Thursday, 19 June 2008

THOMAS FEINER AND ANYWHEN: Yonderhead


"...the point of life is now...the point of life, for now..."


It originally came out in 2001, The Opiates, and it seems that practically everyone missed it, but then it wasn't quite finished; a band which had been a band but had gradually, if amicably, trickled out of existence and Feiner had to sort the art out himself but then he did have the Warsaw Symphony Orchestra to hand, just in case he might get encased in unending nothingness. Much was lost or missing or missed in 2001.


But then it was found, and quietly marvelled at, and eventually he turned back, or sideways, or forward, and completed the necessary heartstrokes; and now it gets a proper (if still lateral) release and is conveyed to me. How to describe the thing that was Anywhen? From the available evidence (since I have yet to hear their previous duo of albums), let's conjure an a-ha who went a little deeper, grew a crucial bit older, who slowed down and let out what might once have been steam but was now melancholy streams of selected low-grade colours; the opening "The Sirens Song" petals forth a tremendous, steady crescendo of purpling power and purpose with both orchestra and group crashing through cosmos to find themselves in the rosier end of the opium pipe from which a Beaton-captured set of the original Cocteau twins are absorbing on the cover; the closing "All That Numbs You" bears the procedurals of U2 ceremony but is careful not to declaim its interior turbulence too brashly.


In between there is - what? A voice which undoubtedly must have attracted, in its rich quiver and petrified reassurance, Mr Sylvian (since he was the original album's finder and retriever); the skidable depth of the longly smouldering "Dinah & The Beautiful Blue" recalls brilliant trees grown into a febrile forest of anti-motion. Even when Anywhen "rock" ("Mesmerene") it is rock of the strobe-lit Moby Dick Rehearsed staggering ship type; nothing is totally in focus, the beat's tension crumbles if you try to sit atop it; Feiner ends the song by thrashing himself with the "into my arms" refrain as though to drowse his burning building of a brain. "Toy," meanwhile, is deeply disturbing; a lucidly conversant debate between woodwinds underscored by distant electronic scrapes, squeaks and semi-refrains unspeakable - the woodwork squeaks, and out come...at other times it is the Blue Nile transposed to Feiner's hometown of Gothenburg; the extraordinary, deliriously delicate "Betty Caine" rallentandos almost to the point of there not being a point.


There are two more recent songs - which act as the belated finishing touches - one of which, "For Now," gathers up the scattered cartilages of life, resigns itself to their eventual fate and proceeds forth with rare nobility. The other, "Yonderhead," is the album's masterpiece, an intimately blossoming cry of reclaiming life, from its distorted (or bedroom) piano and introductory plucked strings, while two flanks of brushed percussion (and subtle string instrument bridges) scrape their footsteps like angels washing their feet in the attic. Gradually all rises into place; low strings, fuzzy synth, feedback. and the deep sea whale of his voice: "My spine and leverage were not mine" which soon rises to a mid-pitch prayer: "Pick me up - animate me - render me - take me back to the ghosts of the day" - which then turns more passionate a plea: "Lend me a life - put me in a loooooooooooop (he sings that loop as though balancing precariously on the topmost outside rim of the London Eye) again," a "define" which encompasses eight syllables just as the strings begin to widen out across the becalmed panorama, the 'celli becoming increasingly forceful as Feiner asks to be hooked up and ignited with a ghost.


Then two minutes or so of the crucial transition; piano which debates with strings, which in turn turn dense to the point of breakthrough atonality; a wordless voice, hanging on that extended "L" labial for the dearest of lives before swerving back into determined focus: "...llllllllllllLLLLEND me a life!" Finally, connected and transforming, he hums of liberties and hopes, but is he really free? "Bind me - and I'll walk the pretty path." In other words, leap off the tightrope and trust me, for I happen to be the leaper. Seven minutes and 52 seconds after it began, you have to unpack your soul, for fear of missing it.