Monday, May 9, 2011

road therapy - bobb trimble / leonard cohen

Bobb Trimble
Iron Curtain Innocence

Leonard Cohen
Songs Of Love And Hate
1971 / Columbia

After two long festivals very far from home this past month and a couple of brain-destroyingly noisy shows (Mayhem and a delightful package of Hate Eternal / Obscura / Beneath The Massacre / Defiled), I'm not in the mood to blast some Nile or Gnaw in the car, okay? Well, that's not entirely true, because they've both been spinning there in the last few days, but for reasons of preservation of the little sanity I have left, it's been the less loud stuff that has dominated my vehicular comings and goings. Less loud, but not wimpy either, and these two old gems are in fact severely heavy-going shit.

Although the name was familiar to me after having read random things about his life and that hideous Jex Thoth cover of one of his songs, I decided to plunge into the widely unknown world of Bobb Trimble after my pal Don wrote about him in his usual hilarious manner. Turns out he was perfectly right - 'Iron Curtain Innocence', the first and most fascinating of Bobb's two early 80s impossibly rare albums, is a hell of a trippy rollercoaster of feelings and moods. First you'll fall in love with the gorgeously dreamy female voice on those first two songs, then you'll feel all weirded out (or not, I'm not judging here) when you realize that's Bobb and not some female guest, then you'll think you'll have the wrong download because the album gets totally different after the two initial songs (which, by the way, are perfectly placed for driving - when you're all settled in the car and well on your way to wherever you're going to go, lullabied by the two creepy yet soothing starting pieces, the album can start properly with 'When The Raven Calls'), and then you'll notice all the crazy but also profound things happening in the lyrics and all the little "wait, what?" moments in the music itself. Don puts it perfectly in his entry, describing the effect: "Next thing you know you are singing the songs in your head while you are at work and then BAM it is one of your favorite records. That crazy bastard now controls your brain," he says, and that's exactly what happens. So see you in a week when you'll be humming cute apocalyptic/incomprehensible stuff like "the streets are all empty and I'm burning alive - I'll take mine well done." I wonder how I haven't driven off the Vasco da Gama bridge yet.

Well, maybe because I have a gritty slice of reality like 'Songs Of Love And Hate' to pull me back down to the planet. That's right, kids, there was an album called that before Godflesh did it. Well, kids probably don't know Godflesh either, so screw that. Go back to your new Arch Enemy records, or whatever shit it is you enjoy these days. I'm ranting, but it's Leonard's fault. This record stirs stuff in me at a very basic level. 'Songs Of Love And Hate', as I've half-drunkenly debated before, is a fucking doom album, only without any metal in it. The dread-ridden minimalism of 'Avalanche', the endless sorrow of 'Famous Blue Raincoat', the down-in-the-bottom, hopeless drunken rambling of 'Diamonds In The Mine' or 'Sing Another Song, Boys' and the unexpected tenderness of 'Love Calls You By Your Name', everything is raw, true and deeply human about this album. And with enough of a glimmer of hope to keep me off the edge of long bridges.


  1. Great post!

    I should also point out that Don (WFH) wrote about him, not me.

  2. Indeed it was. Fixed, with apologies!
    As I've told Don already, it's all your fault - both of you write brilliantly, so I mix you up. So there.