I should probably begin with a little housekeeping, a minor info dump before we fully invest in opening communications. When we parted ways, I did not for a second think two whole years would have to pass before I felt comfortable in my writing again. I hoped that a month or two of detox would give me the jolt required to up my game and bring you a leaner, better blog than before. But such is life, old plans fall by the wayside as others rise ascendant. It’s best not to worry about would could have been when you can set yourself on the path to what shall be; for during those years both nothing has changed and everything has changed. New cities, new friends, and new outlooks have become part of the story (which I’m sure you’ll pick up as we go forwards) whilst I remain the same, simple fan of music, listening religiously and endlessly ‘discovering’ things that just make me want to scream joy from the rooftops. Throughout these fallow years there has been so much I have wanted to share. So many songs, bands, artists and thoughts have come to me, but never could I find the strength to lift up the metaphorical pen. It has caused me to miss you, deeply. But now I feel I have run out of excuses. At the dawn of this new decade, why deny myself your company any longer? Welcome back to the Appraisal.
Cards on the table, I dropped the ball on Siouxsie and the Banshees. My musical upbringing, as painstaking noted throughout the course of this blog, hopped from 90s pop and early 20th Century classical directly to nu-metal pretty much the moment I turned 14. While I’d like the record to show that I have no shame in this fact (because what’s the point), it did mean that I’ve spent much of the ensuing 20 years filling in the gaps in my musical experience. So despite my deep and sincere affection for all things Bowie, despite a mid-20s flirtation with Gary Newman, and despite the cultural cache inherent in liking seminal 80s acts; Siouxsie to me was just an occasional talking head. A cool one, no doubt, but the actual music of the Banshees seemed forever on the “I’ll get round to it at some point” pile. It wasn’t until a few years ago when my sib started sharing Siouxsie songs with me (in turn tilting my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist in a noticeably gothic direction) that I got it. The hype, that is. Quite Badly.
So, what makes this song great? To be honest, if you’re reading this blog expecting me to enlighten you with my accredited perspective, turn back now. Return to those musical influencers on YouTube who promise to reveal arcane truths in a neat, advert friendly, 10-minute bubble. We don’t use knowledge as a weapon here, nor do we enforce cultural hierarchies through the presentation of the subjective as fact. The only question I can answer (as best I am able) is what makes this song great for me? And the answer? Context, mostly. It’s been a funny few years, filled with pretty solid highs and the most utterly crushing of lows that you can imagine (as you likely felt them too). When a cultural utterance (such as song, film, experience etc.) hits you in this state, it’s hard to fully explain why one specific thing appears in the moment greater than all others. Dazzle, in a roundabout way, came to me at such a time. Flo (my sib) had previously sent over Spellbound and I’d given 1981’s ‘Juju’ a few spins out of curiosity. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that Dazzle – Glamour Mix, a 12” version present on the 2009 expanded reissue of ‘Hyæna’, popped up on Spotify and my life became staring blankly into space as tumultuous drums and aching strings jaggedly demarcated the territory of my soul. Like, I’m not even joking. I was in a place, man. Can’t quite remember if it was dark or light but my feels were certainly unbalanced enough to afford this song an extra subjective beauty for me.
It’s not a complicated song. It doesn’t need to be. The notion that complexity is by anyway the absolute mark of accomplishment is deeply flawed. It is something I have exceptionally strong feels over to the extent that I always have to hold myself back from leaving aggressive comments on certain ‘recommended’ music vloggers. To me, the avoidance of complexity within the arrangement (beyond the luscious string intro) specifically imbues Dazzle with an incisive intensity lacking in much contemporary music. We don’t always need to be a born-again Rube Goldberg with our intent. We don’t need endless textural shifts and overdubs to stake our creative ground. Sometimes it is enough to just need to quietly stare into someone’s eyes as their knife hits your gullet. Simple. Pure. A clean death, free from worry. That final contented sigh.
Of course, we speak in metaphors, it is the done thing. The death is symbolic but no less real for it. The who I was before is not entirely who I am now. For one thing, now I am writing and now we are talking. As mentioned, I’ve listened to a hell of a lot since we parted and have a huge backlog of things to say (and not all of them on contemporary music influencers…), but Dazzle is as good a point as any with which to tentatively get back into the swing of things. Got to make a start somewhere. After all, as Siouxsie says: “Pull some strings, let them sing”
Well now we are back in earnest, why not dip back into the halcyon years by having a read of these related posts:
Judge not, lest ye be judged. If you feel the urge to subjectively critique my own musical work you can find it by clicking here.