"That horrible Everett True music."
I've been on a bit of a crazed art trip recently. Not to say I've been enjoying proper art - the last time I went to a gallery was a few weeks ago - but music art. One of the many good things about the DIY explosion that's happened with the Internet is that it allows people to create art that actually goes alongside music, rather than design created by marketing departments. My love for These New Puritans, Wolf Eyes, Daniel Johnston and Jandek have been the impetus behind my own misguided attempts at 'making art'. And misguided really is the word for it: the fact that I don't have the fucking technology, or skill, to make anything meant that everything I made had to be destroyed. The second attempt was more successful, in the same way WWII was more successful than WWI: the body count was higher, making for a more successful Hollywood treatment later, with the Americans in charge.
But what has interested me the most has been The Finches (MySpace): after reading a review in last month's Plan B, I was intrigued by the fact that the singer, the marvellously-named Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs, does the artwork by hand. The fact that the album was loved by the ever-whimsical Everett True put me off it, though, and I investigated no further. But seeing the artwork on the back of this month's Plan B - yes, I am a groupie - made me change my mind. Lurking beneath my scarred, paint-splattered shell was, I suppose, a childhood love of anthropomorphism, of cuddly animals. The fact that it was made by woodcut, like the Eastern European folk art or art brut I love so much, made it seem even more special. This little picture simply broke my fucking heart.
In that last post on '1997', I mentioned a "genealogy" of that music; that wasn't precisely what I meant. It would be stupid to talk about exact ancestors to bands like Los Campesinos!, it's useless to talk about movements or even about history, but it's also useless to pretend that I'm approaching this music in completely virgin mode. I know about, I've heard bands like The Wave Pictures, Herman Dune, Silver Jews, The Chills, The Wedding Present, June Brides, The Bodines, etc., etc. If you want to talk about melancholic joy, these are the people to fucking talk about. And these were influenced by The Velvet Underground, Jonathan Richman/The Modern Lovers, The Slits, early Mekons... gah, what the fuck is the point in talking about history? It's dead and gone. This is here, this is now. This is all company to what we know, to what we feel and love: it's the sound of humanity, of memory and childhood and society and all those things I thought I could do without as a teenager. But even Sam Beckett felt it: have you ever read Malone Dies? It's one motherfucker of a sad, memorial novel. And The Finches are the equivalent of that passage where he describes watching the burning gorse bushes from his window as a child. I can see so many overlaps in art like this; it issues from a place all of us have: the last refuge of being, where we keep our myths and symbols; the place where we incubate faith; misery and joy coat and coagulate around the sum of our lives.
I'm not simply writing to accompany the MP3 at the top here. It's just to say.
P.S. The results of my ill-advised foray into artwork may appear on the Web soon. I honestly can't decide whether it would be worth it.