I’m on the platform of the Waterloo & City line, waiting for the next train to Bank. The crowds are pulsing around me but I’m alone, listening through bassy in-ear headphones to Lucius’ ‘Something About You’. Only a small part of me is aware that people might see me moving to the beat, mouthing the lyrics, moments of ecstasy occasionally playing across my features. That’s because I’m only half there; the other half of me is in the future, on a dancefloor at my birthday party, plotting out a path for love.
I’m alone in my flat on a Friday night. I’m chasing, trying to catch moments. I’m writing; I’m feeding my mind with music. Somehow I’ve found myself back with Deep in the Iris, like an old lover. It’s a muse I know won’t fail me.
“Take that opening chord. It’s a minor chord, but so sure of itself somehow. It’s strummed so boldly. Then the next ones come in and it’s all so hopeful – light, almost dreamy.” A mirror to our relationship so far. I’m just yearning for the day we get to the fifth chord, that gorgeous G/D cadence before mournful E minor eases us back into doubt.
Change and struggle are always ongoing processes. Like ‘Kill v Maim’ – like Art Angels as a whole – social change is gradual and tense and contradictory, and there is no security in certainty. But the tension and juxtaposition of ideas and emotions is part of the journey towards liberation, and, in fact, insofar as they help you understand what’s wrong with the world and how to improve it, those tensions are part of the emancipatory process. They force you to debate with yourself, to challenge others, and every so often grasp at what’s right.
My discomfort in allowing a song to be its own beast leaves me with a pertinent but uncomfortable question: do I love music for entirely selfish reasons? Am I only interested in music which articulates me? Is listening to music solely a self-building exercise? What is it in me that jostles to the front to sing along when I could be listening?
The gentle nudging of a chord into the divine is easy enough to become quotidian. It’s everywhere, and yet that doesn’t stop it from working. It manages the same sorcery as music more generally: being utterly ubiquitous and yet still wonderful, an endlessly reliable fallback, exhaustible in each example and yet reinvented and renewed with each new and beautiful tune, lyric or harmony.
I have been reading all day about love under capitalism, used to sell people shit they don’t need and seized to motivate accumulation of (sexual) capital, but I can’t submit to such cynicism about love, since I’ve seen it and felt it as a groundswell. It’s the feeling which binds us together in the struggle – the feeling which takes empty space and fills it with joy.