I grab my towel before turning off the shower and make fully one sweep before realising I’m not dry. There’ve been a lot of these off key incidents lately, miniature self-sabotages that must surely be a result of absent mindedness if not just metaphysically pimpled manifestations of a clenched inner discord. Clumsy volcanos erupting in stubbed toes and throes of heroic social misconduct through semiotic mistranslation. The whole thing reeks of a vaudeville vortex with no comedic payoff. So I turn off the shower and shiver, waiting for the air to dry me like some kind of jerky.
Six stories up in the middle of the night there’s an owl in my house. ‘It’s actually a frogmouth,’ Arris says, ‘tawny.’ Sat at the head of the dining table, still as old growth in variegated shades of eucalypt bark. It stares at us with deep amber jewels, calculating our worth from its strange stoic perch. A partner waits from the balcony, on guard for prospects and threats. ‘They mate for life,’ I hear. Arris takes my hand and we breathe in the night together. I want this to be good luck, I tell her, reading signs of life.
I went to an art gallery today. I rode under two bridges on a graffiti camouflaged ferry to get there. I saw an island of monuments, built for art and half sunk in the ground. Concrete slabs and improbable grasses jutting into modernist glasses. Floor to ceiling oils draped on cavern walls where soft curatorial faces in corners peer eagerly between branded tee shirts and headsets. Nude photography and raw sculpture; ropes that represented shackles and a noose that was; girded metals and unfettered expression. I was told I’d see art today in situ, but I didn’t see you.
Article originally appeared on The Music 18 March 2019
Dissonant, diffident, euphonic, euphoric and mildly infuriating all at the same time, Pikelet has been unclassifiable but hugely successful since the release of debut record Pikelet in 2007. Still, since the project’s progenitor Evelyn Ida Morris’ self-titled album last year, it seems like time to say Goodbye to the moniker.
Maybe moreso than ever, Goodbye is very much a Pikelet album, literally its final form. Winsome and vaguely choral vocals, found sounds, and made noise mixed with layered loops all cascade together into an incomparable harmonic maelstrom. Numerous small moments that highlight Morris’ ingenuity, ability and breadth — a subtle ’60s refrain, cascading drum scale or guttural piece of bass funk — are bracing, and make you wonder what Pikelet might have sounded like if they’d hewn to genre or sonic convention, but then the actual effect is so captivating that normalcy wouldn’t be good enough anyway.
The six tracks on Goodbye feel almost exasperated, the sort of farewell you might throw out when walking away from an argument. It’s the sound of a door slamming, both cathartic and shocking. This is a delicious end to Pikelet, though hopefully not the last we’ll hear from Evelyn Ida Morris
Arris puts her device down and looks at me. ‘Do you miss how we were in the beginning?’ I pause my game and hold her hand. We always will be what we were, I tell her. She shapes a doubtful sound in the back of her throat. ‘But don’t you miss the excitement? That new frisson feeling?’ I catch her eye and ask, Do you think the butterfly misses the caterpillar? Maybe the energy is different, but it was poured into forces necessary for flight. The excitement has changed, I say, but every day with you makes me soar.
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.