Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Happy happy happy

Morning everybody.

I've had complaints.

Specifically, I've had complaints that Vole Towers has become a dark, miserable place in which weeping and lamentation has replaced the usual upbeat sunny disposition which is my natural state.

It's tempting to direct you to take it up with the management, but as I don't believe in God, I'll merely point out that I'm a product of my environment. The cure for happiness is, I believe, a daily newspaper. In many ways, I'm very happy. Great friends, brilliant teaching duties (though far too much of it at the moment) and all sorts of things are going well and so on. I've even read 6 novels in the past few days while only receiving one book (a critical guide to Volpone). It's just outside my little box that the misery is relentless.

But for today, I'm going to bow to popular demand and make lemonade from lemons (one of my least favourite phrases ever).

What's made me happy today? Well, I received a new CD of Luke Bedford's music, Two-Headed Nightingale and other pieces, beautifully played by the Scottish Ensemble Modern and others. I can't put any up here because Youtube is woefully lacking in modern classical composers' works, but some of his older stuff is playable here. He's a bit like Arvo Pärt without the smug ineffability which comes from being pompously religious. There's a bit more zip and drive to Bedford's work, and beautiful parts for viola, that loveliest of instruments. Even my post-punk office colleague asked what it was approvingly.

Also, I woke up this morning with Inspiral Carpets songs playing in my cranial juke-box. Long dismissed as second-rank Mancunians, I think they're rather wonderful, especially as a singles band. The singer had a sharp, distinctive voice, the organ driven songs are insanely catchy and the lyrics bear more weight than, say, the Happy Mondays. How many upbeat pop hits feature the words 'I took food from the hand of a starving child'? as 'Two Worlds Collide' does?

Then there's 'Commercial Rain', an out-and-out floor-filler whose video really reminds me of those heady days in the mid-90s when getting bashed and sweaty at the front of a gig was my idea of heaven:

Inspiral Carpets - Commercial Rain (US Video) by InspiralCarpets-Official

Or the Mark E Smith-sung 'Saturn 5' and 'I Want You':

Much underrated, I felt. When they split up, their keyboard player Clint Boon headed out on his own as The Clint Boon Experience, and gathered about him a Boon Army. I bought the albums. Fun organ-driven pop. I can't resist spin-off and splinter group music. They're often glorious and sad at the same time. Some bands are more than the sum of their parts. Some members transcend what they did as a group, to the world's total indifference: just look at Scott Walker's career. The man is a stone-cold genius, but the world doesn't want to hear the musical experimentation of a man with an apocalyptic world-view and a devotion to Kurt Weill and Brecht. Clint Boon doesn't care. I saw him a couple of times. He'd turn up dressed in head to toe white denim, play a set, then a DJ set which was frequently very, very dependent on music he'd made on his own or in the Inspiral Carpets. Not a shy or retiring character, but one who communicated an infectious joy.

So there we are. Me being happy.

Now feck off or I'll set the dogs on you.

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