Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Keaton Henson - Birthdays [2013]

So, soup died on us a month or so ago. And then it rose from the dead, forgetting everything up to spring 2015. All you 2016 haters, see what you’ve done. The good thing, however, is discovering once again the things we loved back then. And as I stumbled on Keaton Henson’s quote, I felt the same astonishment I felt two years ago. Not only is he pretty in his sadness, he’s also (quite) good with words.

The words that initially caught my attention were:
If you must fight
Fight with yourself and your thought in the night
If you must work
Work to leave some part of you on this earth
If you live darling one
Just live

Cliche, I guess, just like lost and unfulfilled loves that are the main subject of Henson Birthdays’ songs. The album offers some musical diversity, toying with heavier and more aggressive sounds in Kronos (I'd give you all I have / If I could get it back) and cannibalistically optimistic Milk Teeth (One day you'll drink from my bones), but it’s mostly simple and ethereally ascetic, serving merely as background to Henson’s trembling voice and the words of his poetry.

To me, it’s Norwegian mornings in my memory, brisky, but dreamy, cold, but with a warm edge, simple but rich in meaning. Smiling when sarcastic and sad, but melancholic when expressing happiness. I fell in love with looping You, respected Lying to You, nodded “just like me” in Beekeeper (Tact from me is like blood from a stone - but well, I’m working on it) and screamed “preach it” in If I Don’t Have To.

It’s not the kind of music that will sweep you of your feet with its complexity. But if you feel like enjoying something which is simple, but not cheap, try it.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Caspian - Waking Season [2012]

Three years ago I told you about depressive winter 2013 in Berlin, this time we travel back to early spring Oslo 2015, a time of hope, amazing meetings and complete infatuation. Infatuation with yet another work of Caspian that I dared call my favourite (that was until I heard Dust and Disquiet, what a beautiful habit of them to give me a new favourite every few years) and infatuation with this peaceful and seemingly ascetic country, to me so vibrant with life, subtle emotions and incredible art. And the companion to that journey was Waking Season, first heard in 2012, fully loved in early 2015.
While I generally prefer company during longer travels, I long for the moments when I ditch it and wander in these new places completely alone. And so I was, on a wintery Sunday evening, strolling through Tøyen with my ears full of music and eyes full of… anxiety.
Waking Season is very much like the overwhelming feeling of beauty and harmony, the growing excitement of discovering a new place that will stick to your thoughts. Porcellous - seeing your discovery more clearly, distinguishing real beauty from fake gold and growing confident in your love. It is of amazing strength like determined, dependable love. Gone in Bloom and Bough are the sunny mornings on the road.  Legs are willing, mind is calm and road is long. Heart gets teary…”  - I noted back then. 
I have since returned to this album many times, somehow always ending up listening to it while out and high on feelings. Compared to other works of Caspian, Waking Season may seem more spacy and fleeting. The fact that I associate it with winter is sort of ridiculous, given that everything here is slowly rising, blooming and very spring like. Still, somehow it introduces new hope to gloomy, depressive Januaries. 
Maybe I’m the only one thinking “this year can’t be as good as the last one” and drowning in almost-giving-up, but if you’re there too, see if Caspian wakes you up. By Hickory ‘54 I’m usually rising my head and asking the stars to beat the clouds.