tisdag 17 oktober 2023

Musikminne från Aisle 9

Foto: Press

Aisle 9 eller Tim Benson som han egentligen heter är både artist och producent. Han har under en lång tid, närmare 20 år, varit gitarrist i bandet Beats Working. Hans hjärta bär på minst lika mycket kärlek för elektronisk musik dock, en musik han själv fann intresset för under slutet av 90-talet i ravescenen och  trancescenen. Under namnet Aisle 9 märks just den där kärleken. Här finns kärleken till energin, till rytmen och till dansen. Här finns spår av allt från Kraftwerk till Jean-Michel Jarre och jag tycker att det är mycket bra. Senaste singeln Hot copper love bär på 80-talets smaker men är överlag en modern rätt som gjord för att återkomma till gång på gång utan att bli riktigt mätt. Jag älskar hur saxofonen bildar en fin kontrast till det elektroniska. Idag gästar Aisle 9 bloggen för flera musikminnen!

Anyone who knows me well will probably tell you, I’m not a great chronologist. So as soon as I was approached to write this article, I felt a debilitating inability to remember exactly what the fuck has happened in my life. But the more I attempted to pick through the myriad of bands, albums, singles, gigs, recording sessions, and hazy summer festivals that still whirl around my head, the more I realised this: music has been my life, it has consumed the vast majority of my waking hours and it is in fact the way I really diarize, categorise and denote my own experience. 

I didn’t grow up as some child prodigy; live amongst gifted siblings, artists and performers. I wasn’t born in a tour bus out on the open road, and my childhood in Edgware in 1969, wasn’t spent in some bohemian enclave with cool pot smoking hippies for parents. No, my family were passionate church goers and not the exciting kind. Singing hymns, listening to organ recitals, my Dad playing the piano on a Sunday morning or my sister murdering Mozart on her French horn, that was the soundtrack to my childhood . Pop, jazz, rock, country or blues it didn’t happen. 

Watching The Monkees and endless Elvis films on TV probably started to waken something in me, but it wouldn’t be until the 80s, that I would start listening to the radio, and begin to discover that the Devil had been keeping all the best music. Though if I have to try to pinpoint the singularity, punk would be it. I remember distinctly saving up every penny I could, going into HMV and buying my first vinyl album. Stiff Little Fingers Nobody’s Heroes

Nobody’s Heroes has a very distinctive cover. The front actually is just a giant barcode. The back, a rejection letter from Chrysalis records, the major label the album was being released on, after the band switched from indie label Rough Trade. The whole album is full of hