What music are we listening to at Polari HQ this week?
I discovered Perfume Genius via a link to their video for ‘Hood’, which featured the unlikely coupling of sweet-faced frontman Mike Hadreas and super butch porn star Arpad Miklos. This visual treat, together with the beauty of Hadreas’s voice and lyrics meant that I was hooked on the spot. On the strength of this 2 minute-long piece of musical perfection, I rushed out to buy the album, which I have been listening to non-stop ever since.
All the tracks on the album are very short (from a mere 1”49 to 3”18 for the longest one). The melodies are always subtle yet memorable and how anyone can convey so much emotion in such a short amount of time I don’t know, but Hadreas certainly does. Definitely the new voice of Queer American music.
Michael Langan - Cut The World by Antony and the Johnsons
This is an album of (mostly) previously released songs beautifully arranged by collaborators like the young genius Nico Muhly, and band-members Maxim Moston and Rob Moose, performed live with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra. Honestly, it’ll break your heart. The album’s title track is a new song taken from Antony Hegarty’s opera The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic. If you haven’t seen the video to Cut the World do look it up – but be warned, it’s not for the faint-hearted. The second track is not a song at all but an off-the-cuff monologue delivered by Hegarty entitled Future Feminism in which he proclaims himself to be a witch and wishes for, amongst other things, systems of feminine governance throughout the world. It’s brilliant and crazy and funny and serious and makes me glad to be alive at the same time as him.
Andrew Darley - Gareth Pugh Fashion Soundtracks by Matthew Stone
I discovered Matthew Stone’s music about two months through Gareth Pugh’s fashion films. I was instantly floored by his hybrid of electronic, industrial, classical and dance music. As clichéd as it may seem, the soundtracks sound exactly the way the Pugh’s clothes look; futuristic, precise, forward-thinking and sometimes alien. The tracks range from 10 up to 17 propulsive minutes, and trust me you can get lost in them. Luckily he has uploaded the soundtracks to his soundcloud account. Here’s hoping he may venture to make an album one day!
Marcus Reeves - Scars by Ian Shaw
This track is taken from jazz supremo Ian Shaw’s latest project A Ghost In Every Bar with composer, pianist and producer Simon Wallace. The album pays tribute to the work of their friend and legendary lyricist Fran Landesman and fulfils Ian’s promise to devote an entire album to her songs.
I first met Ian Shaw in New York when I was out there on the Stonewall Equality Walk (and to see Boy George’s ill-fated ‘Taboo’ on Broadway). I’ve followed his work since and have been lucky enough to perform with him a couple of times at the South Bank Centre. I was drawn to this album as I’d meant to go to see Fran Landseman in concert with Ian and Simon, but didn’t make it and sadly she died not long after.
‘Scars’ is a regular part of Shaw’s encyclopedic live repertoire and is a perfect example of Fran Landesman’s wit and wordplay, where vivid and lucid images can twist from romantic to funny to painful in the space of a few bars. The song captures the fear we all feel about showing our true selves to others, but asks the listener to celebrate their losses and lacks as much as their personal strengths.
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