Inside,

He dances more than he used to

Walks with a purpose

Lean and sharp

A look,

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

Music

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beauty, music, women

Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer

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.

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men, music, women

Prince

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.

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books, music

Words And Music

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.

Music.

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.

http://amzn.to/2DFpDmC

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.

http://amzn.to/2nbTvMa

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.

http://amzn.to/2DGIJIU

Books.

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.

http://amzn.to/2Ee1ArJ

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.

http://amzn.to/2Bw3YHB

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.

http://amzn.to/2Gm4JGv

 

 

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beauty, love, music, poetry, women

Mixtape

 

 

 

It arrived in

The post

His writing on the envelope

Your hands shake

And it starts,

A warmth in your pelvis

Like the moment you begin

Singing along

with a beloved song

Taking the tape to bed

You slip earphones in

Lay down and slip away

Enjoying being horizontal as

The music

Explores you

You run your fingers

Over the handwritten note

Send prayers through

Your fingertips

To him

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beauty, love, lust, music, poetry, women

Mixtape

It arrives

In the mail

You recognise

The handwriting

The tape is warm in your

Hands

Press play

Because this is

How he expresses

Feelings too large

For words

He could write

That he loves

Misses you

But you know

When you press your

Fingers against the words

He’s written

And he tells you

Shows you

Each time

You

Press

Play

 

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music, women

My Favourite Things – Music.

These are a selection of albums I love and listen to. For disclosure, if you buy through the given links, I get a few pennies thrown my way as I have an affiliate account because writing doesn’t pay well at the moment and prostitution is a tough market to crack, even when you’re as handsome as I am.

 

It’s a lovely album I missed the first time around, a raw and angry record awash with a frank and gut-level sexuality which never forgets the appeal of a solid riff and melody. Ah, 90’s guitar albums are a large part of my psychosphere and this is a great album. My favourite song is Johnny Sunshine.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01LZ5D7UT/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=mbblissett76-21&camp=1634&creative=6738&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B01LZ5D7UT&linkId=79a731618accd5e93639d03f79e4092b

 

History is cyclical, and I found this album dense and less immediate than Voodoo, but in turn it was less immediate than his first album. D’Angelo is a living archive of black American music, from the helium croon of Wonder and Gaye through to the dense polyrhythms of Parliament and Sly and The Family Stone. I love the challenge of an album like this as repeated listens reveal new nuances and pleasures. My favourite tracks are The Charade and Ain’t That Easy.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00QR7ZN16/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=mbblissett76-21&camp=1634&creative=6738&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B00QR7ZN16&linkId=cb45eeb362de8d6fb7a396ada5d8ced6

 

Everyone loves Purple Rain but this is the album which best represents the glacial, inventive genius of the man. The Revolution did not have the detailed jazz-fusion chops of later line ups, but they could groove with a fearless invention and gave this album the fluid grooves and gorgeous soundscapes which he wouldn’t explore in the same way again. It also has Kiss, which everyone knows, or should know. I can lip sync to it like a boss. Sometimes It Snows In April was a song I played on repeat after the loss of a close relative, walking around with my dog and crying my

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000002L9B/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=mbblissett76-21&camp=1634&creative=6738&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B000002L9B&linkId=0622d595a1f55a00b0be92cca444189b

 

Beneath the slabs of noise and dissonance there are beautiful, complex symphonies at work within the music of Nine Inch Nails. This album is a masterpiece, including the song covered by Johnny Cash ‘Hurt’ and March of The Pigs which enlivened many an indie disco in my youth. It’s an album which speaks to me during dark times of rejection and discontent without falling prey to accusations of adolescence.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0000262Q8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=mbblissett76-21&camp=1634&creative=6738&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B0000262Q8&linkId=0302623d21bbbfe1834b30f3162e62ac

 

People think jazz is insular and elitist, but I appreciate the intricacy and beauty of it, how it underpins so much of musical progression and history. This album is three hours of intricate, gorgeous music which demands your attention through its virtuosity and passion but also allows you the privacy of your own head, as all good instrumental music does.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00UVIR4G4/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=mbblissett76-21&camp=1634&creative=6738&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B00UVIR4G4&linkId=7fb53d4d436433989e44759b4c77e2ff

 

Some albums, and it feels quaint to think of music in those terms these days, define a band. Here you have Dave Grohl drumming like his life depended on it alongside Josh Homme at his most impassioned and inventive, set on a bed of monolithic riffs, sensual vocal melodies and punch the air choruses. Songs For The Deaf is fifteen years old and it feels utterly timeless.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00006IJXT/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=mbblissett76-21&camp=1634&creative=6738&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B00006IJXT&linkId=8b8b2d2949e586b1fae4cd60f3091928

Next I will be selecting some of my favourite film and television shows, then more books and albums. Please share your favourites with me below and thank you for reading.

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