I awoke to a sparkling chilly autumn day with the sun bright and low in the sky. With most of the shops closed the streets were quiet, it was like living in Penzance in 1949. Even the food shops, the greengrocers, pasty shop and the bakers were empty. I was standing outside Baker Tom’s, they’ve recently moved to a better location from further up the street, a bigger shop, somehow more inviting. They are one of those independent quality homemade shops that the supermarkets started to wipe out from the sixties into the seventies. As I’d been given that lovely sourdough loaf yesterday by Arnaud at the pool, I went in there and enquired about buying another one or perhaps even making it a regular thing. The lady inside described different sizes of loaves, different blends, different shapes and in the end said, “You know what, we’re closing soon, take this to try it” and she gave me another large sourdough loaf – that’s two in two days as gifts. I must visit the Ferrari garage.
Today was an exciting day because Olivia and I were making our first trek out of the town limits together for over eight months. Today is the first day of lockdown so I’m sure you are wondering where on earth we could be going that is this exciting. You got it! Sainsbury’s! The giant supermarket just outside town. I’ve never been there before – so double thrill.
The truth is that to get there we had to walk through the town, past the harbour and The Scillonian, the boat that goes to The Scilly Isles. Then past the train station and to the footpath that winds along the shoreline and comes to the bridge that crosses the railway line to the shop. The path is parallel to the railway line and we looked longingly at the trains coming in and out of the station.
As we walked along the shore St. Michael’s Mount stood out in the bay, the visibility was crystal clear, we could almost see past the horizon. The sea was a dark metallic blue and the waves crashed against the huge rocks below us. Seagulls and cormorants were flying in threes and fours in the clear sky. Some birds were on the beach, one of them jumping headfirst into the waves and preening itself, it looked like great fun. The sun was behind us, bright and warm in contrast to the chill by the sea. It was sinking lower by the minute and our walk from the town to the shop was about half an hour, we’d make it there with the sun up but not on the way back.
At one point the pathway leads you to the beach and we walked down onto the sand and to the water’s edge. There were clumps of seaweeds, small pebbles and ripples carved by the water into the expanse of beach. The waves here only trickled in, not so high, there was no real wind, just a breeze. The sea’s personality changes every day and today was calm acceptance of the autumn temperatures and the dying sun. We are constantly looking out to sea, hoping to spot a seal or a sea monster, perhaps a mermaid but the mysterious depths did not give away any of its secrets.
We shopped, we bought our favourite veggie treats and I got to experience this massive shop on the outskirts of town so far away from Baker Tom’s in concept. On the walk back into town, the sun had dropped behind the houses leaving a fading orange glow and increasing the level of the chill. We stopped off at the station ticket office to ask them about buying tickets for December 3rd, only refundable if we buy the expensive ones. It will cost us £70 each to leave here – if we can.
All the while that we were exploring the autumn, Dare was in mixing Arctic Lake. He had a lot of technical things to do so I left him to it. When we got to the studio he was still at it, sitting glued to the same seat where I left him. I had to go out again almost immediately to pick up some records from the post office, the new Carla Bruni, the new Flaming Lips and the reissue of Metrobolist aka The Man Who Sold The World, the Tony Visconti 2020 remix, plus a new translation of Camus’ Reflections On The Guillotine, an essay from his notebooks, I’ve read it before but by buying this new version it took me over the threshold for the postage costs.
I got back to the studio in time for a sesh with Brian in New Jersey and Dare left whilst I was engaged in that and left me a CD of Mix 1. I watched some Europa League football, Leicester vs Braga, they won comfortably at 4-0 but considering Braga are from Portugal who should we be supporting? I did French lessons in my new Obsidian League, the competition to stay in this league is tougher. We watched a naff episode of Californians In Space and life rolls quickly on and in these times we simply have to make the most of it.
Music today comes from Lamb and their latest album The Secret Of Letting Go (2019). It’s a wonderful mix of organic electronics, real songs, excellent singing and beautiful production. The band is a duo – Andy Barlow and Lou Rhodes with both of them programming, she is on guitars and bass, he is on keyboards and percussion and bass, she sings, he produces (he produced five songs on U2’s Songs Of Experience). They write the songs together and Rhodes writes the lyrics. She has a memorable voice, dark and evocative, a cross between Peter Gabriel as a woman, Kate Bush and an evil nun. Occasionally her FKA Twigs side comes out both in voice and in style but that’s the electronic connection. Perhaps some of the more punchy electronic aspects of this record might not be to everyone’s taste but the atmospheric and the singing side is so appealing. To me, it’s what Radiohead are unsuccessfully attempting all the time, too self-conscious, not quite making it as good as it should be. I just read that Thom Yorke once said “Rock Music sucks”, well so does Electronic music if it’s not working. I can never understand why people can’t see that there is bad music in their genre and good music in genres they don’t like – duh! Your brilliant innovative ideas don’t always come off and sometimes hoary old concepts surprise you.
If you want to hear a great contemporary album that incorporates song, electronics, atmosphere, skills and talent, depth, accessibility and a successful realisation of a musical goal, then welcome. Note – there’s three lovely acoustic (piano) versions as extra tracks on the deluxe edition.