One of the very first posts I wrote here was about album covers. Well, not about album covers specifically, it was about Led Zeppelin and a couple of their rather impressive sleeves. I may also have mentioned Gary Numan.
Anyway, as a result of the generosity of Jo’s dad, John, I can now enjoy those sleeves that fascinated me as a kid as much as I want. Yes, dear reader, I am now the proud owner of vinyl copies of Led Zeppelin III, Physical Graffiti and, still in the brown paper bag, In Through The Out Door. There’s something that this gesture from John, not the first time he’s left me speechless in the last 9 months, that feels a bit like the passing down of a family heirloom. I feel very, very, touched that he should pass these albums down to me and I know my mum will be very jealous. In fact, knowing that my dad nicked her vinyl copy of Physical Graffiti when they separated, it almost feels as though the right thing to do would be to wrap it up for her for Christmas.
I don’t have much to say about the music that lies within these magical covers, not right now anyway. Though it’s only in the last ten years that I’ve begun listening to them seriously, Zeppelin have, one way or another, been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I do love Zep III though, for me that is one of their very best albums. I don’t think you’ll find many better introductions to an album than the fearsome Immigrant Song. Friends is a beautiful lament to lost friendship, Celebration Day lent a slightly frenzied feel by whatever it is Jimmy Page (I assume) is playing. And then there is Since I’ve Been Loving You. And that song is one of the best songs ever written. End of.
I bet you’re wondering what that image at the top of the page is now? Well, you would be if I hadn’t captioned it. Well, speaking of striking album covers, this is the one that adorns Mimikry: a collaboration between Alva Noto and, former Bad Seed, Blixa Bargeld. Bargeld is also, on the off chance that you don’t know, the founding member of German industrial band, Einsturzende Neubauten. I also got an Einsturzende album for my birthday, this one:
Good cover, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it also happens to mark the moment Einsturzende turned away from the industrial music they are famous for. Not a problem, it is a good album (and an album I will have more to say about at some point in the future). But I would like do hear them, you know, do their thing. So I will be investigating further- any recommendations?
Mimikry is something else altogether. Completely entranced by a track called Ret Marut Handshake- I may have mentioned this previously, I decided I had to have this album- though I had to trust in Jo buying it for my birthday as, in the weeks before my birthday, new purchases were embargoed. She did and I love it. Fall opens proceedings with a two minute long scream that will, definitely, scare your cats. That scream repeats at various points throughout the album too. It’s some weird mix of voices in the background, electronica, horror soundtracks, traditional songs and a cover of the Nilsson song, One. Which is excellent, simple decending notes entwined with keyboard washes over a tender Blixa Bargeld vocal. And that scream again.
Having been able to listen to the album only in the last week (and a lot of it being in German) I think it’s been difficult to get right into it, mainly because you don’t really know what’s being sung about. But songs like Ret Marut Handshake and Once Again lend the album the air of a futuristic radio broadcast as voices rise and fall above blasts of static, at least until Ret Marut… turns into a mid paced jungle type track halfway through. The song that I’ve been particularly entranced by is called Bernsteinzimmer, which translates as Amber Room. It’s five minutes long and 4 minutes of that is the most haunting music I’ve heard for some time. Only in the last minute of the song, do we get some Bargeld vocals, but to be honest, I could listen to the instrumental for ages.
Overall, there is just an atmosphere about this album that I love. I would say that it falls away a bit in the second half of proceedings, but it still gets a big thumbs up for me. I’ve being racking my brains and braining my cd rack to try and find anything in it that reminds me of this album, the closest I think I’ve come is Alan Wilder’s Recoil album, Unsound Methods. Not that this is particularly like that, but if you’ve heard Unsound Methods and enjoyed it, then I strongly recommend this album to you.