Thursday, 30 January 2014

Human Viscosity - A Short Tale about Human Fluid Dynamics

(This is a densely written story about density. It's left open as to its interpretation, but some may find this study of human fluid dynamics a tad unsettling, so this is a content warning. Of sorts)

Oil slicked the inner thighs. A sleek insulation coating the skin. Dampening all subsidiary neural agitation amid its cloying diffusion.

The basted skin’s temperature began to rise. The glaze slowly began evaporating as it was warmed from beneath.

But the grease also served to adhere the tissue to the abrasive material of the bare mattress, as it gently tugged the hairs and skin into its coarse embrace. Such suctioning choked the swaddled suspension of sensation, returning the body to an awareness of its proneness.

The fumes of the unguent engulfed the olfactory system. The brain was firing frenziedly as the liquid slither leavened the weight of the body where it was in contact with the mattress, while the unrestricted flesh was surfeited beneath the clamp of the dense liquid.

The oil was continuing to cede the surface, as it either seeped in through the pores in the epidermis, or percolated the mattress where the leg abutted the fabric. Goosepimple promontories rose to signal the balefire of a tremulous chill invading the body in its wake.

With the unctuous cladding duly degraded, the body’s water table was on the rise once again. Stopped up previously, the pores hadn’t been able to respire, so their tributaries had turned tail and seethed inside. Stretching the integument tight under its tamped swell, the humectation buffeted and surged against the subcutaneous membrane, as if trying to dissolve its dam. Now finally the moisture could muster, cohering into beads of perspiration. Like paratroopers awaiting the green light, they blistered and twitched at the aperture of each of the numerous glands. Finally with the surface tension now as unbearable as the mental discomposure brewing up the effluvium, they absconded. Distended globules forging their cooling runnels down the glistening flesh. Some fell prey to the tangled follicle foliage and became fatally snared. Others were beached upon impermeable vestiges of the oil. But the surviving sapper drops achieved their mission and delivered localised alarum to the recoiling flesh. Each one was eventually picked off as it evaporated, leaving only a dirty salt sediment smearing the quaking skin like dried up stream beds.

The next pressure was far more parochially located. It had been present from the onset, but displaced by other deeper piercing insistencies. Now its prod was pushed to the fore once homeostasis had regulated and relegated oil and sweat from bodily sentience. For this was the most regulatory flow of them all, the one customarily controlling waste. Its constriction was plenty fierce, but when the spill came there was not the anticipated spate. A dribbled exudation of urine rather than a gush. The discharge was warm against the flesh which served to exaggerate its imagined volume, but the laggardly flow rescaled its attributes back to a trickle. The acid tang corroded the mind’s levees as to an appreciation of what this flux portended. It represented an elongated tributary of fear. Its source high up in the brain’s troughs and crevices, fermented by the realisation and concomitant reflexive reaction to terror. This liquid release sirened that there was unlikely to be any such release. 

The final emission was the most viscid of them all. 

Again a bubbling up, but a reluctance to cleave from the arterial wellspring for all the seething. This serum was too thick to squeeze through the fissures of pores, but rather required greater gouges for its proliferation.

Pulsing like magma, finally the haemal weep was reluctantly birthed through a cleft canal. A rupture in the embankment of the skin.

The beads formed were more conspicuous than the previous deliquescences. They had burnished the horripilated flesh as they slicked along, whereas the globules of blood eclipsed the very skin beneath its deliberate overlay.

Nevertheless its course was laboured, meandering over the contours of flesh made salient by muscle flex, pausing at any hairy scrub like a tourist stopping at every beauty spot to take in the vista. 

Eventually the first drops of this metallic Nile forged its path to the mattress and stained it red as it pooled and washed up hard against the flesh scarp of the legs.

