Friday, 12 May 2017

DBH/Ell Sol/Swir PodReview April/May 2017

I don’t like being interviewed, but I like conversing.  I’m not much of a fan of interviewing either, but I really like conversing.  The PFR podcast has given me the opportunity for lots of talk with people I know and like, and some people I don’t know but do end up liking, so that’s good. 
In this month’s instalment, you can hear me talking to DBH and Ell Sol, ahead of their performance at Roll For The Soul in Bristol…

The lads arrived in Bristol and headed straight to Studio 1 (Tom’s house), fresh from the Manchester leg of their tour.  DBH is known to the PFR crew as Dan (Big Dan if you’d like to add some character, flesh it out a bit) – Ell Sol was unknown to us, but was touring with Dan.  (Ell Sol is known to his mother and the government as Joan (pronounced a bit like Juan, but with a slightly harder ‘J’.  Not properly hard, as in ‘job’, but not like an ‘h’, as in Spanish.  Somewhere in between.  Maybe.)  I probably didn’t manage to say it right once, but I tried.  It’s Catalan, if you’d like to know.)
We (that’s FryDog and I, the podcast presenters, and our tech maven, PJ) recorded the lads playing a song each, and then I did a sort of interview that I hoped would be more like a conversation.  I thought it went alright.  Both performances were lush.  It’s always a great with live music atmosphere in a small room like that, and the lads sounded beautiful.
On the way to the show, I tell Tom that I hope lots of people come – and then qualify this by adding that I hope some people come and are very quiet and respectful of the fact that these are two extraordinary artists who should be heard, with “should” used in both the practical and moral sense.
I needn’t have worried, it seems.  The night began with support from Swir, who sings in (at least) five different languages, at least some (perhaps all) of which, she doesn’t speak.  She likes the idea of singing words she doesn’t understand, and I rather like it too.  Swir sings these multi-lingual pieces accompanied with electronic swirls and samples, and I asked FryDog aobu it.  He has experiences of using this kind of equipment and I don’t.  We agreed that there’s no difference in skill between making/playing music that way and the more tactile feel of an acoustic instrument, but I opine that it’s more difficult to see what the player is doing.  I always wonder what people are doing with those machines, but the best bet is just to listen to the results, I suppose.  Everything is judged by results, isn’t it?  (Except elections AMIRITE?! #satire)
Anyway, Swir’s set was the kind of pleasant surprise you can only experience by leaving the house and seeing live music, so, even though I would never ever presume to tell you what to do, or even suggest what you should do, you should definitely do that.
After that opening set, we also discuss the phenomenon of easily-available music, and the absolute torrent of new stuff that can be easily accessed on, um, torrent sites and the like.  I admitted to FryDog that I have been listening to a lot of new music (having spent previous years not making the effort), the kind people have heard of, and that I find most of it disappointing (or worse).  Especially a lot of new rap.  I really really don’t want to be one of those people that says things like “Hip Hop was perfected around 1992-4, everyone since is wasting their/our time”, but….I have no way to finish that sentence.  (Everyone becomes what they hate eventually, don’t they?)
Some of the rap albums of this century that I’ve checked recently are alright, mind.
Next up is our man DBH (Dan The Man, if you’re looking for some standard introduction schtick).  He plays instrumental guitar pieces.  His fingers are long and dextrous, his demeanour charactreristically quiet and laid-back.  The sound of the nylon-string guitar is beautiful in the right hands, isn’t it?  Dan’s hands. 
There is so much melody, so much more than you would have expected from acoustic guitar instrumentals, played on a battered old classical guitar.  (I would know better.  From experience.)
At one point Dan (Big Tall Dan, if you like) mentions that all the new songs he’s playing don’t have names yet.  “So, if anyone’s got any ideas, come and speak to me afterwards – not you, Clayton.”
I feigned the necessary outrage.  (It was a reference to my proclivity for song/album/band names, which is famed through the interland/countrynet/webside.)
FryDog finds the whole set very moving.  The performance is moving, especially the climax – a sumptuous version of Tracks Of My Tears, a track which has me…well, you know.  Close, at least.
After Dan’s set, FryDog and I engaged in a spirited discussion about my A Thousand Brilliant Band Names art project (famed throughout my brain).  He contended that they are definitely not all Brilliant, and wondered aloud about the purpose of the thing.  I countered that they bloody well are all brilliant and that there’s a kind of logic to the flow of it, and that anyway, that’s not the point.  And that it’s art, maybe the point is ineffable/unknown.  (So, basically, I refused to be drawn on what The Point actually was/is.)
It went roughly like this:
“But there’s a sort of rhythm to it, it waxes and wanes….”
“It doesn’t wax.”
We’re still friends, it’s fine.
Having met Ell Sol earlier that day, I knew what to expect from his set, to some extent.  From our conversations in/before/after the podcast recording, I knew that he treats the microphone as a non-essential focal point.  I told him about my old pal Men Diamler, who does the same, sometimes going as far as to ignore microphones completely and stomp around the room, taking the game to the opposition in spectacular fashion. 
Ell Sol means “The sun” in Catalan, a language outlawed in Catalunya as few as forty years ago.
So, his set would have been illegal, sung as it is entirely in Catalan.  (Yes, that’s right.  Illegal to sing in Catalan in Catalunya.  Bloody colonials – who’d ever be so oppressive as to outlaw the native la – oh, right.)
The set itself was enjoyable – it wasn’t as wild as it might have been, but it was full of passion and some experimentation, as well as lush melody. 
Considering how much I enjoy words, it’s cool to see a whole gig with virtually no words I understand emanating from the performances – instrumentals, and songs in languages I can’t understand.  (Yo no hablo idiomas, por que bengo de un pais ignorante. Perdoner me.)
At the end of the night, as we waited for the lads, FryDog asked how I will vote.  I rambled without revealing, then told him I will probably vote the way he probably thinks I will.
On reflection:
Childish Gambino’s album Camp is pretty good, especially the last song.
FryDog accepted the artistic value of the 1000 Band Names Project.
I will probably vote the way FryDog probably thinks I will.
I could perhaps be more clear at times, take a position.  It probably wouldn’t kill me.  As such.
Having studied The Headmaster Ritual, Dan (Dandandancerman, if you like.  I do, as it goes) accepted that Johnny Marr “is a god after all”.
In conclusion:
The podcast is available now, here.  Have a listen, won’t you?  It’s jolly good fun.

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