evil whispers in the gloom, poisoning the scent of darkness.

Posted: March 29, 2013 in Music nobody listens to

Song Of The Day

the old iPod served this up on the drive in, and oh it was fine.  I am a bit disappoint that the band did not play it in Chicago, but considering the inextricable place the Welsh Men’s Choir has toward the end, it is probably best served in it’s natural state.

Ancient and Modern, the title track of the most recent album.  And oh yes, it is indeed an album; the songs fit together, although they are not sequential; in a modern twist, they can be played in random orders, for more or less synchronicity; but the release was offered in vinyl, and it had fold outs and detailed liner notes with elegant graphical design.  I could not abide with just the digital download, myself, so I bought both.

The song did not exist on the Utuber, so I made this for you out of stone knives and bearskins:


The song starts quietly, Lu picking his saz (maybe a mandolin?). Rico Bell begins with the plaintive vocals while strummed guitar joins in, returning to the refrain “I had a minor breakdown” after every other line.  The vocal pause before ‘breakdown’ makes it seem he is losing track…

Drums start accentuating and accelerating the song as Rico repeats the refrain;  when he sings about exotic birds, he breaks the meter and hums off into the darkness, creating amazing tension in the song.

The mask of nothingness marks the entrance of the second theme; Sara with a spoken piece, in which the minor breakdown reappears, and Susie Honeyman’s violin enters the picture, with Rico’s accordion mournfully playing counterpoint in the background. Then Tom enters with a third Edwardian theme, singing along in a broken tenor; and Sally Timms completes the theme with another spoken piece, after which Tom completes the lyrics with another verse.  As Tom sings the verses, the violin starts soaring and coming to the fore, driving the song into a more upbeat tempo.  Just setting the table for the next bit…

And then…. AND THEN, the Burlington Welsh Male Choir (amusingly enough, a Canadian group) joins in with what is actually the chorus:  but they only sing it twice in a row, right at the end of the song.  Look the Mekons are punks and anarchists, they work by instinct, not by typical song structures!  Anyway, the Welsh brigade sing this:

Today we shall war against the roaring of the sea
Look back to land and see sorrow
The light will be darkened and they shall come with speed
Ancient and Modern tomorrow.

Wow.  That’s as close to an epic as the Mekes have gotten since Orpheus, and it clear fuck knocks me out.  Sorrow and anomie and the past, the bleak present, a sliver of hope for tomorrow – but just a sliver.  On first listen, It sounds like merely a traditionally inflected alt-folk tune, but it’s bones are punk as fuck.

  1. Kathleen says:

    “The song did not exist on the Utuber, so I made this for you out of stone knives and bearskins”


    “Punk as fuck” would Make a good coffee mug.

  2. mikey says:

    Instead of, you know, listening to the song, I’m just going to assume it sounds kinda weird but feels like “Shelter from the storm” and move on to other things.

    I’m going to postulate (or perhaps pustulate, but that would be unfortunate) that something could be punk as fuck and not necessarily be good, in any sense of the concept. That merely states the premise that it is at the extreme punk end of the punkness scale. No Use for a Name is punk as fuck, but much of their music is GAHbage – with the very important exception of “Soulmate”, a song I have been hopelessly in love with for decades. On the other hand, Rancid is PUNKER than fuck, and all their shit runs to the superb, primarily because they are, unusually for punksters, tremendously talented musicians. On the third hand, the Punker the Flaming Lips get, the crappier the music – when they do real songs like Turn it On they are much less punk than fuck, or really even less punk than poopoo, but that song is Good as Fuck n a half…

  3. Kathleen says:


    Then I want a baby jumper that says it.

  4. Kathleen says:

    Current status
    Watching Vampire Diaries.
    Blog commenting.
    Eating chicken sandwich.
    Reading “No-Fail Color Schemes”

  5. Also, listening to The Professional Left Podcast and driftglass JUST FUCKED UP A SCI-FI QUESTION ABOUT SEAN CONNERY WEARING SHORT-SHORTS!!!!!!

  6. nobody listens to the Mekons. ::cry::

  7. Kathleen says:

    “Pick pops of mood-lifting color to wake up comfortable basics.”

  8. Kathleen says:

    I am currently into grayish blue

  9. mikey says:

    Color annoys me. My mom made me wear red cords to school in the 4th grade. I spent years trying to explain to designers experienced in offset that silkscreen color matching was inexact. They were the classic case of people who refused to understand things that their salary depended on them NOT understanding. But I wasn’t going to tie my press up all day for one job because these idiots didn’t get the difference. Often it came down to physically intimidating them. Hmm, maybe my boss kept me around for less cerebral reasons than I had previously believed.

    I wear lots of colors. Black. Grey. Charcoal. Denim blue. Um, maybe not so many colors after all.

    Actually, the walls of this apartment are a subtle salmon. Weird, but I’m not much into interiors, so I think it makes me adventurous.

    Frankly, my favorite color is Leather.

    Also, too…

    • herr doktor bimler says:

      Ah, silk-screening. Ah, the fumes of interesting and brain-dissolving organic solvents that aren’t served in a whisky tumbler. Ah, the holes in the hands from washing the screens with lye to remove old stencils

    • Ahh, so my entire life annoys mikey. Explains a lot.

      Most architects are hesitant toward color at best. Which can be a blessing, because most of them kind of suck at it, likely because they haven’t tried anything. Hey, paint is cheap.

      It helps to have a bit of a natural inclination toward it. It has been hilarious to do furniture or other interior work on our house, and to see WS get more irritated at being the default color person until she yells at the salesperson “Talk to HIM about it! I don’t pick the colors!” Of course, she’s an engineer, so who cares what it looks like, right?

      I read something piece of evo-psych crap that claimed men had their color receptors operationally decreased by testosterone, so that’s why women are better at interiors and colors, or some crap like that. I found it doubtful, so I didn’t pay much attention (surely Smut will chime in with hie Pedant-On-Demand service) but it seems to me that acculturation is much more likely. So what I am saying here is that if mikey had not been forced to kill things at a young age, he would have been a FIESTA OF COLOR! At least in spring. If colors really annoyed him, he would paint that damn apartment.

      Of course, colors in personal garb are much different than color in the built environment. Nobody wants a building done in pink paisleys (although the Fender Stratocaster done as such was SPECTACULAR). But that doesn’t mean every building has to be muted and colorless.

      The second phase of KDC, we were using a siding product that had limited color choices; the buildings wound up in whites and greys. I still find it massively disappointing when we drive by. Of course, the current phase is of two color schemes, and the color choices are much bolder. And as a final accent color, I used a lime green front door on one scheme, and a lemon yellow on another. They look amazing, and perfectly appropriate in the neighborhood.

      I often said that if I ever moved to a suburban neighborhood, the neighbors would be appalled because the house would eventually be painted in unacceptable ways. Hell, my house has (grayish blue!) stripes! But not being in the suburbs, the neighbors don’t mind.

      Shorter zombie: Color in buildings is different than color in clothes. I like using color in my work. Except for salmon, of course; that’s a travesty.

  10. And oh yes, it is indeed an album; the songs fit together, although they are not sequential

    I feel that way about Hedningarna’s “Tra”… while the songs are all killer, the whole is better than the sum of the awesome parts. It starts out soft, but slightly ominous, then the chainsaw kicks in.

    Have you picked this album out?