Unknown Genre

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A Column

Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Robert Aiki Aubery Lowe, Panos Charalambous, Davy Keyhoe, Yoko Yoshimura, Claudio Rocchi, Sonja LaBianca and Culture.

“To be at peace with a troubled world is not a reasonable aim. It can be achieved only through a disavowal of what surrounds you. To be at peace with yourself within a troubled world: that, by contrast, is an honourable aspiration”George Monboit

A year on from my Orcadian Odyssey, this summer’s recess promised an altogether more modest road trip. Weighed down with the kind of existential angst associated with this time of year, fear of change and the malady of love plaguing my countenance, it was time to return to the homelands of Wales, for a week of reflective revisionism. As is traditional, I shaved my head to within an inch with the clippers, packed my trusty Peugeot with essentials, grabbed my copies of George Monboit‘s ‘How Did We Ge Into This Mess’ and Philip Hoare‘s ‘The Sea Inside’, and loaded up with music. With both daughters scheduled to be in tow, the controls were set for the heart of Cardigan Bay, Aberystwyth, and our caravan destination: Borth.

As my daughters now come fitted with headphones as standard, I had planned an outbound journey soundtrack focussing on unknown genre specialists, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, following the recent announcement by Constellation Records that September 22, 2017, will mark the release of the ensemble’s third post-hiatus record, ‘Luciferian Towers’. Informed by such grand demands as an “end to foreign invasions; an end to borders; the total dismantling of the prison-industrial complex; healthcare, housing, food and water to be acknowledged as an inalienable human right; and that the expert fuckers who broke this world never get to speak again”: ‘Luciferian Towers’ is a single album comprising four pieces, recorded in the “midst of communal mess, raising dogs and children, eyes up and filled with dreadful joy”.

https://godspeedyoublackemperor.bandcamp.com

Following an early morning Hep C clinic at Warwick hospital (I’m now one year clear of the virus!), daughter one and I headed for SuponA to collect daughter two. As soon as my youngest clambered aboard the Skylark and shotgunned the aux cable, my soundtrack plans lay like digital confetti, strewn across the desktop of abandoned hope. She’d prepared a playlist especially for the journey, so for the first hour or so we sang along to Busted, Eminem, The Killers, before eventually descending into the murky world of grime as we inched through Worcester, yard by yard.

The outward journey was in itself a trip down memory lane for me, as many a Morgan family holiday had begun this way, back in the 70s. We’d owned a static caravan back then, on a farm near Dolau, a small village in Powys, Mid Wales, in the community of Llanfihangel Rhydithon, on the edge of Radnor Forest. Worcester, Bromyard, Leominster, Kington, Knighton, Presteigne, all place names that hold particular significance in my addled memory banks. Despite the oft-constant white noise, I can still vividly remember getting my first pair of cherry red Docs in Ross-on-Wye; walking across the Radnorshire hillsides, testing them out to the sounds of Led Zeppelin‘s ‘Physical Graffiti’, rattling the cans of my state-of-the-art Sony Walkman; reading about the oncoming punk rock explosion in the pages of Sounds; on the verge of teenage rebellion and an incoming unknown genre. Impressed with Sid Vicious, Malcolm Owen and Johnny Thunders‘ nihilistic take on recreational drug use, I eventually shot up heroin in the very same caravan, with my then drug buddy, Eddie Cornett (sadly no longer with us), en route to a court appearance concerning the liberation of a DDA cabinet from an undisclosed apothecary, at Barmouth Magistrate’s Court, in the early 80s.

By the time we approached Rhayader, a compromise had been reached over the soundtrack, and my requests were forthcoming from daughter two’s Spotify platform: a selection of Public Enemy jams, some Beastie Boys, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, followed by New Order‘s ‘Blue Monday’, until she lost connectivity near the Red Kite Feeding Centre, and the sound of drum and bass leaking from the headphones of daughter one in the back was all that broke the silence. We pit-stopped in Rhayader to take on vitals, fuel and seek comfort, where every other establishment is seemingly owned by a Morgan: we had come home. With Aberystwyth just a short haul away up the Wye, and GY!BE‘s ‘Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven’ (Constellation) now emanating from the speakers, we hit town mid-afternoon, just as the sun was breaking through the dull blanket of cloud that had smothered us like a damp sleeping bag for most of the journey.

