Apathy is the third album from Gail Something-Else and her motley crew of land pirates; the usual deal applies, you can buy the CD or download the tracks for pay-what-you-want. New collaborators on this one include Dai Blow and Buzz Onion of One Eyed God, Jay from Inner Terrestrials/Firepit Collective and Jonny ‘Wrongun’ Daniels from Pure Evil.
Apathy: a state of indifference, an inability to be arsed. We inhabit the disintegrating corpse of a dead civilisation, and sure enough a major preoccupation of our time is the myth of the undead, vampires and zombies. The metaphor is not lost on the conscious minority. Adult men and women while away their hours peering into a dystopian fantasy rather than looking out the window at the dystopian reality. Within the sleeve, richly decorated with Gail’s own graphics, the word is preceded by ‘fuck’ in brackets.
The album was launched with a self-organised party in a field at Gail’s beloved Forest of Dean, Gail’s Broken Ukulele was patched with a bit of wardrobe and an anti-fascist sticker. The cross-dressing Cajon player Techno Hippy was taken ill and a couple of the crew instantly stepped in on percussion. On the Sunday it began to rain and most of the punters drifted away, the crew, musicians and a few stragglers were instructed to ‘drink the bar’. The talented and totally outsane Dai gave a magnificent demonstration of how smashed a human being can be and still put a saxophone to good use – or a clarinet, melodica, whistle, and just about anything else you can blow into. Jay can virtually play guitar in his sleep, he can cook too. Duelling clarinets, gypsy jazz and songs of revolution drifted with the smoke across the wet fields, we did some fireworks that had literally fallen off the back of a lorry. You should get yourself along to one of these gatherings if you can. This music is born in improvisation around the campfire, lending it a timeless quality that defies categorisation as ancient or modern.
“Review the bloody record Mal”, ah, right; the Something-Else mothership comes in ‘To Land’ on an acoustic reggae number with Doozer Mc Dooze of Deferred success, jolly and positive, to blow away the cobwebs and drag you off your computer.
Two tracks from the first album recorded with the Reverend Phil Dread appear here in acoustic form. ‘As the dragon runs’ is a chillingly beautiful re-working of ‘Heroin’ from the electronic set, with instrumentation by Jay Terrestrial. The pipes conjure images of faraway places as the opiate dreams weave through the gritty kitchen-sink reality of sharing a life with one of the great apathisers. In the mid 1980s when the country stood on the brink of revolution it was suddenly flooded with cheap smack. Coincidence? Who knows, we won’t find out under the thirty-year rule; collateral damage included some of the children of the middle class and about a dozen of my old friends. There follows an acoustic version of ‘Empathy’ featuring superb guitar work from Tony Hopkins accompanying snapshots of the bleakness some people inhabit.
‘Conspiraloon’ recorded ‘live and drunk’ but lucid nevertheless, is the catchiest tune on the album, with Dai’s meandering melodica doubtless played stone cold sober. This is for the Guy Fawkes masked, tinfoil hat wearers who believe everything they see on the Internet, chasing phantoms while our rulers piss up our backs. Never mind the Molochs, here’s Howard, the talking porpoise from Atlantis. The new technology has its uses but remember you’re never more than five clicks away from David Icke.
‘The cry of the thwarted bigot’ with Buzz Onion is one for all those apoplectic Daily Mail readers left with nothing to show for their abject class collaboration but a vast chip on their shoulder. Blaming the boss would make them complicit so it must be someone else’s fault: Johnny Foreigner, the unions, gays, Muslims, the unemployed, single mothers, reds, long-haired layabouts and students, etc. UKIP presents a peculiarly English, snide, mealy-mouthed version of the rabid xenophobia that’s sweeping mainland Europe in response to the collapse of neoliberalism. Sort of de-caffeinated fascism, watch your blood pressure, dear.
‘Ignition’ is a political love song, but no compromise, played by Doozer. Waves of sound build up, crash down and wash away again, worth putting on the headphones for.
‘Passive-aggressive’ could be the ghost of an old fairground tune. A true story about one of those dreary people who place themselves at the centre of the universe and somehow manage to bring all activity to a grinding halt. Emotional blackmailers, they come in all sizes and genders.
‘What do we tell our children (about freedom)?’ Tony, Dai and Gail create a wistful sound from a bygone age and lament the increasingly restrictive and prescriptive direction of modernity.
‘Domestic Terrorist’ is one of the silly labels applied to the conscious minority who have escaped the bourgeois hegemony and decline to be pacified with toys and games; the sledgehammer has every reason to fear the nut. Gail plays ukulele and Dai clarinet.
“That the mass bleeds, that it is being robbed and exploited, I know as well as our vote-baiters. But I insist that not the handful of parasites, but the mass itself is responsible for this horrible state of affairs. It clings to its masters, loves the whip, and is the first to cry “Crucify!” the moment a protesting voice is raised against the sacredness of capitalistic authority or any other decayed institution. … Yes, authority, coercion, and dependence rest on the mass, but never freedom or the free unfoldment of the individual, never the birth of a free society.”
– Emma Goldman: ‘Minorities versus Majorities’ 1917.
‘Open eyes’, another cheerful Doozer reggae song celebrates being different, conscious and in the minority.
The disc concludes with an electro-punk version of ‘Cameron I would call you a cunt’, our campfire sing-along is given a harder edge by the Rev. P’s rhythmic bleeps and squelches. The rest of the cabinet also get a mention and are all found similarly wanting in the depth and charm department.
If you can shoot zombies you can shoot fascists, can’t you?