In these solitary covid days, grey skies, dulled ideas, web page looking back, groups are facebooks devoted to “old photos”, “80’s”, sepia tinted memories. It’s natural uncertain times, fear, losses, ahead of us, new challenges, new fears, uncertainty, changes, unwanted but irresistible outcomes, leaves us all wanting happier times. These times we’re all a little more conservative in outlook, hold onto our familiar comfort blankets, we’re a little less adventurous, a tad more risk averse, and that’s true in art, looks at paintings on-line, TV shows, all those remakes, reboots, repeats, and what of music.
Posters, e-mails, web-sites, Tours, (if they happen), The Who, Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull, These guys were old when I was in my teens, and they’re still pumping it out, pulling in the Crowds, is it as Robert Plant described a revived Led Zeppelin “ Your own greatest hits juke box”, Perhaps it’s true in the hard rock, metal scenes, nothing wrong with that, people love what they love. I’ve tickets for 808 State, Richard Thompson, and friends are trying to get to relive my first gig, Deep Purple. As said, no problem, but, but, listening to the music reviewed on, in, around OUTSIDELEFT, I find myself wondering, is it a bit staid? A bit derivative? A bit reductive? A past of rock and pop music regurgitated, refeacated?
Let me be clear, I am NOT saying or arguing that bands in their 20’s are just copies of past bands and m-m-m-m- my generation’s musics, ALL music isin essence influenced by what’s gone before. Hush while I tell you that the Beatles began as Chuck Berry copyists, Led Zeppelin were just Elmore James with wattage, and so on, so it goes, and so it goes. This sorta fermented and formulated in my head yesterday evening, tea eaten, waiting for La Liga live and TV direct, gig venue surfing, and snatch listening Outsideleft’s samples of modern sounds. All too many sounded broadly familiar, similar, and I suppose stirred memories. The music is well played, the lyrics evocative, picturesque, plaintive, angry, hopeful and sincere, but strangely left me all too unmoved, uninvolved, and uninspired.
Thinking no more about it, evening drifted past, and sleep called. Last night, sleep drifted, and faded, Radio 2 pap, Radio 5 banter, Radio 3 came on for me. Radio 3, after 23:00, I’d forgotten how revelatory, and mind provoking, and ear opening their music is. It’s a trip in time, a world journey, music from Africa, from the 15th Century, Israel meets Afghanistan meets BlueGrass. It’s a real eye opener, ear opener, soul opener. As they might have said in Star Trek, “It’s music Jim, but not as we know it” and an hour’s listen will teach you how true that is. Last night, Radio 3 delivered a real delight, a Scottish singer, walking in the Scottish lochside, improvising the owls, pigeons, underground rustles, AND NO, no substances, no hangover, or boozed enthused, it was just the delight in the innovative, the imaginative. In the 80s there was talk of music gender bending. For this, think GENRE bending, melding, mixing and splicing.
This Music, ain’t rock and roll for sure, some will hear and say “yeah, IT IS air pollution...” but there’s a magic in the songs, sounds, rhymes, times, patterns, cross continents and time in the change of string. Soundscapes and impressions, takes music back to it’s real roots. When you hear this, it must have been how music started, where ideas came from, how nature's sounds, manipulated became folk songs, and dance music. Did the dance come from the winds songs, were primitive flutes imitation of birds in the bush, on the wing? Listening to Radio 3, you may not get answers but you will get more questions, and that’s the programme’s delight.
Each night is different, themes, ages, nations, regions, some improvised, some minimalist, others highly structured, soundscapes, mixed masters, ideas shared, and new works developed, new sounds, new patterns, new ideas, old bottles, old, new, borrowed, blue. It’s a great way to hear music, and in these days, dark covid days. These sounds, these performers a delight, open ears, open minds, open hearts, this truly is ‘outside leftfield’ music for these somewhat staid, corseted, buttoned down, isolated times.
This really is Left Field music, radical and experimental, innovative and invigorating, ear opening, mind splitting, delighting and entrancing. Outside leftfield, IT really, really is that, outside and way beyond what we usually hear, experience, or delight in. Forget thrash, and post apocalyptic, rejuvenated, grunge thrash dub folk, listen to music that defies the present, and portends the future. It makes modern Jazz sound like Eurovision, AND I proudly bathe in the esoteric delights of modern Jazz.
Radio 3 BBC I-player, programmes after 23:00, themes, ideas, sounds, tempting samplers, for some, well me actually, a relief, a change, a true sound of the Leftfield, that’s further out than OUTSIDELEFT is outside the mainstream, outside the usual, outside the norm, give Radio 3 your ears, hearts, and times, and enjoy something you may never have heard.
Sound and rhythms you’ll be intrigued entranced and beguiled by, Left Field Music, inside your head, left behind, leaving behind, outside the box, beyond the horizon, ahead of the curve.In short to update the old 60s saying, Turn on, Tune in, go outside left, explore and enjoy.
Sara Mohr-Pietsch’s incredible sonic journeys on Radio 3 after 11pm
Main Image by Skitterphoto at Pexels