Strange times call for strange tunes. Here’s three recent releases and three ways to deal with reality at its most jagged: screaming into a pillow, singing a quiet song or kicking yourself and everyone around you a conscience.
Pharmakon – Transmission
I’m a sucker for noise records that feel like someone is screaming into a pillow and the pillow is you. No one can make you absorb a muffled cry like Pharmakon and I for one am looking forward to hearing her new album and watching her bang self-made instruments made from metal sheets and tangled wires against a vintage synthesizer in front of a confused and delighted audience real soon.
From ‘Contact’ – Out March 31
Intensely personal and brave, it’s hard to say anything about this piece of music written by Phil Elverum about losing his wife to cancer. Just listen. Even if you’re only able to listen once.
“Written and recorded August 31st to Dec. 6th, 2016 in the same room where Geneviève died, using mostly her instruments, her guitar, her bass, her pick, her amp, her old family accordion, writing the words on her paper, looking out the same window.”
Someone’s there and then they’re not
and it’s not for singing about.
It’s not for making into art.
When real death enters the house
all poetry is dumb.
When I walk in
to the room where you were
and look into
the emptiness instead
My knees fail.
My brain fails.
Crusted with tears, catatonic and raw, I go downstairs and outside and you still get mail.
A week after you died a package with your name on it came and inside was a gift for our daughter you had ordered in secret and collapsed there on the front steps I wailed.
A backpack for when she goes to school a couple years from now. You were thinking ahead to a future you must have known deep down would not include you though you clawed at the cliff you were sliding down, being swallowed into a silence that is bottomless and real.
and I don’t want to learn anything from this.
I love you.”
Kate Tempest – Europe is Lost (NSFW)
“Massacre. Massacre. Massacre. New shoes.”
When I first heard the latest Kate Tempest album “Let them Eat Chaos” I thought it was too devoid of hope, missing the fighting stance of her debut. Still amazing. But maybe not as amazing as I hoped it would be. But now, a few months later and a few rungs down the ladder of present day purgatory, some of its tracks seem almost prophetic. Or, to be more precise: this album feels like a reminder that we probably all saw this coming. Kate Tempest is a poet and does what good poets have done for thousands of years: write something that is both of the times, and above time. The video for “Europe is Lost” is a no-punches-pulled edit of archival images with creative direction by Harris Elliott.