You can feel that warm glow between the sphinx up there. Nestled between the darkness and the blue-black sky. Summer is coming.
It’s that time of year again when Brighton (and Hove) does the metaphysical Transformer thing and shakes itself from its rusting sodden slumber, makes some clanking noises, throws out a few plastic tables and assumes its true form. It’s a magical time, a hot primordial fluid from which, for a few special days at its height, we can pretend that Balearic is a physical possibility on our reactionary isle.
And when we do pretend we can pretend in the embrace of Mark Barrott, our favourite purveyor of sun-kissed sounds through his International Feel label.
The latest from International Feel is an album under Mr Barrott’s own name. And what a work of distilled Balearic bliss it is.
If it’s possible for a song to sound like light streaming through leaves; soft focus and grainy — then here we are. A simple and delicate porch song. Lots of playful crash zooms and laughing people in glistening bays. There’s actual sunlight trapped in there, I swear it. It has captured the soul of the summer and brought it on holiday with us.
Sketches From an Island is out on June 2nd and you can pick it up from Boomkat* right here.
We may have mentioned the gateway drug that is Streets of Rage (or Bare Knuckle) more than a few times.
What there precisely was about drunkenly navigating Brighton’s blissed out promenade on a warm May evening that made me want to play it, I’ll never know. Was it the ‘circus school’ by the ruined pier? Was it the hordes down from London packing out the seafront club’s daylight dalliance with being cafes? Was it the joggers jogging, the mechanised battle between pushchair and bicycle? Who knows, I was drunk and happy and wanted to play the excellent (and reverent) version on the 3DS.
While Streets of Rage was filling me with early 90s nostalgia for early 80s street violence, Denny’s wonderful, self released EP was percolating in the back of my mind.
Less early summer street rage and more 3am nightmare, the 3rd track on the EP is divided sharply into two parts.
The first, dominated initially by a menacing, descending synth baseline is only eventually complimented by minimal percussion shortly before the melody arrives. This is Streets of Rage if Streets Of Rage consisted of pixelated dawns and the ability to grab enemies and throw them into a pit of existential torment. A pre-apocalyptic vision of the promenade; Brighton before the rain.
After a mess of fuzzy feedback is silenced by maching-gun-drums we get to the post-apocalyptic moment of stillness that ends the the track and the EP. Drums like flack cannons; sunlight shifting its hue through the destruction like waves. It’s a brief and quite haunting coda.
All of the lines in the Church converge in a slab of stone framed by the statues of two weeping saints, terrible like the fragment of a meteorite hurled by cosmic titans of sadness. In the slab, the people of the village chisel the names and ages of those they have lost to the Sea. With each of her blinks, the visitor flashes back to the terminal situation each of the names refers to.
Storms made of clouds bulging and full of evil agency like the faces of hateful giants vomiting death threats and curses at you, you sneer back and ask if they want to take this outside, or rather, down-side, which they do.
Storms made of clouds numb with the indifference of a universe against which you rage with your fist in the air, all teeth and knuckles and spit, before you sink.
Storms made with geometrical precision like the circumference of the maelstrom, and the cruel centripetal forces that draw you inside, away from all warmth and away from all love, down you go, and you sing.
The song is by Hand of Dust, a band from Copenhagen whose music crashes and surges ominous, dirgeful and violent like murder ballads shrieked from a prison of black ice.