Tag Archives: PJ Harvey

A Bit (And A Half)

It's probably best you don't ask how I wound up putting this picture in this post

Ever on schedule am I… Most everyone has already taken an eye to the music of 2011 thus far, so there’s not a great deal left for me to do but nod in agreement, wonder why I never heard the most lauded¹, and/or troll old threads demanding to know why no one is giving kudos to my favoured releases.

So let’s pretend I’ve done all that, and move on to something more interesting. At least to me.

At the end of last year, I posted my personal favourites of 2010, and included a list of releases I was most looking forward to, as well as a couple of artists I had my fingers crossed for new material. So far, 2½ out of 8 have granted my wish.

First up was Inga Liljeström with the album Black Crow Jane (the first since Elk back in 2005), and a little birdie tells me that yet another album’s worth of material has been recorded, to be released possibly late 2011 or early 2012 (I think-hope). So that’s one, and since I already wrote about it, we’ll move on.

One of the other artists on my “wish list” was My Brightest Diamond. While since A Thousand Shark’s Teeth Shara’s been directly involved in a number of collaborations, guest appearances and so on, (not to mention having a baby), the thought of a new MBD album puts a little extra skip in my step – All Things Will Unwind was announced quite recently, and with a track currently available to download for free via Bandcamp. (Album due October).

The half is for the continuing promise of an album by Joseph Childress. I said most of the important stuff last year, but if you can’t remember back that far (or never read through to the end of the fairly gargantuan “book”, I don’t just want an album by Joseph Childress, I’m quietly disappointed every day there isn’t one.

The recent discovery of this track on Bandcamp – from a compilation featuring 14 San Franciscan artists, out on City Limits Records – will suffice. For now.

Of the albums I was most looking forward to… I’ve ended up with a grand total of 3 out of 11.

PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake was the first, and though I did once attempt to mention something or other about it here, I daresay there’s not a whole heap I can put out there that hasn’t already been said in one form or another. Do I like it? Aye; there’s even a couple of tracks I’m quite fond of. Favourite PJ Harvey album ever? Nah.

Second was Pillars And Tongues’ recent release, The Pass And Crossings. Ok, so technically it’s not out yet, and owing to a error at the pressing plant, the release date has been delayed, but them’s the perks of my job… (That’s not quite true. I can count on one hand the number of labels I’ve specifically contacted in the hopes of acquiring certain releases. For review purposes, of course, and Endless Nest is one of them. I did indeed gush over review this (on [sic]), so I don’t think there’s much more that I can say.

Last was Giles Corey. I’m still processing this one – I read the accompanying book during the first listen, opened my notepad and jotted down the word “imprisonment” – eventually I’ll (re-)twig exactly why, and I’ll come back and explain. In case it’s not clear, though, this is a recommended release.

So, that’s my recap – if you can really call it that. Though it’s a pretty narrow selection of the music I’ve been digging this year (or am yet to), it’s been more difficult (and expensive!) than ever keeping up with as much of the awesome music being released as I can. Don’t pay any attention to anyone who’s saying this year hasn’t delivered – go and pay some attention to music instead.


1. I don’t actually need to wonder why – it’s because I’m rarely interested.


Theme Songs For Favourite Things – Visual Art #1

Visual art is a medium – along with music – that I’ve always wished fervently I could be somewhat competent at. I’ve tried, many times and in many different ways, but apart from a few minorly successful attempts and being somewhat decent if tracing paper is involved, I just don’t have the talent (or perhaps patience and discipline) to bring to life the visions if they’re anything other than messy stick figures with triangular dresses and scribbled hair. Thus, I have a deep respect for anyone that has the talent, skill and dedication to produce works of art in a visual medium.

Favourite Painting – Valkyrie’s Vigil

Painted in 1906 by Edward Robert Hughes, who is responsible for several favoured pieces (I highly recommend visiting this online gallery to view more of his work). Though I really like almost all of the Pre-Raphaelite art and artists associated with the movement, the works of which are often a combination of beautiful, whimsical, romantic, tragic and dramatic, I fell in love with this the moment I first saw it – the tone and colour, the delicate impression of a warrior in a moment of reflection, while the symbols of her duty and power are still present (helmet and sword).

Valkyrie means ‘chooser of the slain‘ – they would, as the name suggests, choose which warriors would die in battle. The strongest of the fallen souls would then be brought  to Valhalla where they would serve in Odin’s army of the dead. The valkyrie is often depicted as a half-naked Amazonian-type warrior in modern art (here’s a typical example), which is what I would call a relatively liberal interpretation of the text, one sprung from fantasy more than the original myths and legends. Though the origins, attributions and specific duties of the valkyrie vary, in Scandinavian mythology (which I am most familar with) they were both in the servitude of Odin and the dead souls they brought to Valhalla, so you can see how the linked example might have evolved… But when I look at this painting I wonder about all the unspoken things, the things implied and the what if’s, and I think to call a valkyrie a warrior is to acknowledge other aspects of the kind of life  one would have lead.

Edward Robert Hughes’ Valkyrie is a far cry from the savage, sometimes beastial woman often seen in modern fantasy art. She is wistful and sad, reaching out to or for something; alone and waiting.  The world beyond her is vast but  altogether as  ethereal as she is. In that light, and what I fancy she’s thinking about, the theme song I’ve chosen for Valkyrie’s Vigil is this beautiful live version of  PJ Harvey‘s Angelene.