It has been a while. I’ve not been ill, away or suffering from any kind of metaphysical crisis. Merely that a combination of long night shifts and the World Cup has left MMM towers a relatively music-free zone for the last month. Although it was, in a way, an enforced break, it’s actually been quite a good thing to be away from music for a little while, allowing me to recharge my critical faculties and enthusiasm.
One weird side effect is that I’ve found myself thinking about music more than is usual. Trying to work out why I like what I like, and why it means what it means to me. And what sort of triggers are required to make something happen in my brain that engages me with the sounds I’m hearing. It’s a self-conversation that would be narcissistic and boring to air, and I’m not sure I have the skills to put it all into words anyway. In fact, you’ve probably just wasted a minute of your life reading this entire paragraph. Moving on.
One EP I’ve had for a while is the new project by Herb head honcho Craig Murphy and guitarist Ed Drury, otherwise known as Shoosh. I played Magus a couple of times a month ago and have only just returned to it. With the lay-off it sounds both fresh and familiar. A bit of background, first. Shoosh’s previous outing, Orpheum Circuit, was subject to some fairly harsh words in these pages. It all stemmed from the singer Neil Carlill. Going back to the previous paragraph, his voice triggered something in my brain that just blocked out everything else in the music, to the extent that I couldn’t hear it. Just that voice. And I hated that voice.
So a voice-free Shoosh EP was a more than welcome arrival. And a charming little thing it is too. Drury’s guitar takes centre stage with some Fahey-like acoustic pieces that exude a folkish bounce while Murphy colours in the edges with some subtle shading. The final track of the four, Brilliant White Frost, changes the perspective. Drury teases out a melancholy little requiem and Murphy indulges in some Burial-influenced stretching and squashing of a sad little voice loop, turning it into the ghostly echo of a fleeting moment of pleading. Needless to say it’s my favourite of the four, but Magus is a gentle delight from start to finish. It comes out on August 2nd. More details at herbrecordings.com
OK – so I have an inbox full of stuff to listen to and mail to reply to. Not to mention the new Autechre LP. I’ve got a day off tomorrow and if the weather’s anything like as grim as it has been today, I’ve no excuses.
Oh, and I’ll get the Oxfam quiz questions up too. That was last night. I had a lot of fun.