Taken from flash collection "28 Far Cries" available from Amazon

Saturday, 25 January 2014

A Literation - Flash Story

Children carbon copied their creators. While the physical outcomes of the genetic wheel of fortune retained a whisper of protean unpredictability, speech and acculturation remained utterly undifferentiated from that of their parents. Glossal guardians, stagnant syntactical statuary. Consummate chips off the old blocks, kids were cultivated colloquial clones.

Initially imbibing milky morphology mutely with teat-stuffed mouths at the mammary, while mum suckles safe words for them. Sat at her knee, bottled blather iterated, infused and introjected. Mounted in the high-chair of babble, being spoon-fed more solid sonant syllables minced and mashed into building brick morphemes. Until the child evidenced an incipient ability to word string sentences for himself. From there on in, the parlance predisposed, perpetually prefigured and impervious to independent importation.

Scions were unable to shuck themselves from their die cast speech stamp. They artlessly echoed the same means of articulation as their extraction. Whatever their emotional bent, which like their physical features could lie anywhere on the continuum provided by the DNA chemical crap shoot, they were devoid of the vocal means for varying its expressive pitch.

The theories of Sigmund Freud darted back for favoured diagnosis, as Oedipal dissonances were played out in the most derisory fashion, since none had the diction to defy the discourse. Juvenile abstractions might fleetingly seem unregimented, but they were soon shunted along tramlines once terminology was brought to bear to transliterate them into tangible thought. 

Bilinguals were to some extent immune. For they could slip in and out of their twin vocabularies in any manner of their choosing. Thus was their language uniquely minted beyond predictability. So radical educationalists swept aside the Sciences and even English, in order to place primacy on second languages. But the rote inculcation by lifeless textbooks proffering limp assimilations of Jean-Paul’s first day at school, or Otto writing to his pen-pal, were no less arid than the way adolescents had acceded to their own mother tongues. Fluctuating between two stuttering fluencies furnished them neither felicity nor facility. 

Yet a few whippersnappers managed to strike out on discoveries of their own that enabled them to snap their linguistic shackles. They didn’t enter such a course knowingly in a spirit of seeking to expand their verbal palettes, but merely ventured into the neglected libraries- (there were no bookshops anymore) and picked up novels to read. They were swept along the unadulterated imaginations of authors and buoyed by exposure to the words therein which cast them free of their own constricted palates. They envisioned new horizons, disinterred wonderment and evolved the means to encapsulate it in voiced reactions of their own. Then they set to work writing books to liberate the next generations that would come after them. 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Cover Versions

I've never seen the point of cover versions that just replicate the original. Then there are those cover versions that simply murder the original, check out Grace Jones and Swans' cover versions of Joy Division songs "She's Lost Control" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart" respectively.  Both make me want to rip my own ears off.

But occasionally the cover version is neither homage nor pastiche, but actually manages to improve on the original. Maybe it just has better quality of the recording. But more likely it's either more deliciously taut than the original, or perhaps more camp and reveals what was present in the original composition all along but had just got hidden.

So here's 15 of my favourite cover versions. Enjoy.

1) The Specials - Message to Rudy
The Specials did several cover versions of Ska songs, launching off with a cover of "Gangsters". But this just throbs with emotion that lifts it from the original by Dandy Livingstone whose vocals are a bit tentative.

2) The Stranglers - Walk On By
While Dionne Warwick's original is pretty damn fine, the sheer dirtiness of the bass sound and Hugh Cornwall's guttural vocals just make this a totally different song. Someone should do a mash up of the two it would be ace.

3) Flying Lizards - Money
Deborah Evans does her best Nico impression and this knocks the Beatles' original into a cocked hat. It's so basic, so stripped down, it's almost perfect pop, or anti-pop.

4) Devo - Can't Get No Satisfaction
Robot-aping geeks pleasingly lance the self-contentment of Jagger's priapic original.

5) Saint Etienne - Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Yes they were Camden Town music hipsters playing fast and loose with musical post-modern irony, but since I've always found Neil Young's voice a bit reedy, having a deliciously fragile female vocalist sing it made much more sense. Know it all pop that turns out to be just perfect pop in its own right.

