I’m trying to sleep on the bus, it’s still early and I should be able to get some shut eye but tell that to the man beside me who is tossing and turning like he has a sand crab in his knickers.
I’m on my way to Galway to give a talk to pupils in the Huston school of Digital Media in NUIG. I attended the school, nearly ten years ago, what has become of time? I’m going to show some clips of my film work and talk to them about whatever it is they want to talk about.
I’m nervous and could do with some rest but the fidgeter to my left (as annoying as he is) is not the only reason I can’t sleep.
I’m troubled by that most troubling of things, world news. Even the wonderful new Lambchop album Flotus (which we reviewed here last week) playing in my ears cannot take my mind off our shared worries: the rise of the fluffy haired one.
Donald Trump is the next president of the United States, and the real worry is all that racist, misogynistic, homophobic and bigoted hate that was spewed both by the candidate himself and many of his supporters will now become the norm and we are looking at the rise of a new fascism, the same as the old version but with a more rubbish hairdo/ wig.
I was going to try and address these worries here but less than a week after the election I just can’t face it.
I like most other people on the planet have had it up to here with Trump and his presidency has not even started. The world turned a shade darker last week and I don’t want to try and shine a light on it. Today I need to find another way of looking at the world.
A good thing about public transport is that it offers the chance to reflect and ponder; as there are two hopes of me getting some sleep on this bus; no and bob (thanks mam), I can at least try and think about something good, something vital for if the election of Trump can be described as a source of shame and with art being something which should engender pride let's today focus on the latter instead. As the title of my first film had it: Art Will Save the World and even if it won’t it’s a good distraction from and remedy to that which seeks to destroy it.
If another way of looking at the world is what you are after than the Welsh singer songwriter Cate Le Bon cannot come recommended enough. I was lucky enough to attend her gig in the Workman’s Club, Dublin on my birthday a few weeks ago and everytime I see her live or hear a new record by her, she has taken another step forward with her craft.
Her latest record Crab Day is my focus this week. Le Bon who was born in Penboyr, Carmarthenshire in Wales first gained public attention when she provided vocals for the Neon Neon single I Lust You in 2008. Since then she has released a number of critically acclaimed albums and collaborated with a wide range of musicians included the Manic Street Preachers and the Chemical Brothers.
Blessed with a beautiful haunting voice her music often takes the form of angular post punk and she has a gift for writing brutally honest songs that combine a deep uneasiness to do with the world around her with knife edge riffs.
Her lyrics are often assembled in a patchwork style after the music is completed, in an almost Dadaist/ Burroughs cut up formation which represents an attempt to make some sense of that which does not make sense, this thing we call life.
One engaging aspect of Le Bon’s work is that she embraces this inherent absurdity of life and responds with more of the same, nonsense is often the best answer to nonsense and the cornerstones and constructs of life are just that, man-made.
In Le Bon’s - the strangeness of the words - and the dissonance of the music complement each other wonderfully creating a unique soundscape that at once sounds familiar yet utterly unique.
As noted there is an unsettling surrealism at play here which runs throughout the record through both the music and the words, lyrics like: “I’m going to cry into your mouth” is disarming in its oddness but here also seems completely the norm. The music is off kilter with verses falling into choruses and vice versa, squealing guitars, clatter with saxophones and marimba stylings.
Le Bon has created her own world and in it she sets her own rules but this is always a melodic if abstract record.
Here Le Bon manages to pull off that most difficult of tasks, she has taken something old and turned it into something new.
I’m sure there are many people who would like to do the same with a certain flame haired wazzock.
The talk in Galway goes well and I’m thankful I don’t seem to have put any of them off the idea of making films. Afterwards we all go for a pint of Guinness before my bus home and I try to answer any questions they have as honestly as possible.
No one mentions Trump once and it’s a pleasant way to end the day. On the bus back to Dublin two huge loud American’s are sitting in the seats opposite, baseball capped and wearing the bluest jeans in the world with sparkling white trainers. I wonder if they voted for Trump and what they think about it all, but then I imagine they might love him and think he will indeed make America great again, so I pop in my earphones and try vainly to sleep, who knows, maybe I will wake up and all this has just been nothing but a very bad dream.