A music blog from Ireland.
Shortly after the announcement of an album, last week we were treated to the video for All The Houses On My Street Look The Same by Simon Bird. On Monday, the album Sport dropped – after five preliminary EPs, I have to keep reminding myself that this is Bird’s debut LP – and it’s a seven track behemoth of just under an hour’s worth of existentially effectual drone/electronic/hip hop/noise/? that delivers everything I hoped for and more.
It’s not easy to write about Simon’s music in a way that adequately conveys the sprawling structures and attention to detail inherent in each track. Sport is an exercise in stamina, with the shortest track (fantastically-named Porcelain Cat Skull Laser Eye-Beams In a Land of Impossible Geometry) clocking in at 4: 28 but the longest is triple that. It’s not the kind of malleable music that can be shoehorned into playlists for the treadmill at the gym, unless you intend to galvanise yourself into preparing for the kind of run that would involve dodging burning debris as asteroids bombard the earth. It’s a carefully segmented selection of tracks that knock into one another like dominoes, each one carrying forward a little momentum from the one that came before.
Baltimore Drowning opens with an eldritch screech but quickly moves into melodic territory with an uplifting, beat-driven central theme. All The Houses…. follows and I said last week that the video track seemed playful, and its placement seems to second that, because it’s the track with the widest appeal, easiest to get into, and least indicative of the album as a whole. Because if you base your expectations of Sport on its 10-minute backbone alone, once that track’s past the surprises come thick and fast. She Poisoned Those Boys is a skilfully-managed intermediary that balances the previous beats, lower and less obtrusively under a beguiling, glassy motif which, perhaps like a seductive poisoner, draws us in and introduces the heady drone that embodies the rising tension Simon Bird does so well. And then, we come to Collapse, Star Lung. This is hands-down my favourite track on Sport. It’s the song I heard at HWCH back in October that utterly floored me and clicked a whole set of switches into place in terms of feeling a very strong and enduring connection with the music. Its impact at that one performance stayed with me for days afterwards, and has lost none of its gravity since I’ve come into possession of the track by way of the album; each time its screaming synths almost convinced me to kill myself by ripping my heart out through my mouth: a powerful effect for one of sound mind. Thankfully the intervention of placid Druggy and the dub stylings of aforementioned Porcelain Cat Skull…. stayed my hand, because Of Witch Hunts And Water Sports has an eerily similar effect. There is no more toying by this final track: it’s deathly serious in its doom-laden intentions. By now, the listener will have noticed the overarching progression through the entire album that went from light beats to dark noise, but in this track’s midpoint, practically every suggestion on offer throughout combines majestically. I joked on Twitter that perhaps we’re hearing this album in the last few weeks of December before the world ends but half-wonder if it’s true because there’s an element of doomsday at work, like a soundtrack for the final moments of life. It finishes almost abruptly (maybe the asteroid hit – but then, Earth is made of bits of asteroids) and so in the way it leaves us hanging demands a loop play, and as such, the cycle is complete and explains the first track’s screech. This bone-chilling edification ably orchestrated by a singular mind is made all the better in the knowledge that it’s all done by ear with no laptop involved but a whole array of loopstations and other marvellous junk, and it’s so far removed from producers’ methods of soulless button-pushing that I feel he’s more than earned the distinction of one of the foremost electronic musicians based in Ireland today.
Sport is available to download now from Bandcamp on a name-your-price basis.