Friday, June 26, 2020


The favorite things I've heard this year are not from this year

The first track, "Echos" is  hauntología far ahead of its time (made 1978). "In Memoriam Of Mercedes Cornu," it's a sonic equivalent to those little roadside shrines of flowers and candles and photographs that are so poignant to stumble upon. Ferreyra wove it entirely out of the voice of her niece, who died in a car accident. 

The creator's account of the track sticks to technicalities, perhaps as a form of emotional self-defense: "This work has been composed by reconstructing four Latin-American popular songs – 2 Argentinian and 2 Brazilian – which were sung a capella by Mercedes Cornu. These songs were broken down into short and long sounds, syllables, breathings, coughs, etc and then rearranged using techniques of tape cutting, mixing and manual shakes."

About the second piece, from 1987, L'autre ... Ou Le Chant Des Marecages /The• Doubue • Or The Swamp's, Ferreyra talks of the inspiration in more vivid and animated terms: "I was deeply impressed with Blaise Cendrars’s paradoxal personnality, his terrifying « Double » which strips itself with an naked  extrem and sadic cruelty in his book « Moravagine, It was impossible for me not to record the depth of my feelings in a brutal and wild vocal composition. The « Sacow » of Moravagine, lurks behind it. The work’s onomatopeia was inpired by the short « black poems » from Cendrars’s story : « the white were black » (Les blacs étaint des noirs)."

Saturday, June 20, 2020

"Webster's set me free"

Released on my birthday, Green's first new release in fourteen years!

I've been listening to his music for over forty years now  and - apart from a couple of lulls - it's continuously delighted and fascinated.

Part of the gift of "Tangled Man" is the impetus it's given me to listen finally to Anne Briggs. Just never got around to it somehow.


(I have a record-fiend friend who happily coughed up $600 for an original copy of one of Briggs's albums. I gasped when he told me - but couldn't help admiring how he brooked no obstacles to his wants and needs.)

On "the flipside", Green covers another Briggs tune

The original

Here's Green talking about how he was a folkie before he was a punkie:

“Recently, in an interview for a forthcoming book about art and music in Leeds in the 70’s and 80’s, the author asked me, as an aside, if it were true that I was wearing Morris Dancer’s leg bells at the 1976 gig there by the Sex Pistols, Clash, Damned and Heartbreakers as other interviewees present that night had reported. My DNA was reconfigured that evening so my memory is hazy but it is very likely that I was wearing the leg bell pads made for me by a school friend some years before. In fact I may well have gone to the gig straight from the evening Morris dancing lessons I attended at Leeds university.

"Because before punk gave me the liberty and license to make my own music I was geekily obsessed with ‘folk’. When I was fourteen I was enraptured by the Fairport Convention album Liege and Lief and became an underage regular at Dublin Moran’s folk club at the Castle, a very insalubrious pub down Newport docks. It’s there I was made aware of the Topic record label and the music of the Watersons, Martin Carthy (who I subsequently stalked . . . ask him) and Anne Briggs. The beautiful melodies Anne sang unaccompanied were profoundly affecting, her unornamented voice a precursor to the anti-professionalism of DIY. For a long while I walked about dressed like a 19th century farm labourer (with a bit of eyeliner) in a kind of hypnagogic reverie to an inner soundtrack of Northumbrian pipe tunes, Wassailing songs and Morris dances. Jesus.

Forward some 40 odd years and my friend and Scritti Politti bandmate Rhodri Marsden had been contacted to do an arrangement of an Anne Briggs song for a project with which he was involved. Knowing I was a fan he suggested maybe I’d like to take on the task. I was dead keen and recorded myself at home playing and singing my versions of a couple of the very few songs Annie had written many years ago...."

Interesting that Green here pinpoints Briggs's naturalistic, "unornamented" singing... because his own vocals on "Tangled" and "Wishing" have never sounded so synthetic and stylized, a quality shared by  the denatured setting for the songs (bar the guitar part on "Tangled"). Far far from folk (indeed he sings, as he has since Songs To Remember, in an American accent.... rippling strands of liquid sugar spooling from his lips).

The title of this post? When I listen to "Tangled Man," I hear the lyric  as "Webster's set me free".  Which would fit the logophile bibbly-o-maniac Green, evoking all the places that reading has taken him...  (Even the Americanized reference would be the kind of thing he'd pop into a lyric, rather than the OED).

Green's words, in song and interview, have been among the "ways to set me free", the select number of mind-expanding things that set me on my present course.

Now, how about an album, you lazy sod?

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

UTOPIA NOW: Music & Utopia – Carl Neville & Simon Reynolds in conversation

Tomorrow, Wednesday June 17th, at 7pm UK / 2pm East Coast / 11 am West Coast - a YouTube live discussion between Simon Reynolds and Carl Neville on the subject of utopia and music.  Part of a series of virtual events on Utopia, to celebrate a novel of Utopian speculation -Eminent Domain, Carl's new novel for Repeater Books. Questions and comments from viewers welcomed.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020


The present flickers on a knife edge between the dystopian and the utopian - and here's Carl Neville with a new novel for Repeater that hurls the reader into a counterfactual world circa now that in some ways is close-to-utopian, but also contains within it dystopian aspects - or regions - far worse even than the worst that last week momentarily seemed to herald.

Here's how I blurbed it:

“Alternative history usually involves dystopian scenarios – counterfactual realities in which the Nazis conquered the world, the South won the Civil War, the Reformation never happened. Eminent Domain is that rare thing — a near-utopian version of the present more advanced and progressive than our own, rendered with a level of vivid and intricate detail comparable with William Gibson at his most disorienting. But where speculative fiction typically presents a warped mirror image of our own era, Carl Neville’s enthralling and immersive novel does something different – it makes you aware of the radical potentials, the different way things could be, that lurk latent in the world as it stands. Eminent Domain makes this present in which we currently languish feel like the impostor reality.”

More information and how to purchase Eminent Domain at the Repeater Books site.

Carl has started a series of blog essays that detail his journey through life, art, writing and thought that led to where he is now and the work he is doing. Here is the first installment.  He's also just blogged a couple of Spotify playlists related to Eminent Domain and its precursor-sibling novel Resolution Way.

Carl will also be convening a series of discussions on the theme of utopia to take place live on YouTube -  including one next week on music and the utopian in which I will be participating. More details on that to come.

Music and the utopian, eh? It's such an open-ended term and if you're not careful you can start thinking of any music that is vaguely suggestive of paradise or heaven. But in terms of music that actually proposes or enacts a model society, for months now - since doing the memorial lecture in fact - I have been obsessed with this song.