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A Few Short Words

Dense Not Thick

Portents

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.

Artistry

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. 

Pikelet: Goodbye

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

Transmutation

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. 

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.

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.

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