Maple Glider – To Enjoy is the Only Thing
Out now on Partisan Records
Album review by Rob Harrison
Maple Glider who finds herself in the fortunate position of being the latest signing to Partisan Records, has just produced a groovy new platter entitled “To Enjoy is the Only Thing”. The record could be seen as following on from “Try Harder” by Ariel East, also signed to Partisan Records.
Once again we are treated to another helping of what is becoming known as Desert Folk. This new, fast growing genre could be described as indie country music. Musically, it could be seen to be Patsy Cline meets the Velvet Underground.
But to actually describe what the new record sounds like, I would say, it reminds me slightly of avant-garde composer Eric Satie. In terms of its minimalist structure it would be interesting to actually find out what Maple Glider’s influences might be.
The tracks veer towards minimal and really minimal, an example being “Baby Tiger” which consists of strummed guitar and hazy vocals. In the hands of a less interesting artist this would be musical bromide. But Maple Glider informs the song with an interesting sense of intensity throughout.
And that’s what makes her brilliant. Within this context, she creates a world for herself, and perhaps connects in some way with the kindred spirits of other female artists like Frida Kahlo and Maya Deren.
These two artists from the past come to mind, when watching her strange surrealist films. Made in collaboration with video artist Bridgette Winten they utilize an almost dreamlike quality within the editing and camera work. And through this, catch the mood perfectly of the strange quality of the songs.
A brief history of post-punk
Post-punk appears to be back in fashion with bands like Idles and Dry cleaning leading the pack. On the whole the genre seems to opt for the obligatory female singer while in the background the guys struggle with their snazzy equipment. These are usually shiny fender Jaguar guitars, the obligatory post-punk guitar.
Post-punk, you can say, roughly existed between 1978 and 1982. For many bands it was a reaction to punk rock. Which had quickly metamorphosed into pub rock. Ironically from where it had originally sprung from.
The Sex Pistols splitting up in 1978 could be seen to be the start of post-punk proper. In retrospect this could be seen as a pivotal moment. When the many bands caught up in the new scene had decided to throw off the shackles that punk had already imposed upon itself. The reckoning was that punk was basically, a postmodernist version of rock and roll. And one that was still deeply entrenched in the rituals of music of the past.
And so if that was the case post-punk would be modernist. Taking its battle cry from the revolutionary avant-garde to make it new, they would create music from Electronica, discordant guitar riffs. and cut up lyrics. These would come courtesy of the beat poets and the Dada movement.
And so punk, like jazz before it, had moved on to become art. The jazz players of the BeBop movement in the late Forties declared that they were no longer just bar entertainment, but were now artists in their own right.
The new consciousness, as we shall call it, went hand in hand with the dawning of the black civil rights movement after the second world war. Similarities within this movement and the white working class and lower middle class kids, fired up by the punk explosion are interesting, in terms of finding alternatives through political debate. And seeing music as a social revolution, as well as an artistic one.
It is to be noted that the original thrust of the Black Power movement was through a Marxist perspective. This was to be tempered during the forties and fifties, due to the increased pressure to conform to political norms (capitalism) and the rise of communist witch hunts. And so as a consequence of this many of the original ideas became diluted.
It would be the late Sixties when black artists would be free to express themselves politically again with the rise of the Black Power movement.
But as we speak this is not history, far from it. The debates in the Black Lives Matter movement place an emphasis on Marxist dialectics, questioning the structure of capitalism, and seeing that it is inherently racist. In terms of feeding off the exploitation of class war and race war using discriminatory policies in order to maintain its power base.
So, the post-punk kids wanted music that reflected the times they lived in. With the growing rise of the right wing they sought to find alternatives to the now increasing right wing agenda sought by politicians on both left and right of the political mainstream.
Sounds a bit like now doesn’t it. This is where we come in, we appear to be in a similar situation like the seventies. The post-punk scene at the moment seems to reflect this situation. In terms of it being a platform for political debate through the medium of an avant-garde musical statement.
So where do we go with this, in terms of choosing bands. Let’s start off with what appears to be the most popular groups at the moment. These are as mentioned, Dry Cleaning and Idles. Dry Cleaning are from London and Idles from Bristol whose album I recently reviewed, add to this are Big Joanie who are based in London as well.
But moving away slightly from the London-centric, we have from Dublin, TV People, the single String I reviewed a while back, another band worth checking out are Just Mustard recently signed to Partisan Records, also from Ireland. From Scotland we have Swim School, a new post-punk/shoegaze band slightly under the radar but interesting nevertheless.
The new (PP) revival shows no signs of letting up. Many bands playing under the post-punk moniker, began to become active around 2000. After a slight hiatus (the groups having split up) we are now seeing a new batch of bands, who appear to be more in tune with the original spirit of post-punk (experimental music, political lyrics).
Perhaps, as I mentioned before, this is a reflection on the times we live in. And the dysfunctional political situations which present itself to us on a daily basis.
So, the question at the present moment is post-punk the official music for uncertain times? Historically speaking it’s an interesting idea at least, as it is far removed from the kind of music which society deems we should listen to in most cases. We now see young bands literally kicking against the pricks.
Postmodern politics becomes the political sleight of hand. A consequence of this, is that it has now replaced the need for any kind of real policies. This has inevitably created a situation, where we can be seen as wanting a change of direction.
Not just musically, but politically as well. And so as a society, would we possibly like to move in the direction of perhaps a modernist revival.
We as a society have become sick of our current leaders playing their games with our lives and futures. In history societies are judged not just by political events but by their cultural achievements as well.