I wanted to share it with you. More to come, but my hope is, you’ll buy and enjoy the story.
He dances more than he used to
Walks with a purpose
Lean and sharp
And sometimes he imagines it
A video game
And he’s levelled up
But he still says hello
In his own way
Even after the silence has faded
Remember there is always
She’s an artist who emerged with a complete look and sound which touched on both past, present and future. She made albums of afro futuristic r’n’b and yet she’s remained a pleasurable secret.
Dirty Computer is where she comes out with an album which captures her sound and ideas in such a succinct and immediate way.
There’s a lushness to the production, set on crisp, impeccable beats and dashing forays into delicate electronic pop (Pink), Beach Boys harmonies about vulnerability (Dirty Computer) and dirty, knowing funk (Make Me Feel).
The guest musicians contribute without overwhelming Monae and she gives off a playful, inventive and sexual energy which reminds me of Prince.
Much like Glover, with his persona Childish Gambino and ‘Awaken, My Love), Monae has curated and refined the sensual-spiritual pop funk into something unique and immediately compelling.
It’s also fun, instant and sexy in a way which also rewards repeated listening. There’s moments of utter musical abandon (the drum machine fill locked in with the chicken scratch guitar in Make Me Feel is pure excitement.)
Got The Juice has the call and response swagger of Rihanna and early Madonna, and it will dominate the airwaves if it becomes a single.
Her voice is delicious, smooth and subtle yet capable of vulnerability and bruising defiance without falling into histrionic vocal inflections. Her lyrics are clever and funny, poignant and insightful. Don’t Judge Me has the lines:
I know I’ve got issues
But they drown when
I kiss you
There’s a wink and an open heart in every line of the album and it opens up into vistas of shimmering compelling music.
The whole thing is bliss from beginning to end, there’s a lovely film to accompany it and she’s making appearances framed as the star she is. Dirty Computer is one of the best albums of the year so far.
The 7″ Sign O’The Times single was the first record I brought. When I heard his music, it was a radio signal from a better world than this.
I tune into it from different artists who bear his influences, directly or otherwise. He remains pivotal to me for a few reasons, and not because he could dance in heels either.
(I can’t dance unless twerking counts)
He made it ok to be weird. There was always a sense he made his own world and the music was the radio signals, sent from a world where the parties were great, people didn’t hurt each other unless they were into it and there was no difference between sex and spirit. He was a library of music, a gateway drug to jazz, blues and funk as well as a proponent of fluidity of genre and a professional discipline which meant his backing band and collaborators were honed and rehearsed to precision.
Prince made it look effortless but never hid the work involved in making it look that way. His music was a soundtrack to my life, still is and I hear his influences everywhere. People used to try and insult me by claiming he was gay but I’ve seen the audiences at his shows and there were women in throes of delight at the smallest gesture he gave. Even if he had have been, he gave out all the masculine virtues and then some.
When my grandfather died, I grieved by walking my dog Milo and listening to Sometimes It Snows In April as I wept. There was a poem here about it, but yes I found a path through the grief through his music.
My daughter broke the news to me and I cried again. The circumstances of his death were sad but they don’t tarnish the power of his presence and diminish the absence. There’s a vault of unreleased material I hope to binge on someday.
He’s never disappointed me as a musician or a human being. He never will. It’s been two years now and I want a world with him still around, but there you go.
This is what I’ve been listening to, reading and watching. For disclosure, if you click through on these, I have an Amazon Affiliate account and I get something for it.
Bilal, In Another Life.
One of the unsung geniuses of neo-soul. The duet with Kimbra, ‘Holding It Back’ is a song I can listen to on repeat without being bored by it.
Prince – Purple Rain 25th Anniversary Edition.
Remastered brilliance and some gorgeous unreleased tracks. I have a lot of love for his music, and I’ve said before, even his bad stuff is interesting. He set a high bar for musicians with me which only a few of them have ever met.
Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral.
It has an operatic intensity without forgetting the dichotomy of beauty and ugliness which informs the best art. There are some beautiful melodies and deep, hard drops of harsh intensity which adds up to a classic album of anger, love and madness.
Nick Harkaway – Gnomon.
A complex, rewarding and challenging meditation on surveillance culture, digital selves, mythology and society. It is exciting, complex and beautiful storytelling without compromising on the need to explore and expand on these ideas in the service of the story.
Jordan B Peterson 12 Rules For Life
He’s lauded as the next popular intellectual. I enjoy the pragmatism of his ideas, and his delivery is compelling. His ideas speak to a direction men should know, or consider. I don’t agree with everything he says, and I might put my thoughts down in a post at some point. His lectures on YouTube are fantastic and he is stimulating to listen to. I have this on audiobook and also a copy reserved for a present. I’ll get my own copy too, but he’s compelling and passionate.
Joyce Carol Oates A Book Of American Martyrs.
She goes after the issues lesser writers avoid, and finds the innate humanity in disparate positions. Oates’ work intimidates me as a writer and she channels a terrible intensity into her work before she gifts us with prose and emotion as subtle and involving as a missed connection.
It arrived in
His writing on the envelope
Your hands shake
And it starts,
A warmth in your pelvis
Like the moment you begin
with a beloved song
Taking the tape to bed
You slip earphones in
Lay down and slip away
Enjoying being horizontal as
You run your fingers
Over the handwritten note
Send prayers through
In the mail
The tape is warm in your
Because this is
How he expresses
Feelings too large
He could write
That he loves
But you know
When you press your
Fingers against the words
And he tells you