasphemy’s Desktop Wallpaper site. The worlds that this guy creates with 3d software really go well with the whole Shriekback vibe. “Without real worlds or matter”, I guess!
- Sat, 13:28: Shriekback - Without Real String or Fish Official Videos: http://t.co/kT9td7ckPw via @YouTube @shriekbackmusic #NewMusic #NewAlbum #80sbands
- Sat, 15:19: Video Playlist http://t.co/bMxzqZB4Pe
- Sat, 21:39: @Dancingmanfound As someone who danced from age 2 until I entered school 42 yrs ago, I can't stop grinning for you! #bulliessuck #yourock
Also, if you want to buy the album, which I advise you to do, as it may be the best decision you make all year, click the festive Shriek logo to your right to be taken to Shriekback's online store. While you're there, click the music option, 'cos there are songs there to download, some of which are free!