Cremin of the crop

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Mere months after his return to album action, Musician and producer, Paul Mex is back again with a new release, Guilty Fist, that he describes as ‘the first record … since 1989 that (he’s) reasonably happy with‘. Personally, I was more than happy with Dr Jekyll and Mrs Hyde; and whilst much of what appealed to me about that record is present and correct here, this is a release with more layers and richer texture, both musically and lyrically.

Performance poet, Bernadette Cremin, who also contributed vocals to …Jekyll… had taken the driving seat this time around, enlisting Mex to complement a collection of mostly spoken word pieces with individual soundtracks. It’s a collaboration along the lines of Steve Hogarth and Richard Barbieri’s Not The Weapon But The Hand, a lyrical/musical split that hinges on a personal and musical sympathy.

For argument’s sake one might discern three intertwining threads amongst the nine tracks on offer: the album begins and ends with purely-instrumental pieces, created by Mex. High Ceiling has a somewhat perfunctory intro feel: affecting in and of of itself, albeit lacking any obvious connection to the following track….

….Mosaic Revisited sounds as though it was conceived during the …Jekyll… sessions: a swaggering, guitar and drums-driven number, over which Cremin lays a smokey drawl. It has an improvised, stream of consciousness feel that my head just nods along to unbidden, in a cool way. Along with Beat and the title track, it’s the most ‘rock’ sounding thing; though the aforememtioned are respectively lighter and more funk-flavoured; and slower with a grungy feel. Mex’s long-term friend and ex-Porcupine Tree player, Colon Edwin guests on Beat, and it’s a compliment when I say he leaves his personality behind in service to the track, contributing only groove (by contrast to a long-ago Liane Caroll gig which her bassist husband nearly ruined by wanking all over it).

Growing Pains and Fruit for Rumours foreground (Cremin‘s) words more overtly. The music accentuates meter and bolsters the narrative without getting in the way. Exactly.

(Closer) Sad on the other hand (another Mex instrumental) is both affecting and effective, with subtle musical and emotional sophistication: it picks up on the sombre mood of preceding track Poetry (my favourite song on the album, synth-sax and all…) and ruminates unto sleep.

Having recently reviewed, and to a point, enjoyed, Steven Wilson‘s latest; I couldn’t help but be minded at times of that album, trailer single Perfect Life in particular. Superficially, the similarity is pronounced – a woman narrating aspects of her life over moody, electro-rock soundscapes – and there’s more than a passing resemblance between Cremin‘s vocal and Katherine Jenkins‘, a similar casual affectation belying emotive, subject matter. What slightly disappointed me about that album is showcased somewhat more effectively here, however: a sense of an authentic female voice. Wilson is a sensitive, imaginative man; but a man, nonetheless. And though the musical accompaniment is more rigid, less syncopated and ethereal, my second point of reference is Ursula Rucker: there’s a similar understated passion and grit in Cremin‘s delivery. Whether Guilty Fist is a ‘concept album’ per-se I’m not sure, but as Sad winds to a close, I’m left with a sense of catharsis, of a chapter (in her life’s) ghosts laid to rest.

Poigant and elegiac, and powerful stuff.

And the Wilson track, by way of comparison:

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Colin Edwin Interview

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Interview with sesssion basssist Colin Edwin, discussing his ongoing relationships with singer/songwriter Steven Wilson and also Eraldo Bernocchi. Album review (of his latest work with producer, Paul Mex and performance poet, Bernadette Cremin) to follow.

Liberal = incontinent

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(access to) pornography has changed the landscape of adolescence beyond all recognition

I don’t quite buy that. The (intellectual) stumbling block I’ve always found with critics – mainstream critics, that is – of porn is the notion that it depraves and corrupts. I’ve read/viewed enough porn over my (near) 42 years to realise that it fairly represents my sexuality. Nonetheless, I’ve never felt license to violate human bodies to the extent that the GP in the above article describes. And what is this thing with anal sex anyway…

‘…in-vaginal ejaculation is so novel it occupies its own, minority-interest ‘kink’ category (‘creampie‘, if you’re interested): the converse ubiquity of ejaculation on faces and/or breasts (as far as possible from the vagina, note) and anal sex‘.

Male sexuality is a very simple thing. We find an opening; we insert; we thrust unto orgasm. That’s pretty much the definition of male. Which is not to say we’re not capable of more, or different, simply that this underlies more and different: fires it, motivates it. We simply have to choose better: to choose ways of expressing our sexuality that are less damaging; or not damaging at all.We need to reject the – currently trending – mode of liberalism that promotes ‘anything goes’; that damages both our bodies and our partners’ bodies; our minds and theirs.

Please share this post, or the above article. When we’re hurting others, and diminishing ourselves just to feel/be ‘normal something’s gone badly awry.

