In your dreams
Tom Ravenscroft finds musicians of all genres taking a collective nap.
Things have been getting pretty spaced out recently. Lots of musicians seem to have become trapped in their own dreams. For now, I'm quite enjoying it, but I am already wondering who is going to take it upon themselves to come and wake them all up. You'd think that, in the current global crisis, music - as it has done in the past - would be kicking off a bit; maybe reflecting the anger and frustration felt by so many of the same younger generation that is generally responsible for creating new and interesting noises. Instead, current releases seem to be helping me run away to a much nicer place.
The dreams I've been enjoying most are often set somewhere on the west coast of America - it's warm and it feels a bit 1980s, there's not a care in the world . . . it's kind of hazy. In one of the deepest and most comforting sleeps of all are the acts to be found on the NNA record label from the US, which I suspect might secretly be the distribution arm of the BFG. This would go some way to explaining why they thought it would be cool - and not in any way annoying - to distribute their albums only on cassette. I don't own a cassette player and neither, it would appear, does the BBC. So every time I receive one of these newly captured dreams, I have to borrow my friend's mum's car in order to be able to listen to it. The escape, though, is worth it.
Ken Seeno's album Breezy Moment is one of my favourite of their releases. It is pretty much a whole day out within a dream, with tunes about breezes, oceans, playing golf, sunsets and eventually saying goodbye. My days out are never this good and so I'm very happy to just keep reliving Ken's. On the same label is Co La's new album Daydream Repeater, the work of Matthew Papich, a Baltimore songwriter. It's a slightly more tropical, incoherent and intense hideout, but again worthy of an hour spent sitting in the car.
Away from the NNA label, whose brand of dreams is a hugely pleasant one, musicians and labels across all of the US and Europe seem to
be recording and distributing often very beautiful but actually quite bland albums. Current releases would suggest that, on the whole, no one is very angry or inspired by much, which can't possibly be true. There are lots of good box sets of old music around at the moment and a fair number of new bands capable of recreating the sounds from them. But I can't survive on that alone.
Even the assertive and hugely diverse world of dance music, in which the UK has been pre-eminent for the past few years, has gone strangely peaceful. Records seem to be being produced from the confines of nice warm baths. Many of them are brilliant, but at some point I'd like to jump about a bit. Across all music genres, everyone seems to be taking a collective nap.
I don't mind if everyone has just decided to become seasonal - this is what autumn sounds like, after all. My only hope is that, come spring, a big noisy wave of something new comes and wakes us all up with a bang.
Tom Ravenscroft's radio show is on BBC 6 Music every Friday at 9pm