Friday, October 31, 2008

As Fools We Are

I wrote a Halloween/All Hallows' Eve themed post last year and this year I decided to have another go with the theme being the connection between Halloween, which has become increasingly "celebrated" or at least commercialised in the UK in recent years; the event known "Bonfire Night", held to celebrate the failure of Guy Fawkes and his co-conspiritors to blow up Parliament in 1665 and, this year only, the dénouement of the most fascinating US Presidential contest in my lifetime!
This wonderful cocktail of superstition, religion and politics needs a soundtrack and a dark one at that - of shock, fear, change, possibility and perhaps ultimately redemption. Here is my condensed selection of music for the next week:

To start with is the album 'Rock It To The Moon' by Electrelane. The fairground ride has the word 'pleasure' on it, the lights are lit, but the whole scene is deserted.
The music is similarly almost devoid of voices: On the first track a dog barks in a distorted electronically-warped sound-scape. When voices do fleetingly appear on tracks they are often indecipherable souls - the snatch distinguishable is "some fallen angels". This is what I imagine happens when the 'Piper At The Gates of Dawn' reaches the end of the road and is negotiating with Charon. Much of the later output by Electrelane is similarly obscure and, while less obviously so, instrumental, and seemingly concerned with some journey - the 2007 album No Shouts, No Calls would be suitable too.

In the last couple of years the UK has seen a huge explosion in music perhaps best termed nu-folk which, although not at all a unique phenomenon, has produced some remarkable artists and when dark, disturbing songs are required few can hold a candle to Laura Marling. Last Monday 'Night Terror' was finally released as a single but it originally appeared in 2007 on the 7" EP 'My Manic and I' and the title track is no less disturbing.

Not everything is so scary and, sticking with the nu-folk acoustic genre, here is a band that have been around for a couple of years now but are finally getting some well-deserved recognition. They are called Fireworks Night and take a slightly more mellow approach and, to support the Halloween theme, their female co-vocalist is Rhiannon; for those with long memories the very same as the benevolent mythical Welsh witch who was made famous, at least in music, by Stevie Nicks.

Their first release was a 7" single in 2006 rather prophetically titled
'The Day We Fell Through The Ice'.

It was followed in 2007 by the album 'As Fools We Are' and, while not exactly cheerful, it is quietly optimistic about the way things will turn out and I like it for that.

They have not been idle since and their new EP 'A Mirror, A Ghost' will be available on Organ Grinder Records very soon.

Like music, like life.

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