To celebrate my 60th birthday, I asked my social media friends to nominate a favourite song from 2021 – 60 to commemorate the fact I am 60.
Today, it’s the turn of the peerless Neil Kulkarni (Dave Callahan’s description of when he met me in the 1980s always comes to mind when I think of Neil, “he treats music like a bruised lover”). Neil did not recommend this song specifically to me, but I care not a snap for that. I am simply shocked that I was not aware of this artist before now. (Disclaimer: I may have been, but forgot.) The song under consideration is ‘If U Die’ by Azita. Neil shared this on Facebook three scant hours ago with the words, “Love the album this is from and love this video”. So I watched it still half-asleep, through eyelids heavy with the debris of smoke from the bonfire on the allotment the night before, and was totally taken in by the video. “Who is that dude with the greasy long hair and beard, like a 70s acid causality or bit-part member of Foo Fighters?” I thought to myself drowsily. “Man, that female guitarist rocks.”
Damn, I can be slow.
Perhaps it was the context or the connection but… wait. Isn’t this precisely the sort of music I used to hate, too-clever math rock mixed in with improv jazz and weird time signatures and a stop-start thrown in right at the heart of the clamour just so we appreciate how “on it” the band are? Like I say, I was drowsy – but Neil sez and so I let the music play out, becoming more and more captured by its off-peak melody, its malodorous sway. Second play in, I found myself resenting the fact I have deliberately removed myself from most every press agent’s mailing list ever just cos I dislike clutter, cos I want to find out more more more about this intoxicating off-kilter sound, hear more more more of this intoxicating off-beam sound.
Nobly, I have resisted the temptation to discover more. Research? Why bother when you can revel in the mystery, the imagination? To these ears, it recalls some fine 1981-vintage excursions into jazz, improv and post-prog that was taking place at London Musicians Collective. Ido not have the slightest idea who this artist (“band”) is, and am revelling in it. A perfect moment, alone.