6) The Klaxons - The Bouncer
Another of those rarities where I like both versions equally, but the tribal nature of the two clans, the old school dance mob who love the original versus the Nu-Rave devotees of this version go at it hammer and tong in the comments section.

7) Gun Club - My Man's Gone Now
This is the inverse of the Warwick/Stranglers scenario. For here is Nina Simone's full-bloodied original dripping with regret, hurt and a touch of bile, turned into a camp late night whisky bar song (and sung off key to boot) by one of the hardest living & rocking bands in the world. I can't get enough of it.

8) Butthole Surfers - Hurdy Gurdy Man
And then there are some that are just weird and wonderful. Donovan's original was a bit odd in its own distortion pedalled right and the Buttholes just turned that up to eleven in their hilarious version.

10) Soft Cell - Tainted Love
Marc Almond takes Gloria Jones' Motowny feel and manages to make it both seedy and full of pathos at the same time. One of the songs that perhaps shows the biggest differential between the two versions.

11) Minutemen - Have You Ever Seen The Rain
Another example of a beefier modern sound improving a slightly hollow 60's version as Creedance Clearwater Revival's genius is suggested by having so many modern bands pay tribute to them with cover versions.

12) The Clash - Armagideon Time
Even live the quality and musical noodles going on here put Willie Williams' version into the shade I'm afraid. And this was only ever a Clash B-Side!

13) Rachid Taha - Rock el Casbah
Boot on the other foot now and The Clash have one of their songs claimed in another style. This sounds somewhat more authentic somehow.

14) Tricky - Black Steel
Tricky takes a plodding Public Enemy standard and turns it into an genuinely unnerving version.

15) World Domination Enterprises - Funkytown
I can think of few songs that have so utterly had the band's stamp smeared and coated all over it like this. West London blight stamped all over a disco number by Lipps Inc. that was more likely to have been played in the clubs of the West End.

Bonus Track:
William Shatner - Mr Tambourine Man
I say bonus track.... There is always the spectre of non-singing celebs doing terrible cover versions, like Paul Gascgoine singing Fog On The Tyne. Shatner here does to pop music what he did to method acting.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Hyperbolic Songs

The Supremes, Super Furry Animals, ZZ Top, The Fab Four...

So it's a new year and there haven't been enough days yet for my usual pessimism to reassert itself over the fresh slate newness of the year. Everything's hunky dory super right? At least for another 5 minutes. So in honour of that, here's a music chart on all things exaggeratedly upbeat and optimistic.

1) Holy F*ck - Super Inuit
Even the band's name expresses a level of incredulity, but this jaunty little number fairly sweeps along. I wonder what the destination in mind was however...

2) The Fall - Fantastic Life
You just know acerbic curmudgeon Mark E Smith is laughing the other side of his face when he pens any song with "Fantastic" in the title. I once saw this live and the organ break just went on forever. It was erm fantastic...

3) Jimmy Cliff - Wonderful World, Beautiful People
Is this not the man who sung the gritty "The Harder They Come"? Whatever was he thinking? Maybe he was thinking of the royalties...

4) Mos Def - Life In Marvelous Times
Wonderful building tension in this as you think def's gonna hit you with the chorus, but just cranks the lyrical torque up some more. You can hear the disbelief in his voice when he does pronounce the title.

5) Gang of Four - Not Great Men
Post-punk feminism, as played by 4 geezers. While one welcomes the handclap on the rock record, the disturning sight of Jon King's Arsenal shirt counters any kudos going their way.

6) Public Enemy - Don't Believe The Hype
I won't if you wont... Have you noticed how this chart has veered into pessimism? From the band who's debut album claimed "Mi Uzi Weighs a Ton"

7) Jon Spencer Blues Experience - Blowing My Mind
From the man whose first band was called Pussy Galore... Everything about Swampblues is hyperbolic really. Nowt wrong with that mind.

