His recording run is remarkably prolific. Every month he casts a new spell – a new sonic portrait of struggle – of the language of musical injury – and victory, of fatherhood and the pub-life, of local loyalty – but not local sycophancy or bullshit – of stoic humour and keeping your head above the brutal parapet without sinking into the dregs and suds of overpriced pints.
Abstract and spacious, rough and beautiful as well as intimate and modern, when listening to his music it’s not always clear how much division exists between composition and improvisation: it sounds so spacious, natural, thoughtful and yet barking.
Sometimes I think he’s on the verge of outdistancing himself but it seems that being an uncategorisable individual is what drives a strong inclination to avoid genre entrapment. He will not be kidnapped by tags.
You don’t know if you’re being rescued by Tom Baker-era Dr. Who, or flown into the last days of Saigon, or adrift in a fevered wreck, decked out on a beaten childhood settee half-hearing the afternoon TV, or dropped into a late 80s tab of acid, or dropped into Harold Budd’s studio back when he wasn’t marred by attention. It’s all over the shop and the shop is refusing to be shut down. The shop won’t give up; even if nobody enters anymore.
It’s not all easy with him either; nor is it all good. It can also be hard work – seriously fractured, un-harmonic, un-rhythmic, elliptical, chilly, un-listenable – and I often think he puts way too much out – but then that’s not the point. This is the opposite of careful and managed. This not a career. This is lifeblood bled onto record. It may be the wrong decision but fuck it, it’s his.
Where there is no echo there is no document of space or love. Herein he is his own ghost, creating an echo of his own existence whilst he is still around to hear it.
Keep setting the controls for the heart of the echo my friend.
Austin Collings is a writer, filmmaker and Creative Director of The White Hotel venue in Salford.