Friend of Bifurcated and United fan Iwan Lehnert (
@IwanLehnert) who writes his own footy blog Lines and Lines of Whatever alongside sister blog for music reviews Small World Reviews was deciding whether to settle down with a book or flick on the PS3, when he was disturbed by a menacing tap at the window. It was none other than the Bifurcated Conductor beckoning him with his best version of creepy, using his index finger.
He tossed Iwan a quid coin and shoved him gently in the direction of the platform.
There was only one train waiting to depart, there was only one destination…
(We’re going to come up with a theme tune: Canvey Island, Canvey Island … That’s it so far.)
At the other end he was politely shoved (Again! A bit shovey this week) in the direction of the grubby car park and the car boot sale stall, run this time by someone who looked the spitting image of ex-Manchester United player Edward Sheringham. (Never heard of him!)
As per usual the
stallholder has a message. “Welcome to Canvey Island cds, tapes and vinyl. I’ve got to shift all these for a friend of a friend after a misunderstanding over some meatballs, anyhow, won’t bore you with the detail, they get less and less visits to this site by the day. Don’t want to scare more of you off with this rubbish … We have every single ever pressed or recorded in stock, and at 5 for £1, you can enjoy picking some of your 5 favourites of all time?!”
“The problem you can run into with albums becoming intrinsically linked to a difficult period in your life is that it then becomes very difficult to truly enjoy them in the future and detach them from that time. Vheissu is an utterly fantastic rock record, with a tone, accessibility and variation on its own special level. It stuck with me through a needlessly emo year in university and it still holds a slightly unwelcome nostalgic twang to it now. Regardless, it flows tremendously from jagged heaviness to vibraphone melodies with aplomb, Of Dust and Nations leaning more towards the former with a great driving beat and an utterly absorbing lead melody. The chorus is one of many on the record that soars so easily but resounds amazingly, very evocative without being too forceful. Vheissu’s got a shedload of moments that you can connect with emotionally without it being a depressing experience.”
“See, it’s genuinely quite hard to pick a single Bjork song (stop mocking me with your eyes) to choose for the purposes of this playlist because there are actually quite a lot of oddly spectacular songs in her catalogue. She’s exceptionally unconventional and uncompromising, and whilst I don’t always agree with what she puts out (It’s Oh So Quiet is proper rubbish, and I’ll take down anyone who says otherwise), more often than not, she gets it right. Vespertine is a magical record, soft, playful, imaginative and insanely creative, and Post more wild, poppy and diverse. I’ve plumped for Joga from Homogenic, though. The string arrangement is stunningly beautiful, the electronics are underdone and don’t swamp the melody and Bjork’s vocals are just the right amount of pretty, absorbing and heartbreaking.”
“Probably the most out-there entry on the list, and easily the most jaunty. It’s part of a concept album named Tallahassee, written by the main Mountain Goat John Darnielle about a married couple teetering on divorce, and No Children is probably the most scathing song of his career. Darnielle is incredibly prolific, having released thirteen studio albums since the mid 90s centred around simple, acoustic driven songs with these vivid stories of his own made-up characters for lyrics. No Children is probably the most charming yet scathing lyrical attack I’ve ever heard, and the incredibly buoyant, almost joyful instrumentation acting as the perfect foil. Case in point; “Our friends say it darkest before the sun rises, we’re pretty sure they’re all wrong.” Darnielle’s a genius. Hail.”
“In a sense, Transatlanticism is a perfect slice of modern American music as you can imagine it being used in literally hundreds of television shows in a slew of emotional moments and scenes. Got characters moving on positively? Use the upbeat, insanely catchy Sound of Settling. Lamenting a break-up? The deliciously fragile acoustics of A Lack of Colour will sort you right out. How about missing your love through the medium of a montage in which you look longingly out of a window? Look no further than the soaring, epic title-track. In all seriousness, Transatlanticism is a varied, insightful and affecting indie rock record of the highest calibre, less concerned with brazen energy and focusing more on thoughtful introspection. It’s wonderfully put together, and the aforementioned centre piece takes its time to get going, building slowly through a gorgeous, light piano melody before gently adding simplistic, pounding drums and Benjamin Gibbard’s repeated refrain, “I need you so much closer.” Sure, it’s not the happiest tune you’ll ever hear, but it’s one of those life-affirming numbers that has the power to make you reflective, wistful, heartbroken and celebratory in one go. Fantastic stuff.”
“Note: if within the first five seconds of this song, you hate it, that’s ok. Easily the heaviest selection here, this is Brighton’s metallic hardcore noiseniks Architects with the first song from their most popular album, Hollow Crown. Reason for inclusion is that it’s a lumbering bastard with an intensely addictive off-kilter groove. It refuses to sit still for too long but it’s wonderfully constructed, taking in manic spurts of technical riffing, a huge chorus, soaring bridge and epic, stomping conclusion. Thing is that you do run the risk of alienating people with this sort of music because it’s just not insanely accessible. Most folk simply don’t want to hear loud, thick guitars and screaming vocals, and will instantly and harshly judge the taste of anyone who says they like anything akin to it. But hey, what can you do? Heavy music is for everyone, but it’s not made for everyone. Either way, there’s just something about Early Grave that excites every time. I’m not exactly prone to aggression or shouting and I still fancy screaming wildly into the face of the next poor passerby when that gang chant comes along.”
Just before Iwan heads back to the platform the Teddy “look-a-like” stallholder pointed him in the direction of the old abandoned book stall and asks him to pick out a book, for free, for the journey home.
“For some reason, I feel quite guilty when discussing books. They’re sort of like an old friend that I keep arranging plans with, only to bail coldly at the last minute in favour of switching the PS3 on. Dad often sends books for Christmas from his abode on the east coast of Australia, and I always feel guilty for not reading them all (currently got at least 5/6 behemoths to get through from the last few years), because when I have, his choices have often been wonderful. Murakami was a great choice because he’s a genius, centring his work around deep characters in Japan and journeys so believable that the surreal trials they often come across as utterly natural. Kafka on the Shore is a masterwork, splitting its focus between young runaway Kafka Tamura, escaping an oedipal prophecy from his father regarding his absent mother and finding solace in a rural library and the middle-aged Satoru Nakata, who can talk to cats. If it sounds weird, it’s presented in such a naturalistic way that you’ll barely notice. Murakami is a genius at dropping you in to these complex, metaphysical situations but doing so in an accessible, enjoyable way. His work can initially seem quite daunting, but it’s stunningly rewarding if you want to put the effort in.”
…and then we dropped Iwan back in his front room … he headed straight for the PS3.
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