Sunday, February 20, 2011

Black Swan

Perhaps a bit of serendipity that the week that I finish a review of an album by Black Swan that Darren Aronofsky’s brilliant film Black Swan opens in Barcelona. They have nothing to do with each other except perhaps a spiralling sense of darkness. But whereas the films claustrophobia is highly energised and sexualised, the album is detached and objective, but hardly emotionless.

Essentially an album length ritual, “In 8 movements” conjures up feelings of descent and drowning. In particular, listening to the album gave me the recurrent image of a scene from Yukio Mishima’s novel “Thirst for love” where the embittered and emotionally tormented widow Etsuko is finishing her bath and, in a wonderful stream of consciousness, Mishima describes her life whirling down and out with the bath water. Strange, that one can be parched and thirsty and yet drown at the same time…
"Until the moment of her death, it seemed, no one would know she was drowning."
But as a tangent, the music of the film Black Swan, as well as several other Aronofsky films, was done by Clint Mansell, once of 80s/90s group Pop Will Eat Itself (PWEI or the Poppies). Despite a somewhat aborted attempt at a reunion in the last few years, they seem largely forgotten and written out of the history of the great indie-electronica cross over of the time. Arguably an album like Screamadelica is better than their watershed “This Is The Day...This Is The Hour...This Is This!” or even “Cure for Sanity”, but still, one shouldn’t forget their worthwhile contributions.

To go even further on a tangent, one of the Poppies highlights was their tongue in cheek song for the Italia ’90 World Cup. Overall a mixed success, but then English groups singing pro-Italian songs about porn star prostitutes is never going to take you far.

The title is a pun on the New Order track “Touched by the Hand of God” from around the same time which also pays its own homage to the previous World Cup in Mexico and the actions of Diego Maradona. New Order also released a track for Italia ’90 that was England’s official song and featured an embarrassed looking Liverpool striker John Barnes in the video. Although not featuring prostitutes, the cheeky line “E for England” somehow went unnoticed at the time, despite being an obvious pro-drug reference. Would you get away with it nowadays? Not sure, but since the father of Chelsea captain and ex-England captain John Terry was arrested for selling cocaine, it could possibly slip through.

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