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Song of the day – 576: The Wharton Tiers Ensemble

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This slump. I will pull myself out of it. I must. No one else can – and, more importantly – no one else will do it for me. You hear people say, “I was so depressed I couldn’t get out of bed today”. The luxury! The fucking luxury.

I will do it the way I have always done it, I swear. I swear that’s what will happen. Through music, through being myself. Reclaim the magic. Through validation, through enthusiasm. Through music.

Plan for action, call for arms:

  • Go to shows again. Start with Scrabble tonight at the Tribal Theatre. Fine venue, awesome band. People who hurt and are confused by what hurts, same as me. Well … (thinks) … not same as me but…
  • Reclaim my friends
  • Reclaim my community
  • Listen to music again. Be unafraid of the images and memories it sparks. Some will hurt because so little happens these days. Some won’t. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THE PAST.

… which brings us to The Wharton Tiers Ensemble.

This morning, I’m reminded of a particularly memorable visit to Manhattan’s meatpacking district, back in 1990 or thereabouts. I show up at this studio door, ready to record my Sub Pop single ‘Do Nuts’, wired and excitable on my first visit to New York City. A fellow answers the door, Wharton Tiers (Sonic Youth’s engineer), and asks, “Where’s the band?” I reply, “It’s just me. Let’s go!” He says, “So where are your instruments?” I reply, “It’s just me, let’s go!”

Later, Joey Ramone calls up the studio to apologise. “Is Jerry there? I’m real sorry, but I can’t make it down to the studio today.” I’d talked him into coming down to record backing vocals on my a cappella rendition of ‘Rockaway Beach’.

Ah well.

So. This song comes on my iTunes player at random. First off, I think it’s The Cannanes or at least something bearded from Melbourne – there’s a marked similarity in the tonality, and the high-pitched harmonics. The rhythm, the sense of movement. I think maybe it’s the new Cannanes album, which I really should get around to hearing. Then I know it can’t be: this is instrumental and too orchestral. So I search around in my mind for similar groups: Brisbane’s The Stress Of Leisure perhaps or Brisbane’s The Apartments? Hmm. No, can’t be. Too polished. Reminds me of a second album Buzzcocks song, obliquely. So I check it out. My main engineer man, Wharton! With an ensemble. That’s SIR Wharton Tiers to you punkette, man who’s drummed with the Bangs almighty (and unfairly unknown) No Wave band Theoretical Girls (ft. Glenn Branca) and Laurie Anderson. Man who’s recorded… ah just go check the Wikipedia page same as I did, why don’t you?

I haven’t heard of Glorious Strangers before, but perhaps I should.

Nice. And here’s Theoretical Girls. Fucking incredible.

I rarely listen to music these weeks. I just want to turn everything off when I’m by myself. I’m often by myself. So I turn everything off. Play a computer game as mindless as possible on my iPod (on the bus or in bed), or on my computer. Doesn’t matter. Try not to acknowledge the outside. Try to avoid the smell of defeat. Try not to acknowledge the constant unchanging outside, and the way … I can’t listen to music. It’s too evocative. Better not to hear or see anything.

(Song of the day – 575: Scout Niblett)

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