Monday, July 28, 2008

Ghost Drift Images: Cindytalk at the 12 Bar 30 June 2008



This video excerpt includes the following tracks
(laptop material in lower case, band performances in upper case):
I Walk Until I Fall (partial) | A USEFUL MELANCHOLY | If We Meet,
We Meet In Silence | PRINCE OF LIES | Shibuku (partial).




"There can't be many groups who I started listening to almost twenty-five years ago who are still going, let alone ones whose output still means much to me. In fact, of the handful of artists whose work I liked then and who are still active, none has released anything that has struck much of a chord with me for quite some time. The people who I tend to think of as my long-term favourites came slightly later, in the mid-to-late 1980s.

Only one band I was listening to at the age of sixteen still has the power to intrigue and excite me and that band is Cindytalk. The wayward, enigmatic Cindytalk, whose last "proper" album was released in 1994 (though a couple of subsequently planned releases have surfaced via the internet). The band who I'd only ever seen perform live once, in late 1995 at the Dublin Castle in Camden. The band who I'd ever wondered if I'd see on stage again.



It's funny how things go. They did a gig towards the end of last year in London, but I couldn't make it. A couple of months ago, I found myself enthusing about them to a friend of a friend. I ended up re-immersing myself in their albums, making a compilation CD of what I considered to be their most intriguing material. This influenced one of my written pieces at the time. Then, a few days later, a London gig was announced.


Chance, or fate? Who knows. Where Cindytalk are concerned, anything is possible. A band cursed and blessed: cursed with a considerable degree of bad luck surrounding the ownership and re-releasing of their back catalogue; blessed with an extraordinarily singular vision, an individuality and a purity that has seen them charting solitary territory throughout their existence. A band without peers, with all the joy and terror that this implies.



The problem I always have with Cindytalk when trying to convey their appeal to others is trying to encapsulate them in a way that does them justice. I used to describe their debut album Camouflage Heart as "the soundtrack to my dreams". That's probably a more honest reaction than rattling off a list of comparable band names, but it's also the only approach I've ever been able to take. They don't sound like anyone else.

So, here's my conundrum: how do I review this gig? For a start, it comes with a weight of expectation, the pent-up appetite of over a decade. All critical faculties desert me as I approach its convulsive beauty. The most realistic tack would be to say nothing, to urge you to click on the YouTube excerpt above and experience it for yourself. And yet, I'd feel rather selfish doing that. I need to try, at least, for the people who couldn't be there.



The set lasted around forty-five minutes. It was mixture of ambient laptop backing and four-piece band performance. Straightforward, in many ways: guitar, bass, drums, vocals. Oh yes, those vocals. Gordon Sharp still has one of the strongest, most beautiful voices I've ever heard. A voice that connects with something elemental yet floats amongst the stars, matched by a musical backdrop of considerable subtlety and power.



In fact, the music was something of a surprise. If there's any long-term trend to Cindytalk's output, it seems to be one of de-structuring and dissolution. However, the band performance was remarkably melodic and song-oriented, amongst the expansive, ambient electronica of the backing material. Also, it was great to hear the excepts from Ghost Dance (a favourite film of mine) featuring as part of the set.

Watching Gordon on stage, I'm thrown back to that first startling moment when I heard his voice on This Mortal Coil's unexpectedly compelling 16 Days Gathering Dust cover version. I'm sixteen again, alive to the overwhelming possibility of the world: the potential, the beauty, the desire, the rawness. And yet, here we are: I'm forty and I feel no different. The ongoing journey has only made these things more precious.





Cindytalk do this to me. No amount of hyperbole is going to frame it, express it or contain it. They are, utterly, without doubt, one of the defining bands of my lifetime. I wish they were more well-known, but at the same time I know that the very things that epitomise them work against that. If they start playing gigs more regularly I might stand a chance of becoming more objective and critical. Until then, I'm content to be overawed."

Video & Words by Stuart aka Hydragenic
Photography by Richie Young


Set list:

The titles in capitals are those played by the group, the rest are the tracks played as part of the laptop set:

How Soon Now... | Above The Paving Stones, The Stars | SPEECHLESS CAGE | Fly Away Over Here | Hanging In The Air | LOST BETWEEN US | Maglev | WIDENING THE FOCUS | From The Mountain | I Walk Until I Fall | A USEFUL MELANCHOLY | If We Meet We Meet In Silence | PRINCE OF LIES | Shibuku | OUTSIDE OUT | Signalling Through The Flames | A Distant Kite | The Eighth Sea | MY DRIFT IS A GHOST |...until we disappear...


More images from the gig can be found at
Poison Creeper's Concert Attack page

16 comments:

cinder said...

big thanks to spaewaif,richie and stuart for this... i should point out that both "ghosts" and the hydragenic website missed out the very last track from our 12 bar live set list.the track after "my drift is a ghost" - and the last of the night - was laptop track "...until we disappear" which is the second part of the opening piece "how soon now..", in typical cindytalk fashion,we end as we begin.in this case a track written by myself and matt kinnison taken from the album "hold everything dear".

cinder said...

a further note on this entry...it becomes obvious that we don't make it easy for people to follow what we're up to... can't apologise for that.there were 5 band members performing at this gig.the stage was so tiny
that shrill,our computer/electronics operator had to
set up on the balcony in front of us,so was not seen
by the audience and also was not in any of the photographs.as well as carrying out my instructions for the laptop set that i had sequenced she was adding her own crucial "live" elements to the performance.

spaewaif said...

Set list corrected!

cinder said...

thank ye kindly dearest spaewaif...

arhinosymouse said...

monkeying around the ratfers while there's a gig going on... tsk tsk.

shrill said...

i was also moving the bricks around paul's elbows so he'd have space to hit the drums, making dan's shirt sparkle, moving gary's pedals around in circles (he keeps bending down to put them back in place), and operating cinder's hand-held wind machine... or was it david ros who was doing all that ???

huffyknickers said...

that was david.you were operating the computer and it's accoutrements.god,you just can't get the staff these days.

spaewaif said...

Shrill,you've just killed me with your comment!
I have SEEN that hand-held wind machine in action!!!
In fact,I almost posted a photo I wanted to title "Shrill's Ghost" since it definitely proved you were up there...
Calling Shrill!

Burlington Bertie said...

What a fantastic post. The words strike a chord with me, 47, 15, no difference, when this group (in any incarnation) are live you are just embraced and become part of it. Oh my words can't do any of this justice so I'll cut to the chase, what would I need to do to get the full audio or full video of this performance? There I said it.

cndr said...

hi andy,i can do you a copy of the live audio but i don't have the full video.only seen the clip posted here.apparently the sound was too distorted on the rest.the section here was of course much quieter than all the other bits.we could suggest to stuart that we could match our audio to his video,even though our
audio is a bit distorted too.email me your address
please.in fact get in touch eh.

Hare Otoko said...

thanks for sharing, the pics are great and I have to say Cinder is looking quite, ahum, handsome.

Anonymous said...

i think you'll find the word is うつくしい

Cinder said...

Not quite sure what happened to this thread,it got derailed somehow.I think i know why but i'll keep schtum.Anyhow,it was certainly special to me that Richie's photos were used for this post you'll always be part of the family Richie,cheers,mate.Cx.

nelson staxx said...

Spaewaif,
a huuge thanks to you for all your excellent work on this wonderful page. The recent flurry of activity has been especially good. The cindytalk story has been a long and often obscure one, many thanks for documenting the many twists and turns, especially the amazing experience of cindytalk live. It has been so well done, I'm finding out things that I didn't know myself.
Please carry on and on...

Paul m

shrill said...

yes, this page is a real treasure. thanks spaewaif!

cinder said...

aye and a sterling job you do as well.many many thanks from all your cindytalk friends.it's not by accident that your name appears on the myspace band-list.