I like the way that music amplifies (no pun intended) and provides a window onto society, allowing future generations the opportunity to gauge the mood of times gone by. Should we make it to 30 years from now, no doubt future generations of android-children will look back on this period and think,
“Wow, that was a shite year.”
Aye, indeed all the mainly terrible times throughout history have given rise to a movement in musical expression that has gone beyond the work of any history textbook in terms of popular narrative. Whether you look at Country Joe and the Fish’s ‘Fish Cheer’ as a blunt, unambiguous response to the futility of slaughtered youth in Vietnam, or The Clash’s ‘White Man in Hammersmith Palais’ as a riposte to government hypocrisy in the face of the endemic racism that still haunts us today, there is no substitute for a song being able to capture a moment in time.
Unless you are lucky enough to live on the Isle of Man, it may have come to your knowledge that live music is currently completely absent from our lives. In fact, the mere practicality that our news media is forced to churn out jealousy-laden, reports on the Manx’s return to ‘normality’ is testament to quite how shite the situation is. Live music, grass-roots music in particular, is probably the best indicator of this apocalyptic vision of the current situation re: live music.
So what to do about the whole deal. Well, if you are Rita Ora, you can use your privilege to simply pretend that everything is OK. Apparently, this option only costs £5,000. However, if you’re not Rita Ora, then you might as well do what musicians used to do and narrate these times of adversity by writing a song about it. This is exactly what Gefahrgeist did; ‘Nukular’
Innovative attitudes to the lack of live music were 10-a-penny 12 months ago, though after a gruelling year this volume has been steadily falling. Live stream shows, merchandise drives, Fans Only nude shows, and that bubble idea that The Flaming Lips did, have all had their moment, the one thing in common being that they focus on the individual performer. Gefahrgeist’s singer and lyricist, Fiona Liddell, has gone further than the individual, using the time spent not gigging to promote the Line Check podcast (with fellow musician Jack Hinks), as well as the short and to-the-point #ShoutoutSaturdays. Both look to help the independent music community and promote groups of new Scottish artists.
If you are a new Scottish artist, then don’t take my word for it. Have a look.
Somehow, outwith this Herculean effort, Gefahrgeist having been making music too.
I walked into a nuclear bomb this Tuesday past,
I glided through the radiation like I was glass,Gefahrgeist – Nukular
There is definite sense of desolation in the song; it’s haunting and it’s lyrically forthright. Legend has it that the idea derives from a certain, now thankfully jobless, US head of state’s penchant for utter destruction. I can believe that, but why stop there? It’s a song about the abuse of power and how much devastation can come from the actions of the powerful and selfish.
Songs can be read into at one’s choosing, thematically I mean. For example, The Who’s legendary answer to the BBC over the meaning behind ‘I Can See for Miles’ being:
"Just about a guy with incredible eyesight"
is one of the more amusing takes of both thematic disposition and bald-faced lying. Fair play to them though. Nukular, for me, hints at live music, and creative expression in general. Early promises to protect the arts industry in this country largely faded to dust.
Your body lingers on, I’m prone to want what’s turned to ash.Gefahrgeist – Nukular
Now we as musicians are picking up the pieces, so to speak. It is what music has always had the ability to do, and now, in the face of adversity, we will do it again. It doesn’t seem all that likely that we’re going to get a whole lot of help to do it, so it will fall on musicians to help one another to bring about a return to the art that we love.
I was gonna write some clichéd bollocks about ‘rising from the ashes’ or phoenixes, or whatever, but then I realised that it would indeed be terribly shite, so I won’t subject you to that. Instead, I leave you with a song that haunts and hopes at the same time. Nukular, by Gefargheist.
Support Gefahrgeist directly by getting their music on Bandcamp here.
If you want me to write irreverently about the music you make, then get in touch here.