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A Few Short Words

Dense Not Thick

Author

Nic

Nic Addenbrooke is a freelance writer, editor, content creator, radio broadcaster, part-time poet and sometimes artist. Nic has been coming to terms with existence for years. He currently lives and works in Brisbane where he struggles to turn the cacophony of voices in his head into things of substance. It doesn’t always work but occasionally produces a nice veneer of sanity.

Little Simz: Grey Area

Article originally appeared on The Music 28-Feb-2019

UK rapper Little Simz has spent her career building a reputation for fleet-footed lyricism layered over thrumming beats and conceptual leanings that flirt heavily with the surreal. But after diving into the otherworldly oddities of Stillness In Wonderland, and grappling with the weight of self-made success, Simz has decided to explore the grittier side of her own life’s Grey Area.

Weaving soul rhythms with lo-fi leanings so that a jazz flute can somehow thrive alongside bass that could burn a discotheque, Little Simz’ latest is immediately enthralling. Produced entirely by Inflo, Grey Area has the authenticity of a garage auteur and the feel of a seasoned studio master. Going into the recording with little pre-made material, Simz embraces a sense of therapeutic freeness that brings the tracks to some dark and brutally honest places, yet her swift lyrical delivery means nothing gets bogged in reflective territory. The whole album is relentlessly deft and punches harder than a prizefighter fending off personal demons.

Grey Area is intense, inventive, and earnest, a rare rap album where bluster gives way to bluntness and bravado isn’t bragging but actually brave. Little Simz deserves her self-proclaimed place among the greats.

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Provision

Rachel pops out of her seat like a jack in the box and strides towards the door. All I want is to eat cookies in your company, I tell her, be sweet, like. She keeps walking. I can’t see her eyes but I imagine them rolling. ‘You know,’ she says, ‘it wouldn’t hurt you to be a little more masculine.’ I’m pretty sure she means less nice in a considerate way. I say, I can change, and she pauses in the doorway. It could be muffins. ‘It could be dicks,’ she says, and leaves me alone with her hatred.

Hazard

I look beyond the balcony to the storm clouds floating harmlessly over the horizon and think about cutting myself. ‘It doesn’t matter,’ Sarah says, ‘we choose our leaders and we should pay them accordingly — in money and respect.’ The group moves its head discordantly, nods and shakes and partly gaping mouths full with words there’s no room to utter, opinions stuck between their teeth. I think, someone says, but Sarah shushes sharply so the statement sits stillborn on the floor. ‘You don’t know, though,’ she says, ‘because you don’t listen.’ I look to the storm, longing for a change.

Counterpoint

Cynicism and Hope were entwined. They’d just made love. Cynicism lay a hand upon Hope’s breastplate, feeling the delicate web of nerve and bone that cage a heart. Each placid thump sent a wave of terrifying euphoria up Cynicism’s arm, pumping not blood but life through strange osmotic channels. I don’t want to hurt you, Cynicism said. Hope lay a hand to Cynicism’s cheek, grounding a circuit that fed warmth and light to each of them. ‘You could never hurt me,’ Hope said, ‘even with pain.’ They saw each other as though seeing themselves and said, ‘I need you.’

Ego

There’s no such thing as villains or heroes. Life homogenises us all, the best you can hope for is digital folklore, to become a prize that supersedes your self, otherwise — outside that internal — all that’s prepared to see is a measure of awareness, the stark mind put against social scale. What do you weigh when you wear the world on your shoulder or stand astride it? The same worth, I’d bet, as any scion or scoundrel. We are the same, you and me and them, isolation and extrusion, thought and deed, writer and reader, we are every single I.

Aspect

At some point in the night she finds a frown and pulls it over her face. It doesn’t sit right in sleep. Lain like that, with her arms above her head and her breasts exposed in Venus pose, the scowl seems a Janus dream. There are lies the mind won’t tell the body, they simmer in subconscious and tic away. Her expression is a pocket of this fight, gloriously honest and more marvellous for its telling presence than the supine splendour of her body and its beauty rendered limp. How I long to kiss her there, beyond the veil.

Elucidation

I press on the bruise, trying to make hurt again. I do it all the time, worry at old wounds in an effort to evocate their peaks. Nothing’s ever the same though, not even pain. I feel like an artist rendering ruins in digital 3D, disastrously flat extrapolations despite the ability. I could fill a gallery with these abstractions, obtruded into seperate wings with woeful didactics strung as diegeses for each — heartbreak half-formed; scars smoothed over time; anguish in relief; negative space — all would be incompetent. The pains of expression are so acute I’m desperate to sketch them.

