Andrew Cowie, Angel Eyes
I am not as proficient in the art of describing a personal response to music as I should be. In the case of Vatican Shadow‘s song/piece ‘Al Queda Posses Nuclear Capacity” I felt an analogy might be the best way to fulfill the requirement. As you’ll find out analogies are hardly a strength.
At night as a child growing up on a farm, I’d have visions of an intruder wearing nondescript splatter stained boots. On foot he would trudge across the paddocks in the wide open, absolutely stark but unseen, becoming larger as he neared. Without stealth and within the hushed drone of the night, he would skirt the house calmly and business-like as I tried to gag a thousand screaming internal voices.
The intruder had no particular face, but his eyes – somewhat dead – were of a singular vision having cast adrift any periphery distraction. At some point he would just stand statuesque in the open and stare. There was an unknown feeling that went with it which would persist till dawn. My eyes would strain trying to glean some sort of impression of what might be out there. It would break into a sort of mental displacement, a moment where I’d unblinkingly stare through the eyes of the intruder. I felt his lust for fear and I felt myself feeding him, but could not foresee the stain of horror he intended to inflict.
Ultimately the horror never arrived.
It was a dichotomy, a secretive internal frantic state, constant, squeezing and unforgiving countered with my physical exterior that was still as stone, as well as the imagined potential of absolute deluge of violence amongst the actuality of my surroundings, cows gently chewing grass, a light bulb with a few flickering bugs.
Daniel Spencer, Blank Realm
So this was a pretty crazy year. I won’t even go into the personal ups and downs that made this both the best and worst year possible, but I will say that it was a great year for music. Friends and strangers made many, many records that delighted my heart this year. Inevitably there will be some who will say that this was a lacklustre year for music. To those people I say stop snoozing.
The best surprise this year was Chapter Music’s reissue of Tully’s 1971 surf movie soundtrack Sea of Joy on wax. Long a personal fave of mine, I previously had to content myself with a Japanese CD reissue. Made all the more poignant by the sad passing of Richard Lockwood, this is one of those world-unto-itself kind of records, a broadcast from another time when naked idealism did battle with creeping hints of lysergic darkness.
Sea of Joy is psychedelic, but never too wild. There is fuzzed out guitar, but it’s all kept very on the level. The playing is precise and measured, and even the sitar jam doesn’t get too out of hand. Several sections feel almost like British library music, more suited to soundtracking footage of a Morris Minor ambling down a country lane than the wild ocean.
I could spill a lot of useless words trying to describe this most unusual of surf soundtracks, but suffice to say it is a spooky and truly endearing record that I find myself returning to over and over.