Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Latest Find(s)

Today the opposite of tomato is 'the shape of home-baked bread'

graphite & putty eraser, with watercolour/30x20cm

The latest drawing to be processed from the gift-that-keeps-giving source of found 'roadkill' aluminium cans, the branded livery of this particular instance again inviting its representation with a touch of watercolour.


Jesca Hoop ‘Hunting My Dress’
Elliott Smith ‘Roman Candle’ & ‘Elliott Smith’
Mark Mulcahy ‘Fathering’
Geraldine Fibbers ‘Hut Recordings’

An accompanying musical soundtrack that once again bears evidence of the continuing trawl of/re-acquaintance with the selectively-recovered cassette collection, the otherwise unavailable highlights of which are now in the process of being converted to digital form via a most useful & easy-to-use piece of kit (as simple as a point-to-point lead & a software programme) acquired from, which, thus far tested, seems to do a fine job.

As a consequence of this, & of course following-on the initial recovery of the source cassettes themselves, it’s been pleasant & inspiring to be able to enjoy once again not least the quietly-burning & smouldering intensity of Elliott Smith's 'Roman Candle'.
Being the first of the artist's recordings released under his own name, it established his aesthetic template, even through its lo-fi sound quality (itself ‘enhanced’ yet further via the medium of cassette), of deceptively unassuming, downbeat songs, frequently laced with a sharp lyrical bite, decorated with delightful, beguiling melodies, with echoes of The Beatles & Nirvana (I’ve always felt that ‘The Ballad of Big Nothing’ was the most sublime conflation of the sound of the two, at least if one considers mid-period, ‘Rubber Soul’-era Beatles as a point of reference).
These simple formal means endured unchanged, being refined through the following two albums, the self-titled second & ‘Either/Or', before being expanded upon subsequently, with the sometimes incorporation of more complex arrangements of a comparatively baroque nature, but ‘Roman Candle’ remains a compelling introduction to Elliott Smith’s oeuvre, stripped down, distilled to absolute essentials. It’s a fascinating listen, which, by necessity has to be a close one to the subdued, concentrated acoustic tone, which then erupts with glorious abandon in the tension-releasing torrent of electric guitar upon which 'Last Call' is constructed.

Good, too, to invest in & acquire a hard copy of ‘Fathering’, which is another of those drawing-friendly, idiosyncratically lovely experiences that rewards attentive listening, a sequence of fine, compelling songs & intriguing narratives.

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