If there is one thing I am really afraid of, as a man in general and as a music lover, it is that, as time goes by, one day all this will end. But “all this” what? I am terrified of waking up one morning and saying: ok enough… I am tired, my journey is over! I can’t decide whether to understand what the hell “vaporwave” means anymore (and let’s face it, they have always been on the verge of ridicule but by now these names and sub-names of genres and sub-genres have become fucking annoying…) or to finally go deeper into Ligeti’s work; whether to try to understand why I struggle with certain noise records or to dedicate myself as I’ve been promising myself for years to study jazz seriously.
Because, although it’s a continuous wonder, it’s also a tiring path full of pitfalls. Sometimes, in fact, I feel that this non-stop travel from one pole to another causes a disengagement and a disorientation from myself. It’s paradoxical because, after all, all this poking around everywhere is just an investigation in search of my identity (I think, for example, that my love for Tim Buckley and Robert Wyatt define me better than anything I could say about myself) but it can also cause a sense of bewilderment, especially for those who are of a certain age: when I started the journey in fact, listening to a record could have been a titanic undertaking that required bibliographic work, a network of social relationships and a lot of luck, while now a decent internet connection is enough….
In short, to continue the metaphor of the journey is a bit like going from a broken bicycle to a supersonic jet always at one’s disposal…. Everything is at your fingertips.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to make a detour home every once in a while and put on a Dylan record between an Amnesia Scanner record and that rapper’s album, the one insistently recommended by a friend (a guy who keeps yelling pow pow pow over the, let’s be clear, stunning…, beats). It is fundamental to better appreciate, for example, the icy electronic experimentalism of the two aforementioned Finnish boys and the post-modern patchwork of Westside Gunn (the pow pow pow guy…). Search for novelty and challenge to one’s own taste risks becoming purely a frenetic habit and an exercise in style to boast about with your friends, if you don’t remember who you are. You have to look in the mirror in search of changes and look for differences as you did with those drawings on puzzle magazines, if you want to capture that ever mutant beast that is your critical sense.
I suppose if you didn’t run away after this boring intro, it’s because you’re wondering what the hell Bevis Frond has to do with it…
Until last week I wouldn’t have been able to say it either if it hadn’t happened something that often occurs to me while I’m driving to work, which is to enchant me like a ruined vinyl on the same song: hearing a song and at the end starting again from the beginning, once and then again, until I reach my (not)coveted destination; recent examples (COVID permitting…) Simon Love’s “God Bless The dick who let you go”, Ulver’s “Nowhere” (live version), Teenage Fanclub’s “Going Places”… (speaking of showing off your vanity…. you’ll forgive me, don’t you?).
A few days ago, scrolling quickly through the car radio menu, I decided by instinct, as it almost always happens, to give good old Nick Saloman a chance. For those who don’t know it, he’s a veteran of the English psychedelic scene; he’s been around since the sixties but he became a protagonist especially of the eighties psychedelic revival with his sour guitar and his shrill voice. I put on his last record and heard the first three tracks, classically Bevis Frond but actually quite the same (good of course) Bevis Frond’s routine; the next day, when I turned my car radio on, track number four, “Lead On”, suddenly started and from there I didn’t move anywhere else.
A repeated riff with five notes of the guitar alone, distorted and saturated to the limit of the feedback dubbed in the background and I was already lost in it.
The introduction is followed by eight minutes of pure ecstasy: the distorted chords, the underlining and guitar solos that chase each other and overlap in a psychedelic way warmly shouted one thing to me: welcome home!
Yes, because I hope that I will never get tired of sailing the sea like Ulysses and being bewitched by sirens and encountering cyclops (Sorry, I got caught up in the emphasis….) but there is a reality that is still there and that represents my most intimate nucleus: we leave to get somewhere hoping to find something we don’t know yet but there is very little that I yearn for more than psychedelic bewilderment. And if there is an instrument that represents its essence, it’s the electric guitar. So I can’t help but feel at home (and in front of the mirror we were talking about earlier) when the guitar spreads lysergic effects and sounds in the air, when it flies free, taking my neurons for a ride in wonderland with Alice (fuck, I got caught up again!), when twenty minutes of solo seems thirty seconds…
So thanks Nick, maybe it’s not your best track but thanks anyway. Thank you for those eight minutes that due to the sacred power of the repeat button become endless, thank you for turning my sad trip to the office into a psychedelic one that seems to last a moment and a year at the same time, thank you for reminding me of some of my heroes like J Mascis, Neil Young and the everlasting Jerry but most of all thank you for representing a sudden landing in the boundless sea, bringing it all back home… until the next departure…
Originally published on July, 1 2020