Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Trout Mask Replica

Trout Mask Replica
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band

Ok so I’ve read all about it, listened to other people’s descriptions of the recording sessions as well as the ideas and concepts behind the compositions themselves. Frank Zappa produced it; these are all little hooks drawing me in. I’ve now giving it a full listen while on the way to work, a time when I can lock myself away into my little iPod world completely isolated from the outside noise of tinny phone hip hop tracks, moaning old people deciding to go shopping at 8.15am then mumbling that the buses are too busy and general train weirdo’s watching Saw 2 on their laptops while wiping their chang abused noses with their ‘comedy’ ties.

I honestly don’t know what to tell you. Not in 'The Matrix', “nobody can be told what it is, you have to experience it” type of shtick but because it’d be like describing and reviewing the consistency of water, it’s all open to debate and to be fair it’s probably completely pointless anyway. The only way I can talk about this album is to either try and be un-pretentious or simply dive full in and go off the deep end of self congratulation and poetic description.

It doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve ever heard. It is probably one of the only things that I can hear that stops me thinking. There is no visual image of anything that is being played that I could visualise seeing live. I couldn’t imagine any of the music being used in a film for example, it’s too random but strangely intense at the same time. When I was at the height of my own guitar practice obsession I would listen to Jazz music to almost ‘log off’ from playing or thinking about playing as I wasn’t at the level to perform the pieces I was listening to and as they were being performed on instruments such as Horns and Pianos so there was no thread or link to my own guitar playing which would allow me to simply enjoy the music from a normal punters point of view and listen to it as it was intended. I feel the same affinity listening to ‘Trout Mask Replica’, when it starts you start thinking “this can’t be real, they are playing 4 different songs at the same time, it’s pathetic acid fried rubbish”, but at the same time you don’t turn it off, you keep listening and by track 4 you start to have a feeling that if you turn it off or flick to the next track the sonic lights will go off…you need to ride it out and see where this is going (probably nowhere but you need to be sure.)

Out of Captain Beefheart’s back catalogue the album that will always be my favourite would be ‘Safe as Milk’, it has Ry Cooder on slide guitar and it’s generally more song orientated and classic. Even writing this makes me feel like the biggest square and conservative killjoy in the world but I have to be honest, it’s better. Putting this to one side though and returning to the matter at hand I would say that listening to ‘Safe as Milk’ now after experiencing the onslaught of ‘T.M.R’ would be going back to black and white TV after you’ve watched ‘Avatar’ in 3D, it might in fact be your personal preference and sit better with you, but it’s very hard to ignore the fact that you know how deep the rabbit hole goes and then convince yourself you don’t and can’t consider the concept of the alternative once you’ve seen the other.

Once you’ve noticed the strings on the puppets you can’t keep your eyes on anything else.

It’s a phase that needs to be explored and then put away to one side like a little box of madness but I would recommend those who like their rock music freaky to give it a fair shake of the voodoo stick and see what they think.

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