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File under: Aural Documentary

Simon Fisher Turner

Savage Songs of Brutality and Food. By the Extreme Angels of Parody (LP)

Label: Soleilmoon

Format: LP

Genre: Sound Art

Out of stock

The worlds of sound art and child-rearing collide on an album of children's songs and chants collaged and transformed by Simon Fisher Turner

LP version. "... It's the first thirteen years or so of our children's lives made into cute and cruel songs of experimentation and, yes, chaos again. So, from the first heartbeat (not included here) to just under two years ago, I randomly and sometimes secretly recorded them singing or talking, often encouraged of course by me. That's what parents do. I recorded for 13 years. It's rather wonderful to have sound documents as opposed to pictures. Luckily I have both and I'm still rediscovering forgotten sounds even now. This is a music/sound diary (perhaps) of the frankly mad, cute, annoying, moving, innocent, loud, loving, embarrassing, noises of their lives up to now, as recorded and messed up by me, as in messed-up-and-I-don't-care, but do I care. I try to edit with clarity where needed, but otherwise the vocals and ideas are pretty raw and unaltered for the sweeter market of pop . . . I was a dad with slithers time on my hands and a Mac I could barely understand. I made tracks/songs, whatever you want to call them between cooking, cleaning, bathing, shopping, driving, and sleeping ad infinitum. It's the three of us mainly, with The Elysian Quartet thrown together for The Mighty Dinosaur song, but I'm the leader, the captain of the ship. You always need a Captain and they were my sonic crewmates, even though they were often press-ganged into service reluctantly. There will be no Volume Two. They've eventually got really fed up with me doing this, and I can't blame them one bit, but when faced with all these bits of songs or, fragments of stuff, what do you do? Throw them in the bin, give them to them on their wedding day and really make them cringe? No. The best thing to do is to compile them like a mix tape and keep your fingers crossed that someday, someone might be interested in releasing a compilation of this madness. Charles Powne from Soleilmoon Recordings came to the rescue, in that he mentioned somehow whether I'd heard of an LP of children's songs. I hadn't in fact, but I told him about these recordings I'd been making over the years. Isabella and Jasper I think are now probably incredibly pissed off with me, but you know, that's tough. Full stop. Now at 17 and 15 their childhoods are over. The illusions shattered. There is no pretence. They can watch the news, Snapchat at speed, and lurk on the net who knows where. Innocence has gone, battered out of them by schools and the more serious and dull adults that surround them. They were the funniest and most amusing two smaller people imaginable, but now, they're Teenagers... Aaahhhhh. They've opinions, they're brighter than me, better looking, funnier, nicer clothes, better humour and taste, and they've more friends than me too. The job is done. 'm sadly responsible for the musical settings they happen to find themselves in, although, quite often all the music or at least some of it is made up from their noises too. We like a noise here and there and we love to dance on a Friday night. One of the beauties of this sort of music is that there are no rules. We could all do with this sort of freedom, in not just music, but film, cooking, and storytelling. A child's imagination is the finest open canvas ever..." Simon Fisher Turner, London, June 25, 2020

Details
File under: Aural Documentary
Cat. number: SOL 190LP
Year: 2020
Naivety and pure intrepid joy seep out of the speakers, while Simon Fisher Turner continues to push his experimentation further out in every direction with seemingly the same zeal as his young collaborators | Read more

We have a fixation on memories and their impermanence. It’s an impossibility that makes any attempt to encase the intangible in amber an ultimately vain, yet noble quest - not least when recording and transforming the first thirteen years of your children’s lives into sonic collage. Savage Songs… sees the unlikely confluence of the roles of both father and sound artist, as he becomes the incidental producer in the conceptual stage in encouraging his children, Jasper and Isabella, to express themselves via story and performance, whether they’re aware or not. The untreated nature of its acoustic elements enable a rather abstract, yet completely vivid, immersive experience - sweeping pans conjuring a young Jasper running past your view.  A kind of Holy Spirit to Brian Eno’s Father, Simon Fisher Turner’s journey from reluctant pop star to ambient outlier has seen him collaborate with Derek Jarman, join The The, and become an Ivor Novello winner for Best Soundtrack. Indeed, after his win, Turner was quoted as saying “Music is life, it’s breath”. A common sentiment, absolutely, but in fewer hands has it been more literal than across SFT’s life-hoarding discography. For as regarded as Turner is with respect to the avant-garde, his playfulness and ear for a hook can’t be underplayed.  ‘Idiot Song’, for example, is a wonderful collision of the high and low brow, as Jasper conducts an Urban Thesauraus recital of derogatory synonyms (“balloon, clodpole, nerd, dipstick, noodle, twit, pillock”). ‘Blahxblahxblahx’, ‘SQUIRREL (deep snapper mix)’ and ‘Salade Canard’ could be mistaken for one of Negativland’s more accessible, Devo-esque moments. These captive memories are populated with dissonant piano, percussive glitches, and glistening dreamscapes, with each subversion turning the album into a fascinating, unique lifecycle-jam. The centrepiece of Savage Songs… is the twelve-minute ‘The Mighty Dinosaurs’, which, on paper, and in less able hands, would otherwise not work. The Elysian Quartet perform a muted, reactive accompaniment to the children as they navigate new words and ancient worlds with a curious trepidation, making for a captivating, gradually untangling flux.  There’s an ongoing tension between Jasper & Isabella’s pure naivety and Simon’s intentional, knowing soundscapes that offers a kind of Kuleshov effect; The offseting of a field recording of a skipping rope verse, or daily shower, in the setting of minimalist, ethereal composition casts these snapshots of childhood into new light, allowing the album to transcend its constituent parts, creating a singular space of reflection and memory. This same profound understanding of psychoacoustic links transforms a simple field recording of child’s attempt to make music with a household object in ‘STRAW (performance)’ by masking its source and seemingly blending the struggle for breath with scathing traditional South American instrumentation as the piece gradually unfurls over the course of a minute.  Savage songs of brutality and food…. is a rare example of sonic art that works as a fascinating, prying document of the crucial stage of a human life, where children can become unwilling accessories to an accomplished piece of art. It’s also an incredibly charming, evocative record. Like Michael Apted’s Seven-Up series, it’s a glance into a deeply personal collection of memories that extrapolates into something universal. Naivety and pure intrepid joy seep out of the speakers, while Simon Fisher Turner continues to push his experimentation further out in every direction with seemingly the same zeal as his young collaborators. For the many of us who long to immortalise those years of sweet ignorance - not least in the midst of our current proto-pocalypse - this album may go some distance to assuage that yearning.