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

Monday, March 13, 2006
SIGNS OF LIFE, AND SO ON: BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE

…and so, on the radio as I checked my email yesterday morning was “Silly Love Songs” by Wings, and indeed, what’s wrong with that, what’s wrong with being in love, in coexisting in a far from imaginary perfect state, where mutual trust and massages are cherished as tenderly as Port Meadow petals of old, and so Broken Social Scene, who may one day be my local band, and who I am now fully beginning to grasp can now be our band, in the way that the Cocteau Twins were our band for a different “our,” except this feels to me like membership of a new and better society, and of course Broken Social Scene are far from perfect, as the name itself attests, but also the remonstrative signifiers of “fuck me in the ass” in “It’s All Gonna Break” or “masturbation” in “Bandwitch,” but instead of accepting those, meekly or otherwise, BSS insist on building upon these could-be-stable-if-we-just-tried foundations, oh yes, and thus new monuments and neighbourhoods of song rise to stand proudly and take the place of emptiness and spite and death, so that eventually the entire planet can be refracted, can crouch fondly over that tender whispered corner of love and truth, and it’s in the whispers, isn’t it my love, those kissed interactions between female and male, that’s why we attend and why they sing “Find themselves a perfect woman and they still try to live,” and finally absolve their pasts in the percussive persuasion of “Woman keep on loving me” until the whole thing turns into Stereolab basking in a lake of 10cc with 1986 Prince as the lock keeper, and so whispers are voices are kisses, and that’s why we don’t differentiate, because the Magic Numbers are pretty magical really, the sort of people we all should be, I mean, “I See You, I See Me,” but BSS go that little vital bit further and dissolve barriers so that songs are floating, their membership floats, and “Windsurfing Nation” is an anthem for the aisle, really, that and “Wake Up,” oh God yes…

…and so, on a cloudy, nostalgic visit to East Dulwich on Saturday lunchtime, not quite the place I remember, but Dulwich still radiant, College and Common, Art Gallery and bookshops, and “Car Song” by Madder Rose goes through my head towards your heart, “I think about you all day long/Now try to get some sleep”…

…and so Broken Social Scene can be described, but that’s not really their point, so how to point out that theirs is the sun-blessed kiss of music I need to hear right now, maybe 1970 Soft Machine out of 1968 Free Design, trippy in the most (un)believeable (but it’s happening!) way, such that “Our Faces Split The Coast In Half” announces itself with hazy gauze of acoustic guitar, trombones and Association/Associates harmonies waking up from something, recognising the existence of each other, inventing methods of communication, as though it’s the first music that’s ever been played, and then seadrums of waves hurl it into another evolutionary dimension but then it resumes its former grace, now wiser, and so…

…I think of the noble and fragile flutes of Prefuse 73’s “Afternoon Love In,” the soundtrack to a 2001 summer that never was, and now the invitation to a 2006 summer that is just about to be…

…and so, as Broken Social Scene don’t believe in thrusting their words upon listeners, you have to grasp the elements which you can determine in them, so “7/4 (Shoreline)” tells us that “It’s a cruel world” but the harmonies are so delicate yet exultant that you notice the urging “I’m trying to get through” as the track toughens, then recedes into an eyeglass of distance (though its intensity is not reduced) but then returns with a brass cavalry, and that sly little misplaced semi-beat from the drums right at the end is like a wink from God…

…and oh God, how keenly did I feel you beside me on the King’s Road on Saturday morning…

…and so, the difference between BSS and Ariel Pink is that BSS can do an explicit tribute to Pavement and not seem like smartarses with nothing to add, and while Mr Pink isn’t quite that, not yet anyway, that little bit on “West Coast Calamities” where he smirks about doing a Skip Spence kind of thing, and how the hell would Ariel Pink know about true madness, and where it begins and doesn’t end, and you realise his is yet another career madness, which is maybe why the most satisfactory Ariel Pink record I know is “Pedestrian Pop Hits,” a 16-minute one-track EP of something between Acid House (Phuture) and post-rock (an imagined 1992 which wasn’t Slanted And Enchanted?), mainly because it’s purely instrumental, but then BSS haven’t forgotten the de-demonised Sonic Youth elements of early Pavement when they sing of “(A Better Day)” – though I think there’s a lot more of the Wedding Present to early Pavement than nearly anyone cares to admit – and their voices leak ecstasy even if they are not yet quite perceptible, but still the important bits stand out like blooming stalks: “You said I was never coming back!” and “Heal us”…

