Valentine’s week appropriately saw myself and SW finally complete the new No-Man opus, ‘Together We’re Stranger’.
A week of passing sound files back and forth from London to Norwich (the true capital of the nation) resulted in the last minute inclusion of a song called ‘Back When You Were Beautiful’ which, while not necessarily the strongest piece on the album, gave the project as a whole a greater sense of cohesion and substance, as well as allowing Stephen Bennett and ‘Lord’ Peter ‘prince of posh’ Chilvers more opportunities to be part of the fun. Of course, when I say fun, I actually mean suicidal misery.
Talking of which, most of this month’s cultural highlights for me have involved suicide in one way or another. ‘Solaris’, despite its seductive cosmic imagery, primarily deals with a man attempting to come to terms with the suicide of his wife. ‘The Hours’ brilliantly fuses fact and fiction and contemplates the nature of art and reality, in a tale of three disparate women. Containing not one but two suicides and a mediocre Phillip Glass soundtrack, it’s worth seeing despite the Oscar nominations.
I also finally tracked down Richard Brautigan’s posthumous novel, ‘An Unfortunate Woman’. Dealing with Brautigan’s avoidance of acknowledging the suicide of a friend, the novel’s downbeat, poetic tone is closer to Raymond Carver than the playful musings of previous work like ‘Willard And His Bowling Trophies’. It was an especially poignant read given Brautigan’s own suicide a year after he’d completed the novel. Shit, is someone telling me something!
On a lighter note, I enjoyed the creatively funny exploits of Charlie Kaufman’s ‘Adaptation’ and PT Anderson’s ‘Punch-Drunk Love’, which along with me rediscovering my enthusiasm for late 1960s ‘Avengers’ episodes, suggested that intelligent art needn’t always be bleak. They also made me lament the fact that over a hundred years down the line cinema still seems to be finding innovative new means of expressing itself, while Pop/Rock (still under 50) seems in a slightly unambitious and unhealthy state at the moment.
Massive Attack’s newbie turned out to be a masterpiece of atmospheric production with a minimum of tunes, but along with Mum’s ‘Finally We Are No-One’ and Roy Ayers ‘Anthology’, it was the only thing I found myself wanting to play this month.
My debut work with Centrozoon has just been completed. A surprisingly accessible, yet adventurous, five track affair, it shares very little in common with the direction that No-Man and Bowness/Chilvers have gone in, and is perhaps all the better for it.
With several No-Man interviews scheduled for the next few weeks and my ongoing Cultural Studies course, I may find some new ways to avoid filling this diary. Until I don’t….