We need to choose better, because we can…

Anthropomorphukupzthanyoucanshakealadystickat

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What my cat taught me about gender… (from medium.com)

Little if anything, it seems… Hee hee.

‘Lolita, my 16 year-old female cat, emerged from her kitty litter box with a penis.’ On the basis of which you assign her male?

Your cat has a penis ∴ your cat is male. ARRGH! Fucking bigot! How do you know this? Have you not stopped to entertain the possibility that this is the fabled lady-penis? Later in your article you clain to have learned that ‘…gender (is) experienced from within — it’s not something you can (or should) identify from the outside…’ And surely you’re aware most MtF trans folks have intact male genitals? Party line says this is a class issue, that the surgery is prohibitively expensive for most. It is a class issue as it happens; more in the sense that the penis is both symbol and instrument of class oppression (and more fun than a stress ball to knead in times of dysphoria, boredom, horniness…).

Hell, you even go on to say ‘Mr. Lolita, as far as we know, doesn’t have a gender identity. He just has a sex: male.’ As far as you know? You’ve not bothered to take evening classes in cat tongue that you might be able to have the conversation? He/She/Zie/Hir/Miaow might identify as a dog, a wombat or a Russian space station for all you know! Good Lord!

‘Others that met Lolita, would use words like “diva” and “bitch” to describe his personality (“bitch” seems harsh, but he could get a bit hissy with strangers; especially female strangers, if that means anything)…’

Yep, it means they’re (and you’re) sexist. Cos only females get ‘hissy’ with females, right? Never males, no Siree. Male divas? What a ridiculous idea. Jeremy Clarkson, Rob Downey Jr and the drum tutor in Whiplash would be falling over themselves to be the first to scoff at such a suggestion. And you realise a bitch is a female DOG, right? How d’you think Lolita feels about being mis-specied? (assuming that he/she/zie/hir/Lord/Lady/Dr/Pope/Emperor does in fact identify as a cat; and let’s not even get started on race: looks kinda like a long-haired Burmese, but that doesn’t mean a thing: might be thinking in Siamese or Sphynx). How damned inconsiderate of his former owners not to dye his fur blue and teach him to carry an identity card…

And you don’t own him. He owns you. If you’d taken that evening class you’d understand ‘Fuck you! Just feed me! And none of that fucking Iams sawdust! No? Iams it is. Another fucking eviscerated, half-dead mouse on your pillow tomorrow morning, sonny boy.’ when you heard it.

And ‘Lolita‘. Lolita?! ‘Nuff said.

Oh, and the barista thing…

‘…Not only was this formerly female classmate of mine now a male, but — by all appearances — he was a gay male working at a gay coffee shop. (I would later see him out with other gay male friends at a gay bar.)…’ So you assumed he was gay because he appeared gay. Like you assumed your cat was female cos ‘her‘ name was ‘princess‘; and now assume he’s male cos he has a penis? Sheesh! Aand a gay coffee shop? WTF does that even mean? That they only serve super-skinny caramel lattes with rainbow sprinkles? Be sure to wipe the seat before you sit down, then; wouldn’t want you to catch anything nasty, now.

And you know, ‘formerly female’ but now a male? Either he was always male (wrong body yada yada, unlike the 99% of cis-sy folks who just love their perfect physiques) or is still (biologically) female but has busted out of the prison of ‘assignment’ in a cloud of rainbow-coloured confetti) and now identifies as male. Even the most batshit crazy MRA transjacktivist types seem to grasp that a person can’t actually change sex. Though to be fair, any kind of concensus amongst professionals and lobbyists looks to be a ways off.

You got one thing right, though; about gender and sexuality being socially constructed. Who knew?

Close, but no (Have A) Cigar

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This is my first encounter with Andy Jackson as a musical artist in his own right, though I’m previously familiar with his work as sound engineer with latterday Pink Floyd and on one of my favourite albums of all time, Fields of the Nephilim’s Elizium. As recordist and de-facto sound designer on the latter, he realised the – progressive – potential of a band whose originality and seriousness of purpose is too often sidelined beside ‘Goth’ clichés revolving around liberal application of flour and swathes of dry ice. Frankly, it’s a fuckin’ masterpiece.

Signal To Noise isn’t that. It’s very much of a piece with Jackson‘s work with latterday Floyd and, to an extent, Fields of the Nephilim, albeit significantly different to either.

Jackson plays all the instruments and sings. His vocal style perhaps most resembles Richard Wright when he takes the lead on Floyd cuts such as Wearing The Inside Out (from The Division Bell) and the latter’s solo album Broken China. Musically, he’s more than competent – sometimes very good. What’s missing is the character, the yearning, tortured depth of a Gilmour or a McCoy.