Aberystwyth lies at the heart of Cardigan Bay, originally established in response to a fortress built in 1109 by Gilbert Fitz Richard, on the south bank of the Ystwyth River. A university town, owner of a second (now ruined) castle, built in 1277, and controlled by Owain Glyndwr between 1404 and 1408, Aber is also home to ‘Hinterland’ (Y Gwyll), the BBC Wales crime noire TV show that has aired in 3-series (25-episodes) on BBC4 over the past few years, starring Richard Harrington as DCI Tom Mathias. The sun finally melted the clouds late afternoon, as we strolled through the town getting our bearings. I’d soon located the building used as the police station in ‘Hinterland’, and although the facade was draped in scaffolding, the front doors gave inwards as I tentatively pushed, and I found myself in the iconic hallway, expecting DCI Mathias to appear at any moment. The place felt abandoned and ever-so-slightly creepy, and although sorely tempted to walk deeper into the building in search of more familiar settings, I lost my nerve, and scarpered back out into the late afternoon sun. By early evening, we’d settled into our caravan at Brynowen Holiday Park in Borth, and were shooting pool in the arcade when my mate Charlie and his family caught up with us. Charlie lives in Borth, he’s a film maker and fellow recoverist, and the holiday promised time for us to catch up, plan future capers, and witness the local premier of his new film, ‘A Thin Place’, at Borth cinema, scheduled as the finale of our stay.

http://www.fictionfactoryfilms.com/programmes/hinterlandy-gwyll/

The holiday also provided ample chance for me to catch up with the virtual pile of new releases that life had gotten in the way of. With the girls off sampling on-site entertainments, I took the opportunity to delve into some Robert Aiki Aubery Lowe. Brooklyn-based RAAL is somewhat of a polymath, an artist and multi instrumentalist who works in the realm of spontaneous music, often under the moniker of Lichens. Raised on a diet of Gustav Holst‘s ‘Planets’ and hardcore punk, since arriving in the public eye in 1997, RAAL has played out with 90 Day Men, Dreamweapon and Om, launching his solo career as Lichens with ‘Gyromancy’ (Thrill Jockey), in 2008. ‘Two Orb Reel’ (More Than Human) is one of two RAAL releases this summer, a modular synth record with precedents set in both Holst’s ‘Planets’ and Jean Hoyoux‘s recently reissued ‘Planètes’ (Cortizona). Described by RAAL himself as a sci-fi music from an African perspective, ‘Two Orb Reel’ comprises 14-parts of visceral synthesis, many no longer than a couple of minutes, strewn amongst four more lengthy pieces. With impressive dexterity, RAAL ushers shimmering soul and simmering dread from his hardware, a magi time-traveller invoking spirits from the expanse of deep space: lighting the pitch black with modular tones, shooting melodies, and a wealth of fascinating textures. 21st century electronic chamber music, transcending its polarities: droning electronica and crystalline ambience. A listening experience suspended in isolation, demanding connectivity, filed under: unknown genre.

https://morethanhuman.greedbag.com/buy/two-orb-reel/

‘Levitation Praxis Pt 4′ (DDS) is a beguiling treasure to behold. The second RAAL release this summer comes courtesy of Demdike Stare‘s imprint, on translucent pink vinyl, housed in the most exquisite of sleeves. Commissioned by New York’s Museum Of Arts And Design to contribute to a Harry Bertoia exhibition in 2016, RAAL and video director Johann Rashid descended on Bertoia’s eighteenth-century stone barn in Barto, Pennsylvania, to film and record RAAL bringing a decidedly more composed approach than traditionally employed to Bertoia’s collection of Sonambient sculptures: metal rods and gongs that produce highly distinct, resonant sounds when struck, brushed or touched. Interweaving his own incantations and chants, RAAL pushes genre boundaries into the unknown, with the ethereal meter firmly in the red, over two sides of stunning wax, conjuring sprints from the air, casting spells like a zen master, at one with the universe.

The following morning began the way of many a British family holiday: torrential rain, kids refusing to get up. I set out early with Charlie to visit his office unit at Aberystwyth University, ostensibly to check out local bike hire options. Despite the inclement weather, my mood was buoyant. The short journey into Aber involved the kind of hills that would tax a fit car, and by the time we arrived, I was already contemplating taking the entire week off two wheels! Summit Cycles subsequently reneged on their advertised hire packages, and the decision was duly taken for me: cycling canceled. After a morning discussing recovery futures and the feasibility of launching a new rehab in Aber, Charlie dropped me back to Borth, and I dug up the girls for a trip out to Devil’s Bridge. Apart from the infamy associated with the psilocybin festival of 1979, Devil’s Bridge also features heavily in the expanding narrative of ‘Hinterland’. According to folklore, the bridge itself was built in one night by the Devil, as part of a thwarted plan to possess and old woman, her cows and her dog. The Devil was eventually outsmarted, and hasn’t rebooked a holiday in Mid Wales since.

As the rain lashed down on this humdrum town, we clambered up and down the ravine steps, marvelled at the sheer force of flowing water, and re-enacted the scenes from Iwan Thomas’s death. We ate lunch in the The Hafod Hotel, scene of the children’s home at the centre of the unfolding ‘Hinterland’ narrative. As we ate, a fairly impressive DCI Mathias clone sat a few tables away with his family. The irony was wasted on the girls, however, who had no idea what I was talking about. Driving back into Aber, the sun began to emerge, lighting the stunning vistas of the Cambrian Mountains. The streams of the valleys glinted in the sunlight, finer details slowly emerging from the mannerist canvas. As the coastline unfolded on the horizon, the clear division between cloud and clear sky beckoned us. We arrived on the sea front in Aber late afternoon, the mid-August sun filling the sky. We parked up, and dropped down onto the rock pools along the sea wall. Daughter two, her left foot plastered following her recent operation to remove bunions, inched her way deftly on one crutch, whilst daughter one forged ahead in search of crustaceans and interesting stones to throw at her sister. As I sat at the foot of the seawall, basking in the by-now radiant sunshine, I watched the girls make their way, chuckled at their incessant banter, and pondered the velocity of time.

With stomachs rumbling and daughter one itching to access the 2p-machines on the pier, we climbed back up to the seafront in search of decaf coffee, cake, iced-drinks and gaming tokens. While the girls mooched about in town, I wandered up to check out Andy’s Records, infuriatingly displaying a sign saying: ‘back in five minutes’. I waited for about seven. Andy didn’t return. I wandered back past Summit Cycles, who had loads of impressive bikes for sale, but none for hire, and we eventually settled in Coffee #1 for late afternoon refreshment. A poster on the wall advertised a record fair that had taken place the Saturday before we’d hit town. All bad things come in threes! With evening beckoning, we returned to Borth to meet up with Charlie, his partner Becky, and her son Tom, for fish, chips and an impressive sunset on Borth beach.

Following an evening of pool in the entertainment complex, I retired to my chamber with Panos Charalambous‘ ‘Fullness of Harmony’ (Rekem). From the very moment I unearthed this 1-sided 12″ vinyl wonderment via Soundcloud, I had the instinctive feeling it was going to become a record to treasure, and, sure enough, its the presently the pride of my collection. Record collector and artist Charalambous, a 59-year old out of Aetolia-Acarnania, Greece, is a DJ with a difference, swimming in an undisclosed genre pool all of his own. Using unorthodox styli, ranging from an eagle’s talon, to rose thorns, to agave leaves, Charalambous reconfigures his enormous collection of indigenous Balkan folk vinyl and shellac to reveal the sound of esoteric vibration as cacophonous perfection. Along with Stratos Bichakis indispensable cassette release, ‘Greek Etho Music Location Recordings’ (V-I-S), this slender collection further evidences the ‘Out-Of-Africa’ theory that would appear to pump at the heart of traditional Balkan folk.

http://www.rekem.org/Panos-Charalambous-Fullness-of-Harmony

We awoke to clear skies, electing to spend the day around the campsite, digging further into Borth itself. After a lazy start, we wandered up the beach, venturing as far as the expansive sand dunes of the Ynyslas Nature Reserve. Ynyslas demonstrates all stages of dune formation and growth, from sandy shore, through vegetated shingle, fore dunes, mobile dunes and fixed dunes, to scrub. They are home to a rich population of orchids, mosses, liverworts, fungi, insects and spiders. Many of these species are rare, and some are unknown elsewhere in Britain. Sadly, the girls seemed somewhat disinterested in exploring the dunes, so I decided to return later in the day. Next stop was Borth railway station, another ‘Hinterland’ set piece. The backdrop of the Cambrian Mountains across the scrub plain from the station platform is a truly enduring image. We wended our way along Borth High Street, snapping furiously. Brightly painted houses shone in the sunlight: yellows, pinks, blues. Giant purple dinosaur prints from Borth Carnival painted onto the pavements. We stopped for coffee and lunch in a beachside cafe, before returning to the camp site. The girls spent the afternoon in the arcade, while I took a brief swim in the campsite swimming pool. With the daughters engrossed in 2p-machines, happy to loll about the site, I took the opportunity for a few hours alone, making my way back to Ynyslas.

The late-afternoon sun had strengthened in its intensity, the dunes looked idyllic bathed in light, bright blue skies merging with the sea on the horizon. Reflecting as I walked, I was flooded with a sense of joy that quickly melted much of the frustration that has built up this past year. It had begun to feel like I’d been fighting a war for the past five years, but at the death it had felt like defeat, not victory. As the sand parted beneath my bare feet, I was acutely aware of the futility of such thinking. This world is a beautiful place, and positivity is at the heart of possibility. Change is challenging, but it is also inevitable. Life is fluid, and although the song appears to remain the same on the surface, hidden tides alter the verses and choruses below. With changes afoot professionally, and children growing up fast, I’m on the cusp of something new and potentially exciting. Time to grab it with both hands. Tomorrow never knows: be here now.

We spent the evening with Charlie and family. Becky prepared a giant pasta feast. We sat out-back in the sun, gassing away. At sunset, we drove up to the headland to snap away at the drowning orange orb, as it sank into the sea. Borth is famous for its sunsets, and this one didn’t disappoint. Back at the caravan, the girls went in search of entertainment, and I retired to my chamber to assess Davy Kehoe’s debut mini-album, ‘Short Passing Game’ (Wah Wah Wino). Fashioned by a palate laden with the taut motorik rhythms of Krautrock, the cross-faded sensibilities of dub, the vast ambiguity of post-rock, and the improvisational bloody-mindedness of folk-jazz-peculiarity, ‘Short Passing Game’ boasts shades of Neu!, Suicide, Tortoise and Andy Weatherall, at his Boy’s Own best. Dublin’s Wah Wah Wino could be the most exciting label to come out of Ireland since Good Vibrations. The label’s ‘Absolutely Wino’ double vinyl compilation is already going for silly money on Discogs, whilst Keyhoe’s debut is already in its second pressing. ‘Short Passing Game’ is a strange fruit from beginning to end, impossible to pigeonhole. Indispensable, frankly.

I awoke early the next morning, the telltale sore throat of impeding man-flu rasping my oesophagus. It’s always the way: stress and fatigue build up; holidays bring relaxation; defences down, the bugs kick in. A common occurrence, though probably just a common cold, truth be told. Typical. Soldiering on, I dug the girls up, and we headed south down the A487 out of Aber bound for Aberaeron, a charming Georgian port town established in 1805 by the Rev. Alban Thomas Jones Gwynne, crammed full of brightly painted buildings around a bustling harbour front. Families busy crabbing off the quay, fishing lines draped out into the harbour. The sun fought valiantly to burn off the clouds, the temperature simmered in the early twenties. It may of been patchy, but summer was trying its damnedest. We holed up in a family restaurant at the corner of the harbour and took lunch. Plodding round the town after eating, we began consulting estate agent’s windows, impressed with the relative paucity of price. A relocation is bubbling under, the call of the lands of my ancestors grows in volume daily.

Back in Borth, we met up with Charlie, Becky and Tom, for a visit to Borth’s submerged forest, a host of gnarled tree stumps spread along the beach, about halfway between high and low water. Radio carbon dating suggests that the trees died between 4,500 and 6,000 years ago. The forest is often hidden under a layers of sand, so we were pretty lucky that conditions allowed us to stroll through these haunting ancient woodlands. As the sun died on the horizon, we dug in for the evening at Charlie’s. Becky again fed us proud, this time with platefuls of chicken curry and rice, supported by bowls laden with Penguin biscuits and chocolate chip cookies. It emerged that I’d caught Charlie’s man-flu, and with him already beginning to wilt, Becky offered up her ‘potion’, and I struggled to down as many spoonfuls as I could. By now shivering, tired from the exertions of the day, feeling a tad sorry for myself, we returned to the caravan, and the girls duly wandered off towards the cabaret-infused atmosphere of the Brynowen entertainment complex. I retired to my chamber with the suitable ambience of Hiroshi Yoshimura‘s ‘Music For Nine Post Cards’ (Empire Of Signs). The abject serenity of this essential re-issue was just what my aching throat and running nose required. If a doctor had been involved, I’m pretty sure it would have been prescribed. Largely unknown outside his native land, Yoshimura’s singular art first began making waves on the post-Fluxus scene of late-70s Tokyo. Recorded at home on keyboard and Fender Rhodes, ‘Music for Nine Post Cards’ deftly delivers tunes of stunning simplicity, smothered in the resonance of ample reverb. The keyboard tones throughout are sumptuous, their bass notes swell as they slumber, undercurrents of substance, countering the sweetness and light of the top-lines. Within the space of the first three tracks I was smitten. No wonder this record is held in such high regard by those who know, it is everything they say it is, and more.

http://empireofsigns.com

Friday began bunged up, my nose running as if to mimic the fresh rain cascading down the hills flanking our caravan. Summer was under intense atmospheric pressure to morph into autumn, and spirits floundered accordingly. Following breakfast, we democratically decided to head out in the car towards Machynlleth, the seat of Owain Glyndwr’s Welsh Parliament in 1404. We’d been advised not to expect much of the town, and in that respect, we weren’t disappointed. By the time we arrived the rain was torrential, and the girls simply refused to leave the car. As we passed through the town, we noticed a signpost designated ‘scenic route’, heading up into the Cambrian mountains. Daughter two seemed momentarily energised by the sign’s footnote: ‘single-track road’. The prospect of danger coupled with the reality that we may actually be able to rise above the dank clouds spurred us onwards and upwards. With GY!BE‘s ‘Yanqui U.X.O.’ blasting from the speakers, we began to climb.

The road narrowed accordingly, bends increased in regularity, and the portentous nature of ‘Yanqui U.X.O.’  began to unnerve the girls. Daughter one, by now unplugged and paying attention, suddenly, complained that the music made her feel like we were going to “fall off the edge of the mountain”. In silence, we pressed on. As we rounded the umpteenth bend and began a long straight to a summit of sorts, we passed a lone cyclist, massively impressed at his exertions. Daughter two wound down the window and shouted encouragement, rabidly. The cyclist seemed elated by the gesture, and waved frantically as he disappeared in the rearview mirror. Despite not clearing the clouds, the views in every direction were massively impressive. Off-piste, in for the long haul, we hithered and thithered, to and fro, through majestic forests, around expansive lakes, over cattle grid after cattle grid, marvelling at the temporary waterfalls lashing down of the mountains, and the kamikaze sheep, cows and horses hurling themselves at the car. The landscape reminded me of Norway, and for a while I began to fear that we’d gotten lost. Wandered off-grid into a forgotten world of single-track isolation. As usual in these situations, the petrol gauge light came on, and the girls began to moan that they were hungry. Unperturbed, I pressed on through the trees. Eventually, we emerged in the relative conurbation of Llanidloes, just in time for three full Welsh breakfasts and a full tank of gas. Llanidloes takes its name from the early 7th century Celtic Saint Idloes, and is popular with hikers who walk on the scenic footpaths surrounding the town, including Glyndwr’s Way, which in conjunction with Offa’s Dyke path, forms a 160-mile circuit around Mid Wales, and local passage over the spine of the Cambrian Mountains.