…and so, Broken Social Scene can I believe heal people, not in a blandish Cliff Richard/Polyphonic Spree kind of way, but in getting that uneasy balance between delicacy and experimentation as right as anyone could manage in 2006 – and remember, weren’t Scritti at their best always about kissing a tightrope of delicacy and experimentation, and that’s the connecting factor, because the politics will then become naturally manifest, as opposed to glued on like a jammed Better Badge? – and because…

…so right is K-Os’ rapping contribution to “Windsurfing Nation” which just kind of appears like a surprise glimpse of purple in the lovely rhythm which arises out of the radio static, the beat is like two knitting needles kissing in supreme consummation, and those yelps Feist keeps yelping out, “Ha ha! Come on! A-ha!” and this is the kind of anthem everyone needs…

…and for supposed laxity, and why not, in arranging terms, why are the vocals on BSS poised so accurately – the half-tempo voices over the fast rhythm on “Fire Eye’d Boy” are exactly what that song needs, balanced purely by that ominous-ish ‘cello – and someone says the Pixies…

…and so, “Swimmers” is our “Gigantic,” the discourse between the spoken/thought (“I was”) and sung/expressed (“Waiting for you!”) dissolving like so much used lighter fluid. I hear “standing around,” “getting older,” “going down,” but the woman’s sustenato on the “ing” of that crucial “waiting” betrays to you that they will defy these death sentences, not by screaming, but with those other harmonies which now gently creep into the landscape – “I wanna be with you all the time,” oh yes, and “If you always get up late, you’re never gonna be on time” and…

…and so, isn’t “Hotel” the kind of record the Stones should now be making, that mournful bass set against the Stax horns and those whispered falsettos and growls again, oh God this is what Jagger should be sounding like in 2006, and its shady nooks make me tingle like your vowels make me tingle, and “Calm is a word that I dream about,” indeed…

…and so “Superconnected” is a bandwidth (bandwitch?) upgrade of Stereolab’s “Super-Electric,” and that climactic squeal of guitar, oh God it’s nearly a Proper Rock Song, but that lovely little coda at the end between guitar and drums which resembles John Fahey jamming with Pharaoh Sanders in yet another (con)version of 1968…

…and so “I COULD MOVE TOWN” suggests “Major Label Debut,” with its solitary pizzicato ‘cello, echoing timpani and consequent elegant string section arc, “TRANSLATION MEANS: I LOVE YOU,” and this is all I want to hear at this moment in time, one moment in time so much more meaningful and profound and desirable than that of Whitney Houston…

…and so, that quick snapshot of the ghost of Derek Bailey embracing the yet-to-be ghost of Keith Richards in “Tremoloa Debut”…

…and so it begins, not ends, with the final song, “It’s All Gonna Break,” the anti-“The End,” my beautiful friend, because of those triple yelps of “Gonna BREAK!”, because it rocks without falling into the rockist bearpit, and by that I mean people who misdefine rockism or use it as a truncheon with which to beat everything else they don’t agree with, and isn’t life too SHORT for that far-from-fine line, because this song proclaims, “You found what you loved and you loved what you found,” and I imagine it’s you singing to me, “The sound of your heart is a God I can trust,” even if that’s not what they’re singing, but that’s what comes across to my ears, and the unrelenting guitars climb higher and higher to banish twilight from that mountain forever so we can climb, you and me, and gasp in awe at the new world we are creating, and it goes down to Dixie-Narco speed, but then it builds up again to a Bolero, as the Broken Social Scene screams “KEEP IT COMING! THIS IS THE NIGHT TO SAVE YOUR LIFE!”…

…and so, for all Dory Previn lovers who will appreciate the secondary reference of that last line there…

…and so it’s a Bolero, the band never more together, united, determined, stalwart, and it finishes with a little line of query from the guitar: “So, what you do think? What’s it gonna be?” as the footsteps retreat from the record in order to lead us into the future…

…and so Broken Social Scene will do nothing for those who favour metal fists of glass, but aren’t templates for societies better built on the everlasting LOVE which is the absolute ESSENCE of Broken Social Scene, and it simply or complexly has to be FELT, because this is The Church Of Us now, you and me, my love, and it revels and spins in delirious worship and kisses so huge and long we might just be able to build a new planet to live on, this is our Amor Libris, this is

“Take a strand of your hair
on my fingers let it fall
across the pillow lift to my nostrils
inhale your body entire

“Sleeping with you after
weeks apart how normal
yet after midnight
to turn and slide my arm
along your thigh
drawn up in sleep
what delicate amaze”
(Adrienne Rich, “Memorize This”)

And so, as long as there’s tenderness and solidarity, this passion will endure and outlast and outlive every one of its antitheses, and our hearts master all incinerators.

And so, I never forget it, in people.

I love your love, and so on.


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