Another week speeds by amid routine mundanities: my dog Bella sitting, waiting, eyes wide open as I open the cupboard storing the peanut butter; early morning yoga and bedroom workouts; windy walks wishing summer would come around already; seeing the Hermes delivery woman more than I see my grandparents; switching between four paperbacks and two audiobooks with indecision. Here are a few little things that have sparked some joy between it all:
Stop what you’re doing and listen to The Empyrean by John Frusciante. Forever looking for new music, I turned to Spotify suggestions and they delivered. It opens bathed in the earthy buzz of analogue recording equipment with an entrancing nine-minute instrumental. Even if you don’t listen to the entire album, listen to the Before the Beginning. Then, Frusciante’s searing vocals in the second track ‘Song to the Siren’ prompted tears I didn’t even know were there to pour from my eyes. On repeated listens, the album reveals itself as a veiled narrative about the struggle to create. Transcendent, experimental, call it what you want: it’s a masterpiece.
As for the other songs I’ve had on repeat this week, Mix Tape 24 are where you’ll find them. It might be my favourite one yet.
I’ve had Blossoms Pubcast playing each morning this week from Tom, Charlie, Josh, Joe and Myles from Salford band, The Blossoms. Lads’ banter, strange facts, and a new segment in which a guest shares their 5 top songs from Manchester. Love it.
Adam Buxton’s conversation with Kazuo Ishiguro for his podcast was fascinating. They delved deep into sci-fi, artificial intelligence, the nature of emotions and his new book, Klara and the Sun, which I now desperately want to get my hands on.
Other than falling into the late-night YouTube hole of weird and wonderful documentaries, I haven’t watched much this week other than starting Adam Curtis’s Can’t Get You Out Of My Head: an emotional history of the modern world. Its carefully curated and impeccably soundtracked archive footage is attended by a narrative that stops every few minutes to probe further an idea, a moment, a movement or perhaps a figure who habitually flies slightly under the radar of history. It may not be the most uplifting lockdown watch, but I’ve watched such an intelligent documentary of ambitious scope in a long while.
The Sheffield indie publisher And Other Stories kindly gifted me their upcoming anthology ‘This Is How We Come Back Stronger‘ in collaboration with the Feminist Book Society. It’s an urgent collection of writings from 40 women tackling intersectionalism, misogyny, solidarity, connection. Published on the one-year anniversary of lockdown, this is an essential volume in the discourse surrounding feminism and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Plus, 20% of every book sold goes to Women’s Aid and Imkaan.
“One of the foundations of authoritarianism is the destruction of language, the insistence on silence, side by side with the creation of spectacles and emergencies that strip away our alphabets.”
So Much Racket, Sara Collins
Meanwhile, despite still making slow progress with The Conte of Monte Cristo and No Filter, with Spring now upon us, I began Ali Smith’s third novel in her seasonal quartet. Remember the days when I’d read one book at a time? Me neither.