Timothy van Sas
Timothy van Sas

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Love Is Watching Someone Die

What Sarah Said - Death Cab For Cutie

The origins of this blog were forged over a decade ago. I was a 20 year old boy who had never been laid and was still coming to terms with the death of my sister. I weighed 22 stone, spent my nights drinking in the pub and hid everything under a mask of laughter.  I loathed myself and things were about to get worse. One day whilst on my lunch break at work – at the time I was working a dead-end job as a purchase ledger clerk – I received a call.

“Mister Lawson?” asked a calm voice.
“Speaking,” I replied.
“This is Doctor Brookes; I’m in charge of your fathers care. Were you aware that he was admitted to hospital?”
“No, the last update I had was a month ago to tell me that he had gone back into full-time care.”
“I’m afraid to tell you that his condition has been deteriorating for some time and that this morning he collapsed on the ward. He’s stable… for now but it would be best if you could come into the hospital.”

It was a call I had been dreading but not prepared for.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

The Evolution of Fanzines

A look at the history of fanzines reveals more about their writers than the music

The first time I encountered a real fanzine was at a festival. I hadn’t slept for 24 hours, was covered head to toe in what I hoped was mud and feeling the satisfying effects of a large amount of gin. Called Applecore, the small, photocopied ‘zine was thrust into my hands by an ordinary looking guy called Henry, cost me £1 and could easily have been mistaken for a school project. I shoved it in my bag, forgot it existed and three months passed before I finally took a closer look at a form of publishing that has become an obsession.

Within its rough A5 pages I found a new form of writing that I had never considered, which paired music opinion and travel in intelligent diary entries, written with a delicate touch. As I read from cover to cover, questions began to reverberate around my mind; what motivated Henry to write about music? At what point between pressing play and the end of a song did he become compelled to commit his thoughts to the page? The subject spiralled out of control and began to broaden. After all, Henry isn’t the only ordinary listener writing about music, heck, all critics start off their career as amateurs.  So I decided to take a look at the history of fanzines and their offspring – blogs and webzines – to figure out what inspires ordinary listeners like Henry to pick up a pen in the first place.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

You Will Never Die

Youth Lagoon - Dropla

Don’t believe what your mum told you, telling lies isn’t bad, it’s an essential part of surviving daily life. Not because we all need to hear little fibs from time to time - “No honey, you don’t look stupid in that” - but because if we didn’t tell ourselves some massive whoppers, life would become an excruciating exercise in futility. How else could we muster the energy to get out of bed, when deep down we know everyone and everything we love will eventually die?

Faced with a truth this bleak, lies (or ignorant acceptance) are wholly preferable. They satisfy our desire to find meaning and are seductive temptation which organised religion has preached for centuries.  It’s this that forms the beating heart of Youth Lagoon’s ‘Dropla,’ a track which glows in the warmth of heavenly strings, whilst pastor Trevor Powers cleanses your weary soul with every solemn repetition of his sermon, “You will never die.” 

Through this affirming baptism, Powers gives you the permission to forget the ugly truth. Providing the strength to face your mortality with dignity and without fear and proving that sometimes a lie is not only more beautiful but more important than the truth.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Sometimes I get problems that are hard to solve

A few years ago I had a vivid dream about falling down a flight of stairs and breaking my front teeth (just the though of it makes me shudder). It felt so real that even though I’ve made it through 32 years without any such injury, whenever I have walked downstairs since, I feel anxious.

It’s this sort of irrational fear that The Knife’s utterly compelling track ‘Full Of Fire’ feels like. A micro panic attack where normal thoughts suddenly implode and form a tension filled vortex of sawtoothed synths, hidden voices and overbearing rhythms that invade the waking world with every horrific dream you’ve ever had.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Let Me Show You A Few Things

Justin Timberlake - Suit & Tie

Sorting out the details of a wedding is an exhausting process. Like all creative endeavours you start with a daunting blank page, that offers an almost infinite amount of options. Do you want organise the day of your dreams, one that all your loved ones will enjoy or something in between?

It’s a bewildering amount of choice and there is little wonder that couples take years to plan out every little detail. As a newly wed himself – Timberlake tied the knot with Jessica Biel last October – the pop star has used the anticipation of his own nuptials to draw a neat parallel with the excitement of finally releasing new material after a four year wait.

The new track, Suit and Tie, opens with Timberlake psyching himself up, “I’ll be on my suit and tie shit, tie, shit / Let me show you a few things.” A steadying pre-ceremony chant, paired with a deep breath of reversed trumpets and a short pause to steady any nerves before launching into an up-to-date Marvin Gaye number that despite the superfluous efforts of Jay Z, guides the listener on a rousing first dance. 

Whilst it’s not quite as thrilling as the first time you heard ‘Future Sex/Love Sounds,’ it’s another high class return from Timberlake, making his proposal to take you on The 20/20 Experience worth accepting.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Fuck Being Polite

A$AP Rocky - Wild For The Night feat. Skrillex

This song is every fan of hipster-hop worst nightmare. On one hand it’s by A$AP Rocky, who apart from Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar, is just about the trendiest rapper working today. On the other it features Skrillex, an artist whose name is used as derogatory term by pretentious, wannabe music-aficionados. Who think his form of radio friendly dance floor bangers is wholly without merit.

They are wrong.

Whilst it’s easy to dismiss Skrillex’s form of Bro-step (or whatever you want to call it) as formulaic, it would be unfair to say that it doesn’t bring anything to the table. His music excels at physically jarring releases of energy, an essential attribute for any club banger. So it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that someone as talented and savvy as A$AP Rocky would want to tap into Skrillex’s aptitude in this sphere. 

On ‘Wild For The Night,’ Rocky pairs sludgy yet stoned vocals, “I’m going wild for the night / Fuck being polite,” with a shrill electric air horn that sounds like an annoying 5 year old playing with an overpowered sound effect toy. It’s over the top, but in the right quantity, never quite jarring and just SO much fun to throw your imaginary guns to the ceiling to. 

So if you’re one of the electro ponces that dismissed the track as ‘commercial’ and wouldn’t be seen dead getting your Quiet Life cap sweaty to anything that has the stigma of Skrillex attached. Have a long hard look at yourself, because when his expertise is put to good use, the results can be spectacular. 

Monday, 14 January 2013

Christen Them With Paraffin

Crystal Castles - Wrath Of God

In the year 1880 any song with the title ‘Wrath Of God’ would have seemed foreboding, one which conjured images of fire, brimstone and the vengeance of an omnipotent creator. But in a modern society where belief in a ‘God’ of any kind is waining, what sort of message are Crystal Castles trying to send?

The track is the standout on their self-titled third album, Crystal Castles III. Where the Canadian duo bind the jittery compositions of their previous work with the ethereal sound of Balam Acab's excellent, Wonder/Wander, to create a new type of gothic-house. One drenched in Silent Hill's cold fog; through which individual voices are lost amongst the hubbub of the crowd. A disquieting experience that perfectly captures the omnipresent role of social networks in day to day life. Where the constant stream of voices can turn from a comfort into an oppressive nightmare of information overload. 

Given that the virtual walls of our profiles have become a place to air our hopes and fears, our responses to them, supportive, sympathetic, mean, disinterested or otherwise are important. We are in essence passing judgement on the ‘prayers’ of friends and our collective voice has taken the role of ‘God.’ Making the potential for wrath, a very real thing indeed.