‘The soundtrack to accompany fear, excitement and a wish for things to be better’ – Niall McGuirk on Carla Bozulich‘s Boy

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The great thing about writing reviews and indeed doing a radio show (have to get a plug in somehow http://radioactiveinternational.org/dj/the-hope-show/) is discovering music that is new to me. Of course, for many reading this my newness is about as fresh as that melon I bought at Christmas fully intending to eat, however please bear with me as I expose my lack of knowledge.

Carla started recording in 1982 when I was taking up guitar and a Clash songbook. Unbelievably she featured (obviously unbeknownest to me) on one of my favourite records of the 90’s, Mike Watt’s Ball-Hog or Tugboat. She has collaborated with Watt, Thurston Moore, Lydia Lunch, Wayne Kramer and Wilco amongst a legion of others. And she now has a new record out, on Constellation Records – her third for the label.

Of course being on Constellation Records should be enough of a recommendation. I come from a time when a release on a record label (in my era it was Dischord, Sarah Records, SST and Cherry Red) meant that I sought it out regardless of the band. We used to spend our time scouring through records looking for a label like Anagram or even a producer that was familiar to us. Of course there was no internet for research and words from peoples mouths meant a lot. So Constellation Records would have been collectable. They released Vic Chestnutt after all, what more do you want (oh and Godspeed You Black Emperor and on and on the list goes)

Listening to Boy conjours up an image of a smoke filled jazz cafe where we plot the revolution in one corner. It is the soundtrack to accompany fear, excitement and a wish for things to be better. Whilst the lyrics aren’t leading the way it is the avant garde free form sound of a label and an artist doing something that they want rather than trying to please an audience.

There are layered vocals, atmospheric guitar and simple bass riffs to accompany the beat. It stops it starts and it challenges.

Drowned To The Light‘ introduces a violin to the proceedings and almost a tune breaks through with a strong vocal. It gives memories of Vic Chestnut and the beautiful songs he wrote while with us.

All throughout the music our revolutionary ideas can spring forward. In the sparse dreamlike sound of ‘Don’t Follow Me‘, you get a singalong soundscape of a chorus. You can imagine the dance movement accompanying this. Drifting across a stage with a sense of purpose that only art can produce. You get creeping, ranting vocals at times. It is all very strangely alluring. In ‘Gonna Stop Killing‘ we get a mix of sounds which could almost be a punk German kabaret. Agnes Bernel may or may not join in but you could certainly see a place for her here.

And so 43 minutes after it drifts in with its smoke filled vision it ends. The revolution didn’t happen, but we can dream. Carla’s mix of art and sounds and dreams can accompany it, we just need to pay more attention.

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