8) The Specials - Too Much Too Young
Classic SKA, what a band. No hyperbole involved when describing them.

9) House Of Pain - Top O The Morning
Their follow up to "Jump Around". Not that good really. Plastic Paddies I'm afraid.

10) Beastie Boys - Finger Licking Good
Yes, probably that type of smutty innuendo rather than Kentucky Fried Chicken

11) Schooly D - Mr Big Dick
Um, er... Tongue firmly in his cheek... no not that cheek, get your mind out of the gutter

Bonus Track:
Lou Reed - Perfect Day
Lou Reed RIP

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Our Father - A Drabble

Behold my teenage son there. The putto. As might be represented by Lucien Freud rather than Donatello. With halo having become sullied and slipped down from above his crown so as to cincture his features in the form of a hood. The monk with his vow of silence. The black friar stewing in his own tormenting juices. Angelic features framing a demonic countenance. And yet my wife constantly counsels me not to make him break his vow. Thereby he flagellates and scourges me even without removing his hands sheathed in the pouch in his hoodie. Our father who art in Hell...

taken from the Flash Collection "28 Far Cries"

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

It's The New Thing - 10 songs about newness for the New Year

So 2014. A brand spanking new year. And yet here's me sticking to a tried and trusted old theme, a music chart. But in with the new, the theme of this one is all things new. There are lots of bands with 'new' in their name, New Order, Brand New Heavies, New Puritans, New York Dolls, New Kids On The Block (um).

So here's to the optimism a new year and fresh start brings. Or sumpting...

1) U2 - New Year's Day
Ha ha ha, Bono's hair and dancing. never really liked U2 but I'm feeling charitable and all celebratory for the turn of the year.

2) Joy Division - New Dawn Fades
Didn't last all that long to be honest. "A loaded gun won't set you free". This song represents their musical epicness as it builds, an epicness built on a very stripped down, clean mix of just the 3 basic instruments of guitar, bass & drums.

3) James Brown - Papa's Got A Brand New Bag
Let's get the mood back up and who better to do that than the Godfather of Soul himself? The song that launched a thousand hip-hop samples. BTW there ought to be a show called "Shindig" on TV these days too.

4) Queen Latifah - New Jack City
I went to see this film in the cinema when it came out. It was my introduction to hip-hop. Taught me everything I know today. Okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration. The film was considerably better than this theme tune

5) Clipse - Chinese New Year
Actually, if you want an introduction to hip=hop, you could do a lot worse than Clipse's debut album Lord Willin'. Unfortunately this isn't a track from that album.

6) The Fall - New Face In Hell
Probably wouldn't be one of my music charts without a track from the Fall. But then with about a hundred albums to their name, they have song titles to cover every single theme eventuality I could come up with. They had another song called "New Puritans" just to make my point and yes, that band took their name from the Fall song.

7) 23 Skidoo - The Gospel Comes To New Guinea
Great title, great song. They seem to be back around playing live after 25 years away. Think I may just try and come out of my own gig retirement and catch them if I can.

8) Tricky - Brand New You're Retro
Must be cold up on stage under all those lights, but Tricky has come prepared with a nice big coat. But he won't feel the benefit once he steps outdoors...

9) The Stylistics - You Make Me Feel Brand New
It is an abomination when you type the song title into YouTube, you are first offered Simply red's version. I had the same thing on the radio last night when "swing Low Sweet Chariot" was a version from UB40. Gaaaa! When you listen to some of the early reggae collections from Trojan & Studio One, you realise how UB40 built a career on the backs of other, better artists. "Red, red wine" anybody? Or "red, red whine" as UB40 made it. Rant over.

10) Dizzee Rascal - Brand New Day
Ah, Dizzee counsels da yout to do their homework. A case of 'don't do as I do, do as I say'.