I plan to do some serious writing today. So - with gossip burning my ruby red, ruby lips and Sheela Na Gig screaming accusingly out of my speakers - I start with an exercise and a plug.
Last night, The Womb left a message on my answerboard. Alan Driscoll's a fascinating figure I gained the acquaintence of back in my zinekids days. I can't remember how we came into contact - though were I to chance a guess, I'd say it was something to do with a shared love of Amiga Power and revolution.
(There's a whole story to be told about the influence of AP on the post-bis fanzine scene via Cha Cha Cha, but it's not really the time)
Actually, it may have been him writing to me via Kenickie Friend Chicken to slag them off - or perhaps object to my description of them as "The Manics With a Dress". He was very much that sort of Mansun-worshipping sort of Indie Kid.
I'd have probably have phrased it in stronger language back then. Like "Borderline-misogynist". But back then, I spent most my time accusing people of being borderline misogynists over Kenickie.
Anyway - The Womb is Alan's band. In e-mails, we chatted about our requisite musical projects a fair bit. I was in the middle of the whirlwind of destructive Chaos which was Agents AD. He suggested a plan. He wanted to storm the stage of popular Saturday morning Television show CD:UK as a protest against it - well - being utter shit.
I consider it. Eventually I turn it down, for the dual reasons of that I wasn't entirely sure it was the right target for the rage and that it simply wasn't the rest of my band's thing. Besides - we were far too busy having to hospitalise members for mental breakdowns.
Clearly, I never thought he'd go through with it.
A couple of months later, I'm sitting cross-legged before the television, reading the Saturday's paper when I catch a blur of Chaos on the screen. I look up and see someone being dragged off CD:UK from R&B micro-star Kelly Le Roc.
"Man," I think, "If that wasn't Driscoll, he's going to be pissed."
A week later, it turns out to have been him.
Good work, Alan.
So, for the final issue of my Fanzine, I get a copy of his Demo. I want it to be great, but it is actually completely dreadful. Desperately affected attempts at whispered cynical vocals singing sub-Mansun pretension with a woefully misplaced hatred of people enjoying pop-music and wearing short skirts and stuff. Clearly, I ravage it.
Alan's never read it, as I never actually published the zine despite finishing it. Live - The Two Years I did nothing but be a games journalist, mainly - intervened. In fact, scanning my Hard-drive, I discover I've actually lost the copy, along with most of the DOTP U words.
Last I properly heard from Alan was dropping me a line about doing some Freelance for GAMER which I didn't reply to out of Rubbishness rather than judgement. He's really not a bad writer at all. Oh - and I bump into him on a few message boards, mainly the Weekly.
So, after a typical Friday night, I discover his contact and go look at the Womb's site. Things have changed. He's lost his other two-co band members - probably wisely, as while Alan has the look of a man in bands, his co-players very much had a mates-from-school vibe - and now works primarily solo, with occasional vocals from one Chloë Reeves.
Since it's inching towards 3am, I start download the latest of the albums. Mainly electronic backdrops, less vocals, splashs of cut-and-paste sound-clash politics. It's okay - in that it's no longer embarassing. While still a deliberate whisper, he's at least now inched a little closer to a master of the form like Luke Haines. Chloe's got a lazy curl of smoke of a voice, but not used to huge effect.
I decide to leave the other album for morning, and wander over to the singles.
At which point I put a needle in the Dusty Groove.
And, in those small hours, it's lovely. It's just slower than the heartbeat, drenched in languid warm noises, deeply analogue, deeply warm. And Chloe's voice finds a torch-song space deep inside it. Her phrasing nails the song, a girl lying on her back waiting for dawn to come. The word "Languid" would be applied at this point, if I hadn't wasted it earlier in the paragraph - it's an emotional perfomance all the more impressive with the lack of histronic. Tired country soul. There's the word - Tired, but not tired of caring.
Made all the better by a great central conceit ("Now the room is quiet/and nothing moves/but the needle/in the dusty groove"). "The Dusty Groove" is a song that immediately sounds classic, aged but ever-present. In fact, it has that odd out-of-time quality which makes it sound like a performance of a standard.
Download it. Wait until 3.am. Pour red wine. Light a cigarette and watch the smoke spiral. Savour.