SKY SHAPING

         

 

An appreciation of The The’s Trilogy Box: Radio Cineola Volumes 4,5,6 (Cineola/Lazarus 2017)  

 

 

Night sounds in the day. The preposition’s adjusting.

Shifting in his chair, from the evening, darkness composed,

Across dawn. Matt Johnson takes care of the moon,

By refocusing light on the city, powering it with electronics

And the appraisals of those who shape scorn.

 

In this trilogy box, a master musician scores protest.

As everyone knows, music masters what language

At its very best can part serve.  Perhaps that’s why

These last years the songwriter fell silent,

As it would seem that his personal sound spoke succinctly

 

Traversing the expected use of known words.

But now a new song is here, detailing a loss, but reviving

The sacred love for a sibling who this melody brings to life.

We Can’t Stop What’s coming, indeed. But Johnson commands

Its attention, with ‘the taste of tears’ and new darkness

 

Muse and music meet singer as fresh poetries  realign.

After the soundtracks, Moonbug and for his younger brother’s

Films, Tony and Hyena, The The’s music graces its own intense

Images. There is a world in decline; political, economic,

A world of sharp ashes and increasingly crushed villages.

 

Communties of the mind, if not in the suburbs.

As Johnson looks out on London, from spells in the Middle East

And New York he sees that we need some new reformation

In which the fusion of forces can be held in the hand,

Bottled, bought. But we must learn to see what is truly

 

Changing around us if we are to uncover the parasite

Worm in the blood. CD ONE, Volume Four features twelve

Past successes. A series of outsider covers soothes some of

The The’s strongest songs. Each one has been slowed, stripped and served

By a host of European musicians, as if a glacier of protection

 

Has caught the cold sunlight to illuminate for us

All that’s wrong. This is the Day calls for change in either aggressor

Or victim. Thomas Feiner forewarns in lugubrious drawl what takes place.

Gravitate To Me’s energy as displayed on Mind Bomb

Is here a mask’s warning on the duo Elysian Field’s shining face.

 

Love is Stronger than Death, always one of Johnson’s great Titles,

Under Tom Bright’s acoustic allows this celebration to affirm

That The The in their day were better and truly ‘bluer than midnight’

And that all the night’s colours, were, through the instruments’ played

Ours to learn. Packaged now in this box and in a book like case,

 

Music’s volume attains bibliographic importance,

And with Johnson’s new song shows the day

Is his once again as what could be called a rock band become landscape;

A frontier to draw faith from as each of us front the affray.

CD TWO, Volume Five shows some of Johnson’s own struggle,

 

Featured in Johanna St..Michael’s documentary,

The Intertia Variations, we see Johnson at work at Radio Cineola

His new aural incarnation that makes a website a new method

And form of release. As the music industry dies, Johnson

Pioneers  renewed struggle. He recites John Tottenham’s epic poem

 

Over electronica and found sound. 71 stanzas relate

The calamitous hold of inaction, while Johnson’s  fire

Is breaking through surrounding stone to shape ground.

The dilemma of the artist is seen and heard through these verses

As ‘ a destructive over-awareness  of time/Knives through the spaces

 

Of a hot afternoon,’ The world’s cold. As we grow older we need

More and more time to deliver, but just as some of its taken,

What will remain can’t be sold. Johnson shows this

Through his empathetic recital. One can hear his soul gather,

Mining at dusk, what’s to come. One is aware of an artist at work

 

And feels that after resting the spirit there can be a host

Of new stages from which new things to say have begun.

On CD THREE, Volume Six, Johnson broadcasts from Midnight

To Midnight. He interviews  and converses

With a range of experts on hand. William Engdahl. Neil Clark.

 

Marian St. Laurent. David Edwards. Abdi Assadi. Neil Sanders.

Lucinda Rogers and Zoe Hepden. Each detail the plight through small

And sometimes vast premonition, while  beneath Johnson soundtracks

With cloud crusted keyboards, radios and tape loops,

All that’s to fear and all there is to discover.

 

A new way of being and for the prisoner’s  chains to fall loose.

The internal bird flees the coop and signs the sky scarred above us.

Radio Cineola’s stark protest is the music of air whipped by wings.

Here then, is the way to really know what is coming.

And to change what will happen by what you oppose, know and sing.

 

In rearranging his past Johnson’s The The detail futures

In which the fucked present can learn to love everything.

He has remastered the day and granted glaze to the darkness.

He has rebroadcast a new way to ask what and why.

Here is music that speaks as it joins thought to feeling.

 

Here are clouds christened with the power to stain and shape sky.

 

 

David Erdos 3rd November 2017


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