Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mark Hollis and Talk Talk

First I want to say that I find it kind of funny what my blog is turning out to be. I had envisioned a space where I would incorporate a little bit of everything that interests me - music, Francophilia, food, counterculture. But I see now who I am based on what I blog about. 1. Music 2. Books 3. Love 4. Angst. Wow. Kind of a shocker.

Okay, today I am absolutely in love with a singer. Check out this face:


Watch the whole thing and see how his expressions change and how his face lights up when he laughs. Not only does he have an incredible face but he's also in possession of a very beautiful voice, which I had taken for granted back in the '80s when it was (well, kind of) all over the radio. I've recently, as in last night at about 3:30 am, rediscovered this band and wonder why I never realized how good they were back then. The whole band was talented - watch the drummer in this clip, and that keyboardist - damn! And watch his movements as he sings:


Mark Hollis moves me. He had this amazing voice, and an amazing band that had moved from pop synthesizer cuteness into a very different, experimental kind of phase with their last album. They seemed to be on the cusp of a real creative breakthrough when they decided to call it quits in 1991. Hollis retired from making music and moved into the English countryside with his family. Except for one solo jazz-influenced album in 1998, he's basically lived life as a "recluse musicale" as one French article put it.

I always liked Talk Talk, and even understood that they were very much an underrated talent. But watching and hearing them now makes me realize how incredible they really were. Their songs, especially the later ones, are complex works of art. The band strived for something beyond traditional pop sensibilities, resulting in music that is timeless. Mark's voice is rich, powerful, melancholy. I can't say anything about this band that will do them justice, so I'll borrow Glenn McDonald's words. This is one of the most astute observations I've ever read, on any subject, actually. It's from his blog "The War Against Silence" and he's referring to Talk Talk's next-to-last album, Spirit of Eden:

The spaces between notes are as carefully articulated as the notes themselves; the sounds of fingers coming off strings are as important as the sounds of them going on; it is less an album of songs than a forty-one minute aural-Cubist magnification and refraction of the pooled essences of two dozen musicians sharing a room for a single reverent moment. No work of art has ever made me more sure that there is an animus in human lives that transcends physiology, because I could swear, when I'm listening to Spirit of Eden, that I can hear it whispering.

One more clip, this one of my favorite song of theirs, Renee. Ah, Mark...:

Pay special attention from about 5:40 on. Based on what he does vocally it makes sense that he later moved into a more jazz (read improvisational) kind of direction. I love what one commentor said on the YouTube page: Yes, he's the one. The great lost "heavy soul" of our genaration. Spelling difficulties aside, I totally agree.


caryl said...

I've been doing quick drive-bys since we've been on vacation, so I'm sorry I haven't had time to comment.

It'll be good to get home and back to my old routine!

Julie said...

What the hell is wrong with these old posts? Why is the page all wonky? I was using my old piece of shit laptop when these were posted...maybe that's why.

My apologies.