Much like The Verve‘s Richard Ashcroft, or Johnny Marr, one is left with the impression that his best work is to be found within collaborations – his real skill, with due respect to his day job, is embellishing (or teasing the best from) the ideas of others. STN is good – a propulsive, atmospheric, reverb-drenched thrum that draws the listener in – but it’s not great. What it shares with TER – in contrast to Elizium – is it’s unrelenting, mid paced, monochrome tone. Sure, there are ebbs ond flows; but no gnarls: nothing explosive or grating, such as …At The Gates of Silent Memory… or Submission to shock us out of easy-listening torpor.

There’s surely an element of pastiche/homage which, whilst it perhaps suffers by comparison to the best of Floyd‘s work, acquits itself somewhat favourably next to the warmed-over ramblings of The Endless River. That Jackson conceived these tracks as songs rather than mere instrumental atmospheres is the key factor here. There is a focus that TER lacks, and his voice is possessed of a certain grit that neither Gilmour nor Wright can (could) manage.

As much as I enjoy the album I can’t but help feel that a certain something is missing, if only by a hair.

But therein lies the separation between talent and genius…

 

 

 

Ali Bee: “New World’s Dawning”

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Ha ha! Oh no that’s awful – kill her!! Ha ha!!! Damn, am I allowed to laugh at this? Kaveney, please give me a sign…

Bllleurrrghthhmmmthgrrtg. My brain just melted, please find me a soft cell (with others who share my gender identity, of course)…

GenderTrender

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Pop shots Fader

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Why is pop still so scared of the vagina?

Why indeed?

And it’s not just pop per-se: popular cultural morés in general often present as being at odds with female biology even whilst commodifying (female) sexuality embodied therein…

e.g.

Pornographic representation of in-vaginal ejaculation is so novel it occupies its own, minority-interest ‘kink’ category (‘creampie‘, if you’re interested): the converse ubiquity of ejaculation on faces and/or breasts (as far as possible from the vagina, note) and anal sex.

Public breast-feeding remains a matter of consternation and misunderstanding, despite those practicing it having ‘enjoyed’ http://www.maternityaction.org.uk/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/breastfeedingpublicplace.pdf since 2010; restrictions on its portrayal via social media. Showing breasts is only a (moral, if not actually legal) crime it seems, when they’re actually functioning as breasts; rather than as a sexual fetish.

The increasingly visible recourse to accusations/diagnoses of Transphobia/Cissexism within public discourse, with the tacit purpose of disabling such discourse: embodying the increasingly-fashionable Post-Modern notion that female-ness is a psychosexual ‘identity’ divorced from reproductive biology, and that any suggestion to the contrary is offensive, albeit to a small minority.

The longstanding trend towards employing girls/women with ‘masculine’ (i.e. tall, lean, not-so-curvy) physiques as models in fashion.

What is it ‘we’ don’t want to see? You’d think femaleness were a terrible thing indeed, that we might be blinded by the light of it. ‘This little wound women have… it frightens me.’ spoke the artist-seducer Reynolds in Anaïs Nin’s A Model’ . Seems it frightens a lot of people. Maybe it should?

From The Fader article:

‘Why is pop scared of pregnancy? Aside from the fact that women are so often presented as objects not subjects available for consumption in their own music videos—an illusion that’s broken by the sight of a pregnant bump—perhaps it’s something to do with that old nightmare of “having it all.” Ever since the sexual revolution of the ’60s and ’70s—when sexual morals shifted, independence celebrated, and more women began to enter the workplace—women have been split into workers and nurturers.’

Having it all‘ is a phrase once often deployed to knock down women who dared to step outside of their male-prescribed, supposed limitations, especially if they performed too well. Overt, incontestible evidence of female reproductive power is an affront to those of us who claim to have the red telephone to woman-central at our fingertips. Whilst some of us non-females show aptitude as both workers and nurturers, there’s still that one thing we can’t do. And it’s no coincidence that artists such as Cherry and Björk who unashamedly bare – and revel in – their femaleness are also high-achieving and indisputably icons. Bjrk writes of

‘”(the) “biological” process of heartbreak: “the wound and the healing of the wound.” But, let’s be real: it also looks like a vagina! Which is, of course, the anatomical source of the family unit that she mourns on “Family,” following the breakdown of her relationship. Where do I go to make an offering, she sings, To mourn our miraculous triangle: father, mother, child.'”

(Which the Po-Mo set might seize on as homophobic, unjustly: even Elton in full indignance is grounded enough to realize he can’t have his kids without female participation. There’s good reason to interrogate the wisdom of IVF and other ‘reproductive technologies’ but that’s a debate for another day.)

She knows.

When Marillion‘s Steve Hogarth wrote the words for The Wound he was in the same metaphorical space, I think; albeit from a necessarily incomplete, male perspective:

Finally, here’s a good – and apposite – one from the vault: