Thursday, 15 May 2008

PORTISHEAD: Machine Gun


"Stars open among the lilies.
Are you not blinded by such expressionless sirens?
This is the silence of astounded souls."
(SP, from "Crossing The Water," composed 4 April 1962)

...blind, blind, blind, blind, blind...

There have been other machine guns. But the Brotzmann one wasn't just about May '68 and turning the gaff over to the beach; its original sleevenotes refer explicitly to the '68 Germany of unresolved, craterised bombsites, of concentration camp museums, of a consequent generation saddled to the point of spinal collapse with guilt. The pressing siren of need to create something new out of the elements of destruction.

The Hendrix one, a year later, not just about 'Nam, but looking askance and aghast at what might happen to those of his boys who survive and what kind of society they'll be coming back to and isn't this the preparatory ruination which will haunt that generation of unearned consequence?

Narrowing down, down, ever down into the era of Me (not my Me, you understand) when all the beacons have had their blaze extinguished or compromised - and is there any useful difference in the end? - to an age where one is forced to look through oneself rather than look after others because others will always betray you at either end...

...but also back to a ghost older than her great grandmother...

"I saw a saviour

a saviour come my way

I thought I'd see it

at the cold light of day

but now I realise that I’m

Only for me"

...a working woman's Bristol Channel blues...

...and yet also as young as any daughter would be...

Consider the video to Britney Spears' 2004 number one single "Everytime," also the last formal track on its parent album In The Zone (zone nature unspecified), wherein her prayer is contorted into the smallest and reddest possible corner - the bathtub, the blood - but still suggests escape; a child, angel as child, ANGEL OF ASHES...

(always coming back to HIM, too...)

...which on the album sounds the least reversible ending since Closer but she doesn't quite die even as her radar detaches itself from her bodily grief and rises to meet the absolute.

Is her grief, therefore, necessarily any the lesser in validity than those of others?

And can she still see the ANSWER?

"If only I could see

You turn myself to me

and recognise the poison in my heart

There is no other place

No one else I face

The remedy, it will agree with how I feel"


"Here in my reflecting...

What more can I say?"

She knows the answer is in front of her but cannot quite grasp it and thus these tortuously huge barriers of defence; a guillotined "Blue Monday," humid hammers of call and response between two drum patterns which might once have been people - the buried voice which emerges when drum pattern 1 (hammer on snare anvil) doubles up in strength halfway through (GET ME OUT OF HERE!) though the scan of titular drum pattern 2 remains unrelenting...

A confessional tango, a ballad which Veloso or Gilberto could have written before life and loss did things to it (thus marvel all the more at the former's retained composure as all else falls down around them).

Confessional -

"For I am guilty for the voice that I obey

Too scared to sacrifice a choice

Chosen for me."

THERE ARE FIVE STAGES OF LOSS, IT SAYS SO IN THE MANUAL, FOLLOW THEM AND YOU WILL BE FREE OR YOUR MONEY BACK

ESCALATED HILLS of trombones as sirens, basses shifting out of synch and tone, bombarding cascades of miniscule hailstones bouncing off or maybe radiating through the inadequate hood of cover DO YOU REALLY WANT TO STAY HERE

THIS IS YOUR WORLD!
I AM YOUR WORLD!

"And I could say nothing because I was as guilty as they were."

(Mingus, after Pastor Niemoller)

STOP

Scratches of misrecorded memory

And then RESTART

But your wings have been SAVED

A warm synthesiser enters - the tone of the melody remains relatively harsh in its metallic melancholy, but it is doing its ardent best to clear the smoke from the victim's eyes to look, to see

RAT-AT-AT-AT TAT-AT-AT-AT!!!

The smoke clears.

The choice is mine.


Out of the elements of destruction, salvation.

End of world deferred until further notice.

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