Tuesday, March 11, 2008

interview with Alan Rankine, Resonance FM Tuesday 11 March 2008

Personally I had never heard of Resonance FM and probably never would have had it not been for a message on the Associates list that I belong to telling of an interview with the great Alan Rankine! Resonance FM itself appears to be one of those strange arty type things that Bourdieu would have a field day with because god only knows who it caters for. When I dutifully turned on at 7.45 just prior to Alan Rankine's interview at 8pm I was greeted with the sound of wolves howling and then some guy joined in with them on the guitar. Apparently he records his songs live with the animals around him. It was surreal but I could not help but think what it would have sounded like if Billy Mackenzie had ever done a duet with his whippets in tow! Whilst the interview with Alan Rankine was far less surreal, it was great to have the Associates' history from the man himself. Probably having nothing to lose, Alan seemed to have a refreshing honesty - lots of people in the Associates career history were 'shits' and talked about their drug taking without managing to glorify it in any shape or form, unless panic attacks in hospital are appealing! I guess if you are used to Heat magazine revelations there will be nothing new here but not having tracked down a copy of Tom Doyle's book, or sure that I want to, it was interesting to hear the band's trajectory from low budget cabaret stars, to naive young men agog in the brutal English capital full of shifty record company types, beating them at their own game only to freeze at the moment of stardom and reach a point of no return. Although heavy on the history there were enough quirky personal details to bring to life the relationship that the two men must have shared (along with Michael Dempsey and John Murphy who were treated at least by Alan and Billy as members of the Associates) having no money, experimenting at weird times of night, looking for kindred spirits who shared their sense of music and mischief. It is not surprising the pressure got to them and sometimes it seems difficult to enjoy the intensity of Sulk because it signals the beginning of the end. Poignant also to hear Alan Rankine speak of Billy Mackenzie's suicide, but also with warmth from his memories of a man who spent many hours perfecting his appearance before going out but who was also happy to muck out his whippets and be covered in dog shit. And therein lies the surreal world of the Associates of which we can only have tiny glimpses but it helps to flesh out the question when listening to Sulk etc, 'who would have the balls to make this?'

Sunday, March 09, 2008

beat pyramid - these new puritans

ALBUM pulls me back in
to present times with its irresis-
table meld of intense beats, shouty voc
als and obsession with numbers a theme whi
ch ties this relatively short collection together. It g
oes or even harks back to when bands announced their
modus operendi in no uncertain terms to fuck with the min
ds of their unexpecting public - here for instance despite the ap
parent volume of songs the bulk is killer tunes with the odd filler. but
it does not suffer for it when the actual contents are so compelling. 'Num
erology (aka numbers)' marries a catchy riff with an interesting question that
is actually answered (hooray, how many songs bug you with their unanswered q
uestions?). Although tied to the new wave heritage I hear shades of rap here, even
hot chip in the wobbly synths and young tremble / cocksure certainty of the singer's vo
ice which takes the mash up further than a mere exercise in 'how many indie bands can you
name.' 'Swords of truth' possibly even references Star Wars ('strike me down') but we'll not hold
that against them, neither that they have already become so achingly trendy that they have been as
ked to provide aural backdrop for a fashion show - instead just enjoy the twitchy sound of 'swords of
truth' and '£4' which runs the bizarre lyric by you repeatedly 'four of your pounds' until it seems quite nor
mal and enjoy the fact that they can create musical soundscapes far better than I can create a pyramid of words (because blogger won't let me)