We ate that night at the Victoria Inn, with Charlie’s family and friends. Folk were in town ahead of the next night’s screening of ‘A Thin Place’, and nerves were suitably jangling. A raw-blues crooner was rattling away on the ground floor: “I woke up this morning, my throat was sore”. By now I was feeling absolutely lousy, head throbbing, nose streaming, so we made for the caravan after eating, and the girls headed for Entertainment World, while I retired to my chamber of woe with Claudio Rocchi‘s ‘Suoni De Frontera’ (Die Schachtel). A legend in his native land, Rocchi had form in the late-60s with Italian psych-prog troupe Stormy Six by the time ‘Suoni De Frontera’ was originally released, back in 1975. It has since become a somewhat of a cult relic, capturing the dawn of Italian electronic experimentalism as the genre was formed. Recorded at home with a VCS3 synthesizer and guitars, Rocchi treated his recordings heavily with tape delays and echo effects, utilising post-production techniques as a creative tool in an innovative manner largely unheard of back then,  Rocchi reflected the influence of Harmonia and the German contemporary underground. Infused with oscillating loops, astral synth excursions, sharp collages of vocal snippets and electronica, the 16-sketeches of ‘Suoni Di Frontiera’ sound as alien today as they must have back in the mid-70s. Described by Rocchi himself as “diving deeper into psychoacoustics, a practical theory on healing music, mind resonances, inner flows“, ‘Suoni Di Frontiera’ sits somewhere between Kluster and Cluster. Go on, you know you want to!

http://www.dieschachtel.com

I was feeling no better by dawn, awaking altogether too early, I wandered down to the beach-front Nisa alone, for Vicks Sinex nasal spray and painkillers. I spent the rest of the day in bed, leaving the girls to do their own thing around the complex. As a concession for my miserablism, I ran them into Aber late-afternoon for junk food, ahead of the night’s big screening of ‘A Thin Place’. At 7pm we made our way into downtown Borth, to the Libanus 1877, the venue for the screening, an amazing cinema and restaurant, transformed from a 19th century rustic chapel, fitted with the most comfortable red leather cinema seats and a 4K projector. Reminiscent of the Electric Cinema in Birmingham, Charlie couldn’t have chosen a more perfect venue to share his work with his community. A red carpet had been laid, and photographers were snapping all around.

‘A Thin Place’ tells the tale of Grace, a young heroin addict, and her her alcoholic doctor, Jamie. Imprisoned by the horror of addiction and sexual co-dependency, the pair experiment with a powerful natural hallucinogenic in a bid to travel the spiritual road to recovery. Since the dawn of humankind, psychotropic substances have been used as a portal to altered states of consciousness, leading to enlightenment. In more recent times, the use of psychotropic substances to treat addiction to substances such as heroin has become a ground breaking approach echoing the wisdom of our ancient forbearers. Poor attachment at birth; questionable norms and values; repeated traumas in childhood, and consequential low self esteem, create the template for potential addictions in later life. Many addicts will tell you that they are not scared of death, that instead they are more scared of being alone with themselves and their memories: the emotional injuries that have scarred them. However successful this approach has been for many, sometimes these attempts to escape from pain only create more pain. Sometimes, as they say in Tibet: “The surest way to go to hell is to try and run away from hell”. Whilst seeking the truth to their present and past behaviour, driven by self-obsession and malevolent denial, far from leading to salvation, the road Grace and Jamie actually travel leads them to a place from which they may never return. A thin place where the truth is more horrific than the lies they tell themselves.

