there’s no code for this: stories by forgets

February 8, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

forgets – and my equal vegetates for her boy (self-released download)

forgets – Bedroom​/​Redboom (self-released download)

forgets – we are joke man (self-released download)

forgets – Everybody Limps Here (Live At Hogwash 3) (self-released download)

forgets - and my equalforgets - bedroom-redboomforgets - we are joke manforgets - everybody limps here

Y’know, I haven’t touched a drop in some time. Whilst changing medication a couple of years ago I noticed that the accompanying advice also changed to the sternly worded ‘avoid alcohol’. ‘Hmmm…’, I thought, ‘surely moderation in all things, eh? A little whistle moistener won’t do any harm…’ But I was wrong. That little experiment was over quickly and the results were conclusive. Ugh. After some thought, I decided to use the circumstances as a reason to just stop drinking alcohol completely. Best to keep it simple, no exceptions to the rule.

I haven’t missed it really. Well, there have been one or two fraught occasions where a bit of social lubricant would have oiled my squeaky hinges, but other than that: good riddance. I was a lousy drunk: overbearing, unpredictable, prone to bouts of nihilistic irresponsibility. Sure, fun at the time (for me at least, if not those around me) but for a sufferer of depression the hungover self-loathing following a weekend of ‘self-medication’ was dangerously close to unendurable. I don’t think I ever had a problem with drink, as such, but I lived on the same street as the problem for a while and it isn’t a happy neighbourhood. I suppose that there is a possible world not too far from our own where I ended up as an incidental character in a track by forgets…

I first encountered the duo of Kroyd and Mitch (words and guitar respectively, stage names – natch) at the Hogwash night where I last played as midwich.  What with Chrissie Caulfield also on the bill that gig proved a revelation.  Props again to Dave, Noah and Benbow for organising things.  May I encourage my dear readers to support their ongoing endeavour.

Over Mitch’s improv noise guitar – filtered through an impressive daisy chain of effects pedals – Kroyd told us a story, off the top of his head, of how repeated exposure to a song by Ronan Keating led him to jack in his job and instead roll up at Wetherspoon’s at 8am each morning instead.  There he helped defuse a tricky situation between the staff and two other early bird punters.  It’s a love story.  Kinda.  In-between chapters Kroyd read poetry/stories/routines from a sheath of notes.  These fell to the floor as he scrabbled through them one handed, his other busy with the mic or a large glass of red wine.  It had the dishevelled drama, the nervous shaky energy of someone who will ‘be alright once I’ve got this down me.’

I loved it.  In fact I’d loved ‘em since the soundcheck when Kroyd checked the mic line by reading his asthma clinic appointment letter whilst Mitch’s guitar gruffly weeped.  Others weren’t so sure.  A highly regarded comrade of mine told me ‘I don’t like someone talking when the guitar is talking.’  At first I dismissed this objection as daft, pretentious even, then I thought about it and… dismissed it again.  It is bloody daft.  The arrangement seemed appropriate to me.  A hip New York beat poet can have a double bass player picking out the rhythm.  Thus a poet from Yorkshire documenting the pitiful consolations, pyrrhic victories and gallows humour of a life, shall we say, not steeped in luxury can have a noise guitar emphasising his own ebb and flow.  It makes perfect sense.

My friend’s comment also underestimates, in my humble opinion, the extent to which the band really is a duo.  They were clearly listening to each other and reacting accordingly, both altering tone and tempo as the narrative required.  Anyway, this performance was recorded and has surfaced on the forgets Bandcamp page so you can listen and judge for yourselves.

After the gig I hastily followed things up and downloaded the other albums available.  Kroyd himself described this work to me as hit and miss but he is unnecessarily self-deprecating (he admits on one track to being passive-aggressive – which is a classic passive-aggressive double bluff, of course).  Yeah, the recording is raw but I don’t care about that.  The noise comes in two basic flavours: an agreeably spacious post-punk boom and rattle or an actual-punk anarcho-chug which wouldn’t seem out of place in a black-and-white wraparound sleeve.

The writing/storytelling is ramshackle or tightly controlled or improvised or carefully thought out or very funny or chokingly bleak – often all at once.  we are joke man has its moments but I’m going to discuss a few examples from the other two: Bedroom/Redboom – a 22 minute epic with instrumental coda – and and my equal vegetates for her boy – an album containing 19 tracks all titled with words beginning with the letter ‘D’.

The latter describes a battle-scarred past, a banal, bureaucratic present and a militaristic, totalitarian future. The songs and stories share themes and are linked with repetitions and reprises. Sometimes a passage that appears to be a gushing stream of consciousness is repeated word for word in another context. This gives the unnerving impression that all this is happening at once, now, or is waiting just around the corner.

The opener, ‘Divide’, is a harrowing report of protesters slaughtered at a checkpoint. But we are not allowed the luxury of imagining this is happening in some far-off land. The leader of the demonstration is a taxi driver from Doncaster, a grocer from Leeds helps with the banner. What has happened that has led to this? ‘Doors’ describes a group of strangers gathered mute and motiveless outside Kroyd’s house. It’s part Tubeway Army-style paranoia, part ‘Shadow Over Innsmouth’ dread and part delirium tremens. The closing ‘Duke #2’ ends with a bitter lament for all the ‘war mad little boys.’

I realise that by now you are probably thinking ‘whoo boy, tough listen’ and, well, yeah, in parts it is but, crucially, it is really good. As well as the doom there is drama (see ‘Disc’ about an ex-boy band star stealing a song from the narrator’s garage punk band) and a lot of humour (see ‘Donkey’ a joyous account of cheering up an emo horse). There are plenty of lines and images to make you guffaw on the bus too – even in this Orwellian future ‘robots cook your tea’. Ah, not all bad, eh?

‘Bedroom’ is framed with a semi-prepared story of Kroyd being visited by Death.  This set-up made me laugh (Death can’t be bothered explaining it all, just mentions A Christmas Carol and hands Kroyd a scroll of terms and conditions to read) and, like the gig recording, is interspersed with poetry and sub-routines throughout.  One of these routines is a long list of things that scare Kroyd – basically everything – which starts off as amusing but becomes electrifying as the impotent rage and despair at the ridiculousness of it all boils into a shouted fury mirrored by Mitch’s increasingly violent accompaniment.  This peaks, breaks and mutates into a beautiful poem – ‘we invented death’ – that is disarmingly profound.  It is a terrific, stomach-flipping moment.  The first time I heard this I was on my walk to work and realised that even at my dawdling pace I was going to reach the office before it finished.  So I stopped, leaned on a convenient wall, ignored the suspicious glances of fellow commuters and heard it out.

I suggest you download all this, get your coat on, find a suitable wall or bench yourself and do the same.  Maybe we can meet in the pub later to discuss it.  Just a coke for me, thanks.

forgets at Bandcamp.

Leave a Comment »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: