She Can't Come Down 3:570:00 / 3:57
ABOUT THE MUSIC
A CONCISE HISTORY of JOY began because I was hearing a kind of electronic pop in my imagination that I couldn’t find in the real world. It was synth pop, but it was punchy and raw and buzzy and bombastic, whereas everything new I was listening to was chill and dreamy and drenched in syrupy reverb, or hard but glossy with production polish. I wanted the groove and attitude of 70’s glam and the big beat euphoria of 90’s electro, with lyrics that could be camp and sinister and insightful and absurd all at the same time (or at least happily die trying) . . . and for all of it to be beaten to a pulp by a gang of relentlessly pummelling cranky-old-low-bit-floppy-disk-eating-80’s-industrial drum machines. So I made it. It's dark, heavy, electronic, pop.
Constant stupid musings sowed the seeds of this sound in my brain. Musings like, where might popular electronic music have gone if we had skipped over the 80’s? What if in ‘74 we’d locked away Marc Bolan and Kraftwerk in a studio for the next decade, free from the coming radio assault influences of Mutt Lange and Stock, Aitken, Waterman? Of course we’d regularly throw them in some curry and drugs and every new sequencer, drum machine and synthesizer as they were invented and released. What would they have made by ‘84? Maybe in '75 we sequester Iggy Pop with Tangerine Dream (perhaps without the drugs)? What would come of Robert Smith and Skinny Puppy? The Sisters of Mercy and Carl Cox? Tears for Fears and Front 242? Brian Ferry and Ministry? (Probably homicide.) Or what if a young Al Jourgensen had simply never picked up a guitar? (Oh to dream!)
(There was a lot I liked about early industrial and EBM, but it soon showed a preference to cross pollinate with metal. They seemed to share a bond over a particular flavour of belligerent, adolescent, masculine resentment which I’ve never gelled with. And most of the singers quickly developed a need to mimic imaginary gargoyle and demon voices - something else that never worked for me. So I guess early Front 242 and Ministry’s Twitch came closest to my aesthetic preferences, but only rarely did I gel with the songs themselves . . . But shit, I digress.)
There have also been rare tracks, usually among the forgotten and fragmented outliers of a group’s work, that hint at what could be. Just listen to how those raw drums assault you on the 12” B-side version of A Man Could Get Arrested by The Pet Shop Boys; it sounds downright industrial before Neil Tennant’s elegant, silky, caviar vocals enter and so beautifully and unexpectedly contrast the established harshness. Of course TPSB would quickly go on to sign for Parlophone, see some real production funds, and by the release of their first LP the synths and drums were produced to be as cultured as Tennant’s vocals. It was a match made in heaven and the charts rejoiced. But the contradiction was gone. And I love contradictions.
Maybe my foray into Brutalist Pop was simply inevitable. I had to do something with all the drum sounds I had long been sampling and mangling . . . all those 2nd British Invasion melodies slinking around my brain . . . and all the words I had begun to combine absurdly and honestly and vividly into some splintered shards of my story. So does my music answer the questions above? Of course not. But the wondering sparks an idea, a phrase, a lyric, that then goes on to grow into a song and in the process becomes an answer to its own question . . . which is exactly what every song should do.
(Note: there will be no songs about "Tonight" unless they involve touching James Murphy.)
ABOUT THIS WEBSITE (AND MY ONLINE PRESENCE IN GENERAL)
Making music is one of my few great joys in life. Unfortunately the business of making music is full of conceits, compromises and vexations. They can quickly add up to death by a thousand humiliations (the West’s preferred interpretation of a classic Chinese torture). I seek to dodge and deny these derogations as much as possible so as not to fall out of love with music making. But I will not be dogmatic with my abstentions. I’ll pick and choose when and how I acquiesce to their cons and enticements. Today this simply means that I’m not impersonating my non-existent publicist by referring to myself in the third person. I don’t have a publicist. I don’t want one . . . (I doubt they would want me.)
(So as not to be misconstrued I should make clear that I’m not against artifice. From the beginning artifice has been one of the most joyous tools of the pop jongleur. But there’s small “a” artifice in the service of capital “T” truth, and there’s small “t” truth in the service of capital “A” artifice. It frequently seems that only the most ridiculous among us have grasped this.)
Getting specific, I’ve had it with photos. Enough already. Every other group you listen to is inundating you with a constant barrage of photos. It’s embarrassing. Yeah sure, I’m an artists too and I wear funny clothes and work hard at looking intense, or bored, or stoned. I know you already get it. With a couple thousand images rammed down your eye sockets every single day how could you not get it? I hope to spare your corneas more abuse. For now anyway. Yet, for those beautiful souls kind enough to want to write about my music I have made available a few pics to ornament these endorsements (or slanders). For everyone’s sake I’ve muted them as much as is possible whilst still being able to call them photos. No bright and saturated images of me with my new, round sunglasses and wide brimmed hat is going to hysterically leap out at you screaming look at me!!! Instead you’ll see a black square, and if you choose to look further, I’m in there in the shadows, (wearing a fake smile or playing a MIDI guitar that’s not plugged into anything). A week from now I could rediscover my love of photos and suddenly plaster my Instagram and this site with a fresh flock of attention seeking pics. Your corneas be damned! Time will tell.
And what is the point of this whole website anyway (except to provide me a forum in which I can apologize for it)? The music you can find on Spotify, Soundcloud, or Bandcamp, etc. . . . predictable tribal signalling on Instagram and Twitter (if they ever unlock my account). Is it all just a lot of window dressing for an old school mailing list signup? The truth is, I don’t know. I am curious that it might make itself known over time. But I doubt it.