So begins melbn pixis – a lesson of the tyrannies of distance, a meditation on the absences that haunt us, the reminder simple things are easily forgotten. Tom Kazas writes crisply and keeps the ‘extended player’ (ep) format tight at four songs and just on seventeen minutes.
The cues here are as much David Sylvian and Brian Eno as the former The Moffs front man’s career – careening reverbs crash into waves of tremelo, the sparkling joy of release in the opening track this is how gives way to the muted solo of Ithaca Is. Perhaps Kazas avoids ‘looking back / for it does not exist’ – but the ghosts are still there, somewhat transformed on the long sea journey back to Ithaca – shuddering, broken symphonies and refracted rays from the sunlight pop that made the The Moffs hit ‘Another day in the sun’ so enduring.
This is the work of an Odysseus who has endured the trials of Scylla and Charybdis and found home is not what it was, or is already somewhere else. In a world beguiled by the spectacular, it’s hard to remember that constellations remind us how small we are, how lost we can be, and how sometimes letting things go is the only real way to find our way back.
small constellations from melbn pyxis by Tom kazas
On Saturday night The Silver Trail played at Die Tielnahmerie on The Wrangelstrasse in Kreuzberg. The Silver Trail is an open improvising duo – something I was taught by the kind folks at Free-for-all back in Sydney many years ago… We never quite know what we will play, approaching the instrument with fresh eyes, hands and ears each time.
Die Tielnahmerie is a new little co-operative that has sprung up in the past few months with a rich and eclectic music policy and diverse clientele to match. Joys of the evening included laughing while fellow guitar slinger Christopher Zitterbart struggled to find space for his Mesa Boogie Lonestar amp, AxeFX and pedal system; rushing from the other side of the room between sets to stop a drunk patron from ‘shredding’ on the guitars; and being distracted by a tuneless accompanist (in the next room, no less) playing along to everything on a blues harp in G.
But the beauty of the space is the surprise factor. An attentive audience, gorgeous friends, cheap drinks and a lovely set from an Irish folk band inspired Chris to invite Sasha, the pipe player, to join us. The video is sketchy, but I’m grateful to Ayumi Tanaka for capturing it after the battery on my camera ran out. It’s enough to give you the sense of something special unfolding in front of all of us. I’ve never met an Irish (or uilleann) pipe player, let alone shared the stage with one… Lovely.
I saw both of your feet on the ridge
In morning air, like pushed out of a dirty syringe
She said: “You know it’s really hard for me to breathe when you’re mine”
I said: “The thicker the air, the thinner the shine”
Axel Nystrom – The Ridge
I saw Axel play last Friday night – a refreshing voice in a sometimes bewildering techno city. I met him writing his debut album Bricks – heading to a friend’s Neukolln shop-window to sit in the lazy spring warmth and fill books with sparse, fading prose. Nice to hear the album and confirm what I’d suspected from live shows – he wasn’t drifting off to sleep in that sunlight…
A friend from Australia named another voice I’d been chasing – something here of Grant McLennan’s nonchalance and the wistfulness of The Go-Betweens. You can stream the album here:
There is a generous space in honest guitars, melodic pop and a deft turn of phrase. On tracks like From Outside and Bricks, Axel Nystrom has managed to find cracks in the wall of urban cool and gently prise open room for us to learn something new about hearts and heartbreak. And in that realm, it’s always good to have another go-between.
My friend Rick tells me anything can happen, and I often find he’s right… even though I’m prone to disagree. This Amazing sea came about when he ran into a beautiful girl I am mostly still in love with, on a boat on the harbour. He sent me periodic updates about the state of the storm, and many of the lyrics are ‘borrowed’ from his text messages.
I love that the sea reminds me, again and again, there are so many things beyond me. All I can do is hold on to the guard rail, breathe it in, sing my words into the storm, smile at the pretty girl on the deck, hope there are enough life jackets…
So anything can happen? Maybe… but it doesn’t scare me.