Sixty for 60: 29. The Nature Centre

First, we’re going to start with a Joni Mitchell song that – unexpectedly (see posts passim) – I like.

I think it’s the tonality of the background noise, and the way those drums remind me of ‘Flowers of Romance’ (PiL). Anyway, bear with me. Please. Clearly, I am not what I used to be. Right now, I want to listen to the whole damn song and this is impeding my business of getting on with writing about the name on the card in front of me. Damn it. So fine. This song would have merited a Plan B Magazine cover in and of itself. Yep.

OK. It’s stopped now. Next, we’re going to give ourselves (who am I kidding? There is only one of me here in my world)… myself a pat on the back. We… sorry, I played Wet Leg to Isaac last night and he agreed he was falling for its laconic charm. Mind you, he might have been humouring his ancient dad, or just impressed that I was referencing something post-1982.

OK. Calm down. I’m not used to this writing business. Can you tell? I am ridding myself of the flotsam and detritus before I get onto the name on the card and… if you aspiring young music critics want a single piece of advice here (who am I kidding? There is no one reading this blog entry except for the band themselves and me, for the fifth time) THEN IT IS THIS. Do not include the background context at the start of your review/article/blog entry/ reheated Microwave dinner. It detracts, slows everything down, makes the remainder a slug.

I mean, slog.

I mean, shrug.

Here is what a member of the Nature Centre wrote to me the other day: I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the Sarah Brand song. Hate to generalise, but I would bet a lung that many of those who are angry that she sounds ‘bad’ and doesn’t fit neat genre boundaries are the same people who proudly proclaim their love of ‘proper’ and ‘authentic’ music. I think she has an incredible voice, like a young Kate Bush turning cartwheels or, yeah, Joni on The Jungle Line.

You see now? How it all links?

Yeah, me neither.

I am a supporter of “unusual and non-alpha-male music” apparently, which to The Nature Centre is a juicy T-bone. The sun is now shining on my computer screen at that particular angle which means I cannot see past the numerous particles of dust residing on my screen and certainly cannot see a single wotrkgfng thatsw tfjt/

They’ve sent me an EPK, but frankly I have had it up to here with acronyms. Please don’t sack me from my day job.

My good pal and mentor Crayola Lectern says this: “The Nature Centre are the latest wonders to back up my theory of there being something special in the water over there in Birmingham, from whose taps the likes of E.L.O., Black Sabbath, Broadcast and Pram also drank.” He mentions Pram, which means I must mention Neil Kulkarni in turn. Damn sun, can;’t sewefsdfsaffdgbfgbd

Chris, for Gosh’s sake can we not mention fellow Brummies the psychedelic eight-piece splendour of Misty’s Big Adventure here?

More from the dust particles: “I would jump out of planes for you,” sings Hopkins, as her character stares wistfully at incoming airport traffic. Then, as chimes and clarinet signal the song’s second act, we witness the magical outcome of her obsession – Betty herself has transformed into a plane.”

Did any of that make sense? I still have no way of knowing.

This song ‘Parachute’ (oh, I am so glad the one solitary band-member and Chris have had the patience to stick with me thus far and thus encounter the denouement) (do I mean denouement?) (I really am not what I once wasfdgsfsadfasas))… seems to have turned into The Rolling Stones. Oops. Wait. Sorry.

This song ‘Parachute’ is better than three of your myriad ninja turtles boiled together in a soup tureen of purple psychedelic gloop and a fuck of a lot catchier too. No, wait. Surely I can do better than that? WHERE IS THE QUOTE FOR THE BATTLEMENTS? i CANNOT COMMENT on the video because I cannot see the fucking video so let’s just leave the video out for it but right now The Native Centre mix elements of Jane And Barton, one of those weird female English pastoral groups Mike Alway loved to indulge, Miranda Sex Garden, a pinch of something oblique and unsettling (The Red Army Choir singing ‘Sex Bomb’) and whole oodles of strangeness, otherness, togetherness, mischief, fun, moments in sound, oscillating otters, feral ferrets and likewise, bit of the under-garments from Vivan Stanshall and…

Yeah, pre-1982 only. Correct, Isaac.

