Archive for the ‘SWANS: Sacrifice and Transcendence’ Category

There are some hard lives out there. I’m always appreciative of how lucky I’ve been in life – without ever using it as a complacent reason to say “this is good enough, no further, no more.” There always seems to be a pull in much dialogue about the world to either say things are awful, or things aren’t bad – my view is things don’t have to be awful to believe that we can look to the future and say we can make it better. I dislike hysteria on the one hand, and defeatism on the other. It seems to be a very British trait sometimes to declare everything to be crap (all politicians, all business, all of the left/right wing, all classes, all people…) as a defensive posture in which an individual gives themselves permission to not engage, not get involved, not even try. Ah well!

In the nice things of my current year – are we really a third of the way through it already? – I was invited to write an entry for the exhibition catalogue accompanying Chris Gollon: Beyond The Horizon, an exhibition at Huddersfield Art Gallery running from 5 October 2019 to 11 January 2020. My connection to Gollon’s work arose directly from the Thurston Moore book We Sing A New Language. Gollon was one of the invited artists who took part in the ROOT project of 1998 and, interviewing him, I was enthralled by the way he spoke of his creative process, the way ideas merged and combined within an overall work – stellar stuff. One thing led to another, David Tregunna – Gollon’s friend and manager – was kind enough to invite me to a showing in London where Eleanor McEvoy performed pieces from her album Naked Music which was entwined with artworks from Gollon…And at the end of the evening I headed off having agreed I wanted to buy an artwork and the connection continued. My only regret is I was trying to be so polite and respectful of Gollon’s time that I didn’t go over and say hi – a chance I’ve lost forever more, a true shame.

Nick Soulsby, Thurston Moore & ‘House of Sleep’

Friday I depart for Lisbon for a long overdue few days away from work where I’ll sit in sunshine, work on the upcoming book on Lydia Lunch – and attend the premiere of Marco Porsia’s movie SWANS: Where Does A Body End?

I’ve seen several cuts of the movie over the past couple years and it’s been amazing watching the shaping and crafting that goes into it, the multiple dimensions being taken into account, the energy that Marco has had to put into it. The other amazing thing has been to see a film that many times and always be enthralled – there’s just so much great material, the story is compelling, the way it’s been constructed is hard to turn away from. I’m really looking forward to see it on the big screen on Friday evening. A week later I’ll then attend the showing in Brussels. Keep watching, lot more showings to come:

https://www.wheredoesabodyend.com/new-events

I’ve also been invited to attend the Pop Kultur Festival in August in Berlin – my first ever visit to the city and, typically, my friend who lives there is going to be trekking in Bavaria! I’ll be taking part in a panel at the festival then giving a workshop on oral history and music – really looking forward to putting the work in ready for that.

homepage 2019

Another odd link back to We Sing A New Language came when Oltrarno Recordings got in touch to ask if I would be willing to take a look at Massimo Farjon Pupillo’s first solo album. The answer was a definite yes. I’ve seen Massimo’s work in ZU – love that band – and he’s been a regular collaborator with numerous groups and individuals inhabiting the ‘out there’ realms of music. Glad I did look at it, two gargantuan twenty minute compositions plus a cover of the always beautiful All The Pretty Little Horses:

https://www.popmatters.com/massimo-farjon-pupillo-review-2635385964.html

I also took time to go back through my front-to-back catalogue of Sunn O))), definitely one of my favourite bands of all time. Life Metal, pleasant, definitely nowhere near as glorious as Monoliths & Dimensions – ‘Alice’ is an immaculate composition.

https://www.popmatters.com/sunn-o-life-metal-review-2635722537.html

Anyways, it’s an honour to get the chance to encounter the people and their works – constant delight.

 

 

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https://www.scenepointblank.com/features/regular-columns/guest-column-nick-soulsby-let-sun-come/

Loren and the team at Scene Point Blank were kind enough to let me provide a rambling description of the kinds of thoughts that motivate me when looking at music, musicians, books, life in general – then to point to why I feel SWANS and Michael Gira are so unique in this respect.

Page two offers some cheerful easy-listening tunes to accompany thought time this afternoon. Viva Swans!

 

 

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/new-books-network/e/58779912

This was a bit of an honour and a pleasure. An author called Steve Naish caught me late last year and inquired whether I was open to being interviewed for the New Books Network (it’s also available on iTunes.)

