Friday, August 17, 2012

Celebrating new music with Roxy providing the soundtrack

Listened to Craig Brown on Desert Island Discs this morning - very engaging. And he chose Sea Breezes off the first Roxy album - so that is my soundtrack for this morning.

I've acquired some good music over the past month. First up is the d├ębut album by Alt-J (the keyboard short cut on a mac to create the delta sign, apparently). An Awesome Wave is a quirky mix of indie pop, plainsong, close harmony and African and Asian beats and instrumentation, with literary allusions aplenty in the lyrics. It all sounds a bit sixth form but when it all comes together, the results are sublime.

And after a long wait (17 years I reckon) the new Dead Can Dance album, Anastasis dropped into my in-box last Friday. It's worth the wait. DCD are described as world music - possibly because they hail from Australia and blend asian instruments with their electronic washes to create swirling, anthemic music rich with emotion. But whatever you label you attach to it, it's pretty lovely. While waiting for this new album, they have been releasing a series of live happening collections, downloadable for free from their website (worth checking out and collecting).

But neither album has a song that is as viscerally arresting as Virginia Plain was to a fifteen year old me when it was released as Roxy's first single in 1971/2. Not included on the first album, it did make it to the re-mastered CD. On top of the pops, Roxy were at first sight, just another glam rock combo, albeit more glam than most. But something set them apart: there was a darkness at the heart of their music, a mirror held up to the bleakness behind the glittery surface of the early 70s that resonated with me. And boy, could they play - Andy Mackay blew a mean sax, Phil Manzanera is one the best guitarists these shores have produced, and Brian Eno - what was he? what was he doing? Someone from a dimension none of us inhabited, bringing soundscapes from other, more exciting worlds than ours; even then he was making the waves that would sweep pop music to more interesting shores.

Well, as I'm discovering this morning, it still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up; I'm not sure why - maybe it just captured a mood still buried deep in my sub-conscious; maybe it's just fabulous, lush music, danceable with a rich vein of humour.

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