Thursday, August 11, 2016
The last few blog posts were quite dark because we really live in a weird and quite disturbing time at the moment and sometimes it needs a bit of writing to process the events. When I finished the latest one though, I really felt that this was enough now and that it is time to think and write about good things again and so I do today.
To get things started lets go back in time a bit ... to the beginning of 2014. The fall / winter 2013 had been a total blast touring with the Biff for a bit and starting off what would end up being a whole new life.
The first few months of 2014 though were then painfully quiet. I remember well that from New Year's Eve to Easter I went almost nowhere. I was simply at home in Munich, went to work and lived day after day. And it was horrible. I felt like the famous black panther behind bars ... pacing day in day out. I hated it. I felt trapped and at some point I was considering to go to the airport just to smell the kerosene, the smell of freedom.
Later that year up from April / May I was back on the road including the first half a dozen trips to Scotland and it made me happy. Traveling made me happy. Yet ... I was still pacing. I always called it my nomadic blood, because l just could not sit still and be homebound - at least not without suffering.
Two years later life is very different. It is not that I do not like traveling anymore. I certainly do and there will be a LOT of touring in the second half of the year - lots of airports, hotels, gigs ... road life at its best, but there is still a big difference: I am not pacing anymore.
The place in the picture at the top of this post is called "Rest and be Thankful". It is a mountain pass in the West Highlands between Tarbet and Loch Fyne. It's a magical place and very symbolic, because that is basically what I am doing at the moment. I am resting and I am thankful.
Scotland took the nomad out of me. When I am at home I am not feeling behind bars anymore. I just feel at home.
I am not romantic and I am not wearing pink glasses. Life is still ... life .. with lots of obstacles - old and new ones. I am also still me ... with all my weaknesses and fears and insecurities. Also everything they tell you about Scottish summers is true. I gave in today and had the heating running for the better time of the day.
But still - I stopped pacing and I am enjoying the peace and quiet in me. A lot.
Ah wait! When I said, I write a happy blog post next, I also said I would write a review about "Ellipsis", didn't I? Well here it is:
This album is fucking awesome. It is everything. For the very unlikely case that you are a reader of this website and still did not buy this yet, do it now.
At a bit more differentiated note:
There are two main types of great music for me
1) music that is me - like a vital part of me. Kind of symbiotic.
2) music that is opposite me - like the best friend you need to talk through things. The person you love and trust and that you need for providing a different perspective on things than your own view
Both types are equally important but the perception is very different. I could not live without the one or the other.
Biffy were always type 1). From the very first moment of me listening to them the music they make was like a piece of myself. I cannot even explain why exactly it is like that, but it just is.
A new album of a type 1) band is a nerv wrecking experience because musicians are people and they evolve and change and there is always the risk that the evolution tiers you apart, that the emotional symbiosis gets lost.
We could hear a few songs from the new album before release and I had more than a bit hope due to those teasers that I would be fine, but nothing is replacing the process of hearing the album in one piece the first time. I did that on the radio with the BBC listening party just before release and it was great. It was such a relief because ... yep: still a piece of myself - no level of separation.
That night had also one of the sweetest moments of listening to music that I had in a good while and it came at the very end. The last song .... "In The Name Of The Wee Man" had me very literally in tears, shivering of goosebumps .. that special feeling only an extraordinary great song can give you. I am convinced this is one of the 5 best songs they ever made and it makes me god damn happy that it exists.
A few folks said that the album is less tight than the others, the songs more loosely connected and presented in a slightly odd order. I would not fight this impression. I just think a great album reflects the state of mind of the people who made it at the point of creation. And just like for all of us there are times when you kind of settle into a situation and there are times when life goes upside down. Both has good and bad sides, both are natural parts of life. The important thing is that the music is true to it. Sounds easy but is not because for that you need to be aware of yourself and strong enough to put yourself out there. I certainly feel that the Biff achieved exactly that with Ellipsis and that is why although it is technically really very different it is also still so very recognizably THEM.
Bring on Bellahouston .... MON THE BIFFY!