Wednesday, 23 February 2011

when they scream they hurt your ears

There was a time when the incessant screech of feedback would be enough to hook me – to reel me in. This anti-musical sound. As the children now scream at the tops of their voices over everything from the type of spoon they have to whether they can have a bath – ‘right now’ it seems that I am living in my own version of Metal Machine Music – endless looping on the locked groove of side four. This appeal to wallow in the primal [scream] sound of fuzzing guitars and discordant melody that rattles and shakes the windows – let alone the bones was amply fulfilled in the teenage years of angst and anger.
There is a point in Sister Ray where the feedback curls into a phrase that I am sure was sampled by the Beasties. It’s the simplicity of the thing – the movement of the guitar, the speaker, the volume – and you can hear it – rushing to fill the emptiness. I would listen to those frequencies throughout my teenage years.

I think a steel town is made for feed backing guitars

And those moments in You Made Me Realise where guitars breakdown and the sound of screaming emerges. I had been into the valentines for some time – that anorak rush of ‘paint[ing] a rainbow’ while we [sunny sundae]smiled. It had all been bowlheads and treble guitars – our band ventured to a Leeds studio to recreate the highs of the Ecstasy long player – we were shrill [they were brill]. But the valentines kept on subsuming, rewriting, becoming fluid, this sound – this heavy heavy sound. Another Adelphi moment was had in the company of My Bloody Valentine, as I fired inane questions at Kevin Shields whilst he ripped pieces of paper from my question list to sort the floating tremolo on his Jaguar guitar. This was the start of Isn’t Anything - a disengagement from that Lazy past to a lazy future.

I stumbled across the video for You Made Me Realise – this super Super 8 footage of broken things and destruction as looped psychedelia washed over and over – not a bad way to start your day – as the Chart Show counted down the Top 10 Independent tunes. You knew it was a good day if you had managed to wake up early and have watched the Chart Show – how do you set your achievements with a rolling video station? If you saw the Chart Show you had made it up by 11.30 am – you’d seen in a morning.

And I would spend many a time in the company of My Bloody Valentine – I mean I would listen to them a great deal. The Tremolo E.P on tape- pushed into a Boots tape player all hiss and fizz in itself – as Honey Power played through the speakers as trains pulled in at New Cross Station – not the station’s speakers my headphones – but those merging of the everyday and the slow pulsating noise of Shield’s and Butcher’s guitars combining to create a new way of sensing the world – through haze and dreams as aeroplanes landed just outside. I witnessed the explosive effect of MBV several times – in Leeds, in York and London. Standing in the ULU alone within the crowd for two nights on the bounce – my body burning from the searing heat I had allowed it to be revealed to – this lobster turning redder – this celtic complexion having no favours done as the rough denim and large black jumper rubbed against that sunburnt skin. But I was there – right within the experience as You Made Me Realise came to a stop and the growl was released – slowly unfolding – sending us back – literally to the doors. I had a ticket for the Manchester MBV reunion – my brother having sorted them out – the tickets not the band that is. I couldn’t make the London shows and instead plumped for the sonic Sunday shenanigans in the North. Except I never made it – in a sad attempt to focus on my career I decided the futures of potential sixth formers was more important than Colm, Belinda, Debbie and Kevin’s attempts to make eardrums bleed and stomachs somersault. So the train was not caught and a well earned day off from school not had and the ticket remained unused – and my hearing was intact for a little longer.

So I have been listening to the ‘holocaust section’ from the ICA warm up concert – a stop start shambling sonic experience as the band slowly begin to lock into that symbiotic soul set up – creating beauty from noise. It lasts for fourteen minutess – I think it was stretched to around twenty minutes by the end of the tour. It isn’t the kind of ‘tune’ you kick off your Saturday night with. No that’s going to be a Sly and the Family Stone track. But as Kevin kicks in the effects and the initial squall begins to settle and through the chaos comes ambience [with teeth] it hurts and it rattles around and I have the option to switch it off – to forward the file. But I linger – I stay sucked in and listen – as pitches descend and tones ring with one another, against each other – discordant and melodic and slowly these frequencies take on even more shape – more substance as the rise and fall of the decibels continues – and somewhere in there I hear a plane – pushing its engines – searching for lift as the sky explodes in strobe light. As we begin to lose our breath and wake within that dream that Kevin and co. are beginning to soundtrack – and slowly we sway – we lose ourselves in this expansive mess of sound.

And then when we are thoroughly submitted – stupefied by the screech –we are jolted back with Debbie’s push of bass and Colm’s thump of the skins. That final riff – left ringing in the air.

This is music.

It may be in debt to this and that – the Stochausen and Sonic Youth and No Wavers and 60s chancers – but this is music that asks to be acknowledged – to be confronted – fought with.

And sometimes I feel like a fight.