Tiny Ruins: Olympic Girls

Article originally appeared on The Music 31st Jan 2019

Touring the world with names like Fleet Foxes, Beach House and Calexico, while featuring a line-up that shifts more than the tectonic plates under her New Zealand homeland, Hollie Fullbrook has built a solid base for herself out of Tiny Ruins. The latest album, Olympic Girls, is full of the finger-plucked guitar, homely metaphor, and low-key lyrical delivery that Fullbrook is known for.

Compared to the full-on three weeks it took to record Brightly Painted One, Tiny Ruins’ third record Olympic Girls was drawn over a full year and, while that fact can be seen in the polished production, it feels as though this additional time led to each track being forgotten before she recorded the next – on a cursory listen, there’s little to distinguish them. 

Fullbrook’s vocals are beautiful and full, blooming out over the instrumentation in an encompassing way that feels oddly devoid of emotion despite the wistful sombreness of the lyrics. The overall effect is a little too perfect, like a rock wall that’s been filled with resin and buffed smooth – getting a handhold is all but impossible.

Olympic Girls is a tender feat of musicianship that politely asks you to listen rather than begging to be heard.

Agony

She catches my smile upon her face and lets it melt without movement. ‘You make me sad,’ she says. ‘Not for you but because of you.’ She takes me into her eyes and blinks slowly. ‘Your misery is contagious,’ she says, shuttered. ‘It’s an infection.’ We breathe in turns and the air grows thick and warm. ‘It will kill love,’ she says. ‘It will spread its tendrils into my affection and strangle it dead.’ I will find a cure, I tell her, I can be well. ‘I know that’s true,’ she says, ‘but I’m not sure that you do.’

Caprice

Smiling like someone successfully baking cakes, Dr. Bronte says, ‘You should be relieved, it’s so rare to see such clear diagnoses.’ Neither psychosis nor neuroses, it doesn’t feel clear. Borderline, split like a blackjack bet — two suits, same value, no clear winner. Where does that leave me? ‘We can treat it, of course. Though, I worry they won’t take you since you aren’t hurting yourself.’ I think she means physically. I finger my scars. Should I restart? Would that help me get help? ‘Don’t act rashly now.’ But that’s my problem, impulse control and the point where logic lies.

Craven

I put the cask on the counter and the clerk says nothing. I’m making punch, my anxiety says, sangria. The clerk doesn’t care, simply pronounces the price while I collate the cost. I offer thanks and get paid with a nod that haunts me out the door, down the street, and into my first glass. I can hear the ice cracking against the suburban stillness. My thirst never makes a sound. By my last I’m no longer dry and ready to drown. I nod at the walls. It’s a punch, I tell them, but you can’t see the bruise.

Fantasy

The cold realities have started seeping in and scare me more than the nightmares ever did. I see her now, looking sometimes at the mask hung in the closet and wondering if she didn’t like me better that way. ‘Do you have to be sad?’ Syllables soft and sharp. ‘Can’t you just… can’t you be happy?’ I tell her it’s not about joy or despair but honesty measured empirically, I won’t hide anymore. We go to sleep with the monster under the bed half discussed and wake in fragmentation. I tell her I’m trying and she nods, ‘I know.’

Anaemic

I’m not cold until she goes, then my heart slows, the blood I’d grown used to gushing pumps a flaccid pace. I leave the lights out and wrap the dark around my skin in honorific absence, telling the night that light has left with her. Outside, the clouds muster, obscuring the stars and severing our celestial connection. Muddied by the river’s black eddy, the city’s busy sheen gloats with life. The wind whips past me on its way to the horizon and leaves me frigid in its passing. I’m not cold until she goes, then I burn with longing.

Lucidity

I woke up moaning in despair, separated from you by inches, infinite neurons, and the wilds of sleep. I’d dreamt I was a cuckoo’s cuckold. Another shape moved in my place to drink my fill of you. I begged, pleaded, and performed the menial while your love for me evaporated. ‘Don’t do this,’ you said, regret and contempt so vivid and visceral it tore the dreams from my head. Brutally aware of mixed realities, I lay in the dark listening to the night birds sing the world awake, weeping for myself and a life that is and never was.

Adoration

Everybody always asks after Arris. Not a soul seems to go unimpressed in her presence. Even my parents call to ask after her now, saying, so charming—what an absolute pleasure. They all think she’s the best thing about me. It makes me want to want to argue sometimes but they’re probably right, and honestly, what a delight to be on this side of that. Knowing their subject objectifies me is a solipsistic bliss. Still, as much as I love her love, I do find I side with the world, it’s in my devotion to her that I’m happiest.

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