Monday, 23 April 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #149 - Richard James, "Pictures in the Morning"

There's been a lot of apocalyptic stuff passing through my ears of late; it's time I went with a gentle set of fingers plucking at and brushing against some strings.

Richard James was in Gorkys Zygotic Mynci. He almost has the same name as Aphex Twin, which causes me a little of twitch of confusion when I hear his name, even now. And he's very much about the soothing sounds. Soothing to dissolve the pains of a failed relationship, the scene set firmly by "All Gone" - no more accompanying heartbeats in the morning bed. Maybe that's the title too: mornings being hardest when you wake next to an absence and you're surrounded by cold sheets.

"Sun Ease Pain" begins in a very Nick Drake manner, sounding especially like "The Cello Song" introduction. (A piece I know especially well as it was chopped up and looped for a Hammers song back in the day when there wasn't even any Hammers, just CocOen & Loopol.) It starts out sunny, but definite stormy fronts move in towards the end before it all calms down again. Very Welsh weather music. Dark, gloomy feelings waiting for the sun to warm them away. Easy to bullshit about national origins and the flavours they infuse into individual expressions, eh? Paid a malu cachu, Coc.

"Do You Know the Way to My Heart?" has a weird pronunciation of the title that sounds a bit like "Do you Know the Way to Mordor?" It's sweet without being cute; but it lacks a little electricity. And I don't just mean amplification. I like my troubadours to have a crackle of unpredictability, of new angles. This is doing an expert job of painting the same gateposts as previous nice men with guitars and fingers. The next tune is called "Down to My Heart", resting on elemental metaphors of water and wind and sadness. I shouldn't want more, but I do. Talk of hearts is very difficult to pull off impressively in my book. "Baby Blue" is squarer on the money, and supplies the album title. Probably my favourite track - restless, uncomfortable but still generous.

Things are more upbeat musically on "Magical Day". He's looking for some fun, looking for it in a woman, which was a mistake - even though he has "love to burn, yeah". The bluesy loner again? Jack White has inveigled his way back in. It's actually about positivity of seeing an ex out and about and seeking "new love to heal the pain" but with a sense of optimism. I suppose it's aspect of small town life, seeing the same faces ad having them tug your heart into the past.

"Rolling Down" is back to the water metaphors and back with lost love. "Don't waste your time/It's in her eyes/It's in her lies, my friend." Followed by "Yes My Love Died", it doesn't augur well for Richard's lovelife. "Yes, my love died 'cos I killed my heart of you." Now, there's more of a crackle. And so it fades away, repeating its sad lyric into sad, shadowy Hades. Until they come back from the Underworld to finish up properly and my heart rises up back a little.

And I really like the extended gaps of reaching and moving and just making tiny noises between most tracks. Puts me in the room.

Rating: Lovelorn out of Small Town

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