Wednesday, 2 July 2008


The knowledge of connection, yet the feeling that you've been cocooned in a separate but not displeasing world; "Disconnected" is ideal Sunday morning Walkman (or, if you must - I don't have to - iPod) listening for wandering around Chelsea Harbour. Four slabs of Faust sound undergoing manipulation under Stapleton anaesthetic, and where, say, "Lass Mich" is a thirteen-minute spring of custard pie devant-rock (a Hendrix to the Monkees of the Stereolab/NWW collaboration "Simple Headphone Mind" - is it really a dozen years old? Or more? - as Stapleton dreams his own ideal radio station amidst the jangle and the throb), the title track hovers, not necessarily threateningly but unsettlingly enough to keep you on your guard through unfamiliar terrain; the broadswards of planted grass which stretch out towards the river, the ghosts of Apprentice never-will-bes proceeding through the various gated towers of residence, Battersea's new eulogy of St Mary beaming or scowling directly at me from across the water.

The melting of assertive neo-modernity against terraced streets from 1971 Blackpool; peaceful, red, talkative, communal. The lovely clash with elements which will never quite, or quietly, fit; the exceptionally reluctant mechanical arm which has to raise, grudgingly, in order for the bus to pass through the outskirts of Chelsea Harbour, a prematurely resigned village; secretaries with enterprising boyfriends lug shopping bags through the less than gloomy dawn. Steep-ish streets which lead to Lots Road or to...Lots Road (it divides in two halfway uphill, one half veering off to the right to crawl behind the World's End Estate like a snail's telescope, the other half, over a pacific canal, towards the familiar King's Road though in truth you could wander in this beige and green jungle for months; the Lots Road Power Station, Battersea's younger and smarter cousin, blinks warily as you turn the corner, brick red against ski-slip blue - a little further uproad, demolition/reconstruction work, as yet unspecified, and you can't be sure what's being knocked down and what's being built up...

There's no hum in the air (plenty of blue, though) but "Disconnected" supplies it with nosy ease; it starts off sounding like the end of "A Day In The Life" slowly regurgitating and regrouping its particles into a solid, if subdued, whole - some muttered utterances from Jean-Herve Peron about disconnection, mostly in German - and then Fennesz drone meets disqualified gable ends, disturbed ex-docklands, vaguely queasy but not quite acidic - synths give way to eternal fleet flows of hymnal organ, a drum track far off in the distance which may be a ticking ghost; and so it continues to ebb and crescent, though is in no hurry to reach a climax - a heartbreakingly semi-dissonant five-chord guitar motif (four connected, then a pause and a final full stop) floats in and out of its steely skies like an elusive kiss, now the sound fulsome and alive (where's that muted bugle coming from and does it even exist?), now transient and maybe also transparent beyond the realms of tactility; a depeopled wharf teeming with hidden life. Peron returns at the end for an observational bookend, and then and only then do the clanking shards of former industry take Christmas tree precedence, a heartbeat restored, a life renewed, and as I fade into roads King's and Fulham - and towards the long-undervisited Earl's Court, a place to which I'm habitually drawn when life looks set to start again - I once more realise that this city I've known and breathed for fully 23 years has tricked me, as always; and that I still don't really know it, but only for the purpose of the fun and joy we will have in learning, as we have to keep on doing.