https://www.thinplaceproductions.co.uk

With our entourage set for a night of post-screening celebration in the Friendship Inn, daughter two and I retired to the caravan, leaving daughter one to party the night away in the custody of Charlie and Becky. Back in my chamber, the perfect counterpoint to the noire of ‘A Thin Place’ was waiting for me, in the form of Sonja LaBianca‘s delectable ‘About Room, Room to Be, Rooms’ (Eget Værelse), the debut album from Selventer‘s saxophonist and composer. An album grounded in the warmth of natural reverb, the pieces aired here are all field recordings captured in rooms LaBianca considered blessed with the prerequisite acoustic properties, including the bell tower of the Simeon Church and the Burn in Albertslund. Recorded in collaboration with Aske Zidore and Andreas Pallisgaard, including cameos from Asger Hartvig (tenor saxophone), Jaleh Negari (percussion) and Cæcilie Trier (cello),  ‘About Room, Room to Be, Rooms’ is a poetic collection of sublime melody, one that captured my heart indefinitely on first listen.

http://www.egetvaerelse.dk

I awoke on our final day in town feeling relatively better than at any time during the previous 48-hours. The sore throat had retreated, and my breathing had returned to something approaching normal. I’d booked a table for a blow-out Sunday lunch at Libanus 1877 the night before, and after a relaxing morning in bed with The Observer, we made our way downtown on foot to eat. The restaurant itself was as equally impressive as the cinema, and the food was delicious. Daughter one and I plumped for roast pork, whilst daughter two settled on chicken, all with oodles of veg, roast and new potatoes, and lashings of gravy. We treated ourselves to a pudding each, and I ended proceedings with a decaf coffee. For anyone else looking to give up caffeine, choosing to detox during a period of illness is a pretty effective way to dismiss any withdrawal symptoms. Stuffed full of hearty Welsh faire, we returned to the caravan to change into beach friendly attire. The sun had got its hat on, and daughter one was determined to hit the sea before our departure.

We walked back down to the beach to meet up with Charlie, Becky and Tom. Charlie was shattered from the exertions of the screening, and promptly fell asleep on a towel. With Tom and daughter one away to to the sea, I left daughter two with Becky, and climbed the costal path to Borth Monument for a reflective resume of the week. The view from the headland back along the town and the seafront, looking north to Ynyslas, held my eye for a good while. It felt like home, and I knew I’d made the decision to work my way out of the Midlands, to relocate here, to the heart of Mid Wales. Holidaying with my girls over the last seven years of my sobriety has created a bond of solidarity between us that could never have developed with the old, selfish, drunken me. Memories of Cornwall, Devon, Lincoln, North Yorkshire, Norfolk, and the Isle of Wight came flooding back, quality time as a single dad, building adult relationships with two young women, no longer girls, no longer little. They swear like troopers, they swear so inventively, they make me laugh like a drain, and I love holidaying with them. Charlie and Becky both commented that they were a credit to me, which seven years ago, is something I could never have imagined.

We all climbed back to Becky’s at dusk, Charlie all apologies for his beach snoring. We said our goodbyes, gave grateful thanks for their generous hospitality throughout the week, and made our way back to the caravan for our final night. The girls couldn’t resist one last dose of cabaret, otherwise known as wifi connectivity, apparently, and I retired once more to my chamber, with the 4oth anniversary edition of Culture’s immense ‘Two Sevens Clash’ (VPR Records). It’s a record I have owned many times, and in many versions, over the years since its release in 1977, and now its been expanded to include a host of 12″ disco mixes, DJ cuts and dubs. A masterpiece of biblical proportions, ‘Two Sevens Clash’ sits atop the pantheon of seventies roots reggae, a colossus. With newly added dubs mixed by Errol T and chatter from the likes of I-Roy and Shorty The President, the only downside is the relatively questionable fidelity of a couple of the bonus cuts. That aside, its the perfect companion to VPR’s recent mandatory reissue of The Congos’ ‘Heart Of The Congos’.

https://www.vprecords.com/release/two-sevens-clash-40th-anniversary-edition/ 

Jean Encoule - September 1st, 2017