Always a pleasure to have a conversation with someone: as a basic philosophy, I think humans require input in order to process it into meaningful or worthwhile output. That seems simplistic (it is) but what I mean is all the time in the world sitting in a room dreaming and musing doesn’t add up to anything compared to the momentum created by external stimuli and impetus. One would think that writing was a solitary business, something one did alone, but I think it’s swifter and more productive when it involves other people day by day to keep it moving and give something to play with or push against.

Steve’s most recent work is Riffs And Meaning: Manic Street Preachers and Know Your Enemy. It immediately appealed to me personally because, on the first dubbed cassette of Nirvana I ever heard, way back in 1993, the space at the end of Side B had been filled with two Manics songs: ‘Vision Of Dead Desire’ and ‘You Love Us’. Killer tunes. But then I dived so completely into American music that I lost track of them altogether. Worse, MTV played that fecking awful ‘Design For Life’ song over and over for an entire summer of my teenhood and I couldn’t bring myself to touch the band. A few belated attempts to return to The Holy Bible never really picked up pace…

…Which is where I’ve been verrrrrry pleased to find this book and gain a context that made me want to go back and look over Manic Street Preachers. There’s something about reading passionate words and analysis that makes me look again with fresh eyes – gets me every time.

https://headpress.com/product/riffs-and-meaning/

https://www.outsideleft.com/main.php?updateID=1593

In fun stuff, Outside Left’s ‘Nick Soulsby Week’ finished with a piece on my five most hated records. Surprises? Probably not. Radiohead! Foo Fighters! One Mogwai album! Nicki Minaj’s latest letting me down! Then, my worst of all-time is definitely that horrendous ‘Duets’ album they released a few years after the death of The Notorious BIG. Bleugh. It’s nice to think of one’s worst rather than one’s best, to have to explain and justify why such a visceral reaction. Hope it amuses. Could I have made it ten? I think it would have taken work to make it to ten! My feeling is it takes a lot to make something worthy of dislike rather than just ‘nothing’. There are a lot of nothing records out there, a lot of music that just ain’t for me but it’s fine if someone else wants it (re: I missed the entirety of The Smashing Pumpkins’ career and trying to look back it just made me shrug)…Hate takes some work.

I would add The Weekend’s album Starboy on in a heart beat – I think it’s the most disappointing thing I’ve listened to ever – but I didn’t want to repeat myself for Outside Left!

http://www.wordsandguitars.co.uk/2016/12/the-weeknd-starboy/

Swans_Classic Rock Review_Dec 2018

Nice to the David Stubbs review in December’s issue of Classic Rock – a neat and to the point hundred words though I was a bit surprised to see Jarboe brushed over as merely Gira’s “ex-lover”…I mean…Jeez. Jarboe did say to me that she was antagonised by rock press tendency to reduce female artists who happen to go out with another musician or to be in a band with another musician, to simply appendages connected to the ‘real artist’ (who must, of course, be the male) – I know there’s a limited number of words available but it still felt like an unnecessarily reductionist description of Jarboe especially in the context of a book that makes clear what a vast power she was within Swans.

 

Outside Left_Nick Soulsby Week_Nov 5, 2018

https://www.outsideleft.com/main.php?updateID=1592

Just posted at Outside Left today – a brief account of some of the incident and amusement of the 1986 Swans tour. So much of what Swans was at it’s peak and was to become was becoming clear at this point – sound palette expanding, interest in dynamics overcoming the pure interest in brutality, the ongoing experiments in the potential of volume as a sonic experience, Jarboe’s arrival as a key component of what Swans ‘was’…

Speaking at the Louder Than Words Festival in Manchester at 10am tomorrow morning so good night and all the best.

Outside Left_Nick Soulsby Week_Nov 5, 2018

https://www.outsideleft.com/

The charming crew over at Outside Left (https://www.outsideleft.com/about.php) are hosting a week of interviews, book extracts and random thoughts drawn from my mind…Which is nice. I really enjoyed the ‘personal worst albums ever list’ as a thought exercise (yes, I put Mogwai and Foo Fighters on it), and it was fun teasing out another book extract exclusive, plus interviews can be very enjoyable – they just rely on an openness to being an honest and questions that have had some energy committed to them. The nervousness a lot of people have now about being confronted, I’m not a fan, I think everyone reads better and comes across better when there’s a humanity and on-the-spot realness to what they’re expressing.

Hope it’ll entertain and a big thank you to Paul for proposing it!