Well, Mother Nature decided to allow a window for me to get outside after work to accomplish today’s 10.68k fartlek run so I took her up on her kind offer and got ma shit done up and down Tunder Bay Rd. fo schizzle. My soundtrack this evening was the ‘When I Was Born for the 7th Time‘ by Cornershop.
This album instantly transports me back on London, 1997; I was broke, existing on a strict diet of real ale, Drum rolling tobacco and cheaper-than-cheap lamb kebobs and I couldn’t have been happier about it.
This album represents a remarkable leap forward for Cornershop, the place where the group blends all of their diverse influences into a seamless whole.
The band uses Indian music as a foundation*, finding its droning repetition similar to the trancier elements of electronica, the cut-and-paste collages of hip-hop, and the skeletal melodicism of indie pop. Tying all of these strands together, the band creates a multicultural music that is utterly modern; it is conscious of its heritage, but instead of being enslaved to tradition, it pushes into the future and finds a common ground between different cultures and musics. Like ‘Woman’s Gotta Have It‘, large portions of this album are devoted to hypnotic instrumentals, but the music here is funkier and fully realized.
Cornershop hits an appealing compromise between detailed arrangements and lo-fi technology. There may be cheap keyboards and drum machines scattered throughout the album, but they are used as sonic texturing, similar to the turntables, synthesizers, samplers, sitars, and guitars that drive the instrumentals punctuating the full-fledged songs.
When it chooses, Cornershop can write hooky, immediate pop songs – ‘Sleep on the Left Side‘ and ‘Brimful of Asha‘ (which I must say, the chorus of “every man needs a bosom for a pillow” is as amazing as it is true) are wonderful pop singles, and ‘Good to Be on the Road Back Home‘ is an impressive, country-tinged tale – but what makes this album such a rich, intoxicating listen is that it balances these melodic tendencies with deceptively complex arrangements, chants, drones, electronic instrumentals, and funky rhythms, resulting in an album that becomes better with each listen. The highlight for me that embodies this principle is ‘Good Shit‘ which is, well, really good shit.
Today run was another test in completing 8 x 2 minute intervals at a sub-5k pace and…nailed it. I’m still reacquiring my fitness but this makes three run workouts in a row that I feel somewhat good about so, yeah, things are looking up…unlike the complete fuckwit speeding along in a stupid-sized black pickup that almost ran me over while texting.
*Which might explain why I associated with this album on such a deep level back then as, where I happened to be living at the time (West Ealing), you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting an authentic curry house.