Thursday, 26 November 2009
15. The Valleys, Electrelane (2004)
In 2005, we started a club. Not that it felt like a club. It was held in a pub, once a month, on a Sunday afternoon, full of unwashed pint glasses and dust, where my friends and I would sit about, yammer hind legs off horses, and gently get pissed. We called it The Light Programme. Its purpose, a bit like the Reith lectures, we'd laugh, was to inspire, educate and entertain. And so we would play songs that clashed wildly with each other for the fun of it, while people read their papers and washed away last night's hangovers. I Want To Be Evil by Eartha Kitt would rub noses with Autopsy by Fairport Convention, while Adult. would stare coolly at Alice Coltrane. As they did, the sun would stream through the windows, the bitter making us dizzy, the Observer getting blurry.
I used to play this song by Electrelane almost every month. It came from The Power Out from the previous year, and it suited those woozy Sabbath days perfectly. There was something both sultry and sinister about the cinema organ as it started, something slyly seductive about that slow, beating drum. Then there were the vocals of the Chicago A Capella choir, the undeniable magic of those ah-ah-ah ah-ah-ahhhhs, the words from Siegfried Sassoon's A Letter Home rising through the gloom.
I also loved Electrelane because they were four peculiar women, who lived in four different parts of the world, whose songs stabbed and sparkled with a post-punky anarchy – they were the Delta 5 for my digital age. They also referenced 16th century Catalan poets and Friedrich Nietzsche in their songs, and, to me at least, became the worthy lyrical successors of Kate Bush and the Pet Shop Boys. They were also the band Rebecca and I would cue up when we wanted a 6pm singalong, at the point in the day when we'd had just enough ciders.
This song also reminds me of the time – the first time – that me and him got back together; that same summer where Stuart Staples kept telling me what to do. And although Dan and I ran the club with our friends, we'd work on it for hours together, making flyers, choosing CDs, having lunches we didn't need to. This song still reminds me of those moments where I thought it might work, and how wonderful everything sounded when I knew that it could.