CAN SOMEONE EDIT THIS? PLEASE? I like this a whole load more than I like the smug expression on your fucking face, that’s for sure. Some of us are still trying.

Sixty for 60: 27. Sarah Brand

This is quite the most brilliant thing I have heard in a real long time.

Many years back, during the 1990s. the term ‘Outsider Music’ came into popular usage. I first encountered it via those great series of books Re/Search released but others may have stumbled across it differently. For some, it became synonymous with mental illness or out-of-tunefulness (certainly the folk writing its Wikipedia page view it that way) but I never heard it like that. For me, it was more about a certain near childlike quality, the ability to follow your own path, create your own music, heedless or unable to take notice of what others think. Indeed, I find myself in violent objection to the claim mental illness should be associated with the term; that is both patronising and WRONG.

So Moondogg, Jandek, Jad Fair. The Langley Schools Music Project. Perhaps Daniel Johnston, but Daniel’s music follows very conventional structures and patterns if you bother listening to it. This Wiki description is a little more on the money.

The term “outsider music” is traced to the definitions of “outsider art” and “naïve art“.[3] “Outsider art” is rooted in the 1920s French concept of “L’Art Brut” (“raw art”). In 1972, academic Roger Cardinal introduced “outsider art” as the American counterpart of “L’Art Brut”, which originally referred to work created exclusively by children or the mentally ill.[4] The word “outsider” began to be applied to music cultures as early as 1959, with respect to jazz,[5] and to rock as early as 1979.[6] In the 1970s, “outsider music” was also a “favorite epithet” in music criticism in Europe.[7] By the 1980s and 1990s, “outsider” was common in the cultural lexicon and was synonymous with “self-taught”, “untrained”, and “primitive”.[4]

It is in the nature of Outsider Music that it attracts a great deal of derision and scorn from those who’d much rather their dull grey conventional rock to be dull and grey and conventional, and their boring dullard formula pop to be boring and dullard and formulaic with their reinforcement of the heteronormative hegemony and so forth. Fuck, did my colleagues at Melody Maker make fun of Daniel Johnston in the early 1990s… didn’t everyone, until I passed that T-shirt along to a more famous friend and then all of sudden everyone understood him.

Whatever.

Listen. I chanced across this, just prior to going to bed, via a random link from a random person on Facebook and… man. This is great. Seriously great. Captures pathos and heartbreak, rebellion and desire, outsider status and lust better than 30,000 conventional ‘tuneful’ singers could ever dream of doing. Neat video too. Think of it as “jazz”, as Joni Mitchell or Annette Peacock or someone if it helps you understand a little better. But seriously great. Throws the listener off-balance, disorientates them, forces them to listen closer. As John Peel once put it, “There is no such thing as good or bad music, just good and bad listeners”. You would not believe the amount of scorn and derision this simple charming song has attracted on YouTube though… or perhaps you would.

Sigh. Every single one of them missing the point.

Has anyone told you that you might be tone deaf? You should stick to directing. That was good.
Is anybody gonna tell her she can’t sing
This is what happens when daddy has a fuck ton of money and his baby girl “can be what ever she wanted to be”. All the while ignoring that fact that his baby girl lacks… talent.
I can’t tell if she wants to be singer or a stripper?


And so forth.

Ignore them, Sarah. This is brilliant.

RESPONSE FROM ARTIST

Thank you so much! I really appreciate your take on it, very interesting. Insider-outsider paradigms within a religious context prompted “Red Dress.” My inspiration stems from witnessing church organisations preaching inclusivity while practicing exclusivity. “Red Dress” chronicles this story, but also envisions a future where everyone drops their prejudices and comes together. I am passionate about this message of inclusivity and prompting reflection.