The Church Of Me
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Kissing in the churchyard, I know a righteous woman

Thursday, September 05, 2002
MISERY MUSIC

Yes I know, the Church should be more cheerful. But in a solitary life, this is what one is driven to.

What to make of My Computer? They are two chaps from Manchester with a past history on Creation Records as a guitar band - I think they were called One Lady Owner, or possibly Ten Days Off. But what matters is what they are now.

Their first album is called Vulnerabilia (this really should have been the title of the first Soft Cell album) and I cannot quite figure out where I stand on it yet, which usually turns out to be a good thing. Certainly the first track "All I Ever Wanted Was A Good Time" takes almost ten minutes to explore the various corridors which My Computer have placed within their remit. Within it you will hear bitter, hateful and sorrowful lyrics, mostly amiably crooned in and buried under a vocoder, against a soft Air/Royskopp backdrop with some beats haflway through. This is quite astonishing to listen to, at least until the final 60 seconds when the voice is suddenly stripped of the vocoder and we hear - well, another Jeff Buckley wannabe with a guitar of Convenience. Is someone finally taking up the challenge of Tiger Bay?

Well I would love to have told you that. The problem is that they spend the rest of the album wandering the same corridors. For much of the time the music sounds like Muse with beats and string lines mixed in rather randomly. At other times you feel that they might be developing something new - the way in which the Underworld-style rave-up of "Majic Flat" suddenly decelerates into an acoustic lament, the way in which an Altern 8-type old skool barndance wanders into the midst of "For Something Else" apropos of not much at all. The way in which "I Don't Care How You Treat Me" mixes drum-and-bass with John Barry harpsichordal poignancy and doesn't make it sound the dull cliche it reads like (did you SEE that Observer review of Barry Adamson's King of Nothing Hill last Sunday where the reviewer wheels out the comparison "a combination of John Barry, Curtis Mayfield and Sly Stone" as if he still felt that this was anything but a complete turn-off?).

Lyrically it occupies the cynosure of a triangle bordered by Rob Dougan, Ms Dynamite and the Polyphonic Spree. Or, "I can't go on. I go on" (for the lyrics, go to www.vulnerabilia.com/lyrics_frame.html).

So it's a bit of a mess. But I keep playing it. And I'm rather moved by it. Isn't that what matters? Not where it came from, not how many other people have done it in the past - what does THIS piece of art do to YOU right NOW? And does that negate criticism?

The end of Vulnerabilia sounds like death.

Mortes, the new album by Fernando Corona, aka Murcof, is the music which might be heard after death. 51 stately minutes which I used to soundtrack HBO's In Memoriam 9/11 documentary last night. Unhurried yet deeply lamenting; odd violin drones, one single instance of a human voice, glitches and seraphic edits which might recall Akufen's radio snippets wound back and replayed at 16 rpm. It is essentially one long track divided into eight, with some animation from track five onwards, but strangely calming.

Yes, it's summer. Yes I should be out there grooving on down to Hustle! Reggae Disco. I would be a better person if I could. Does anyone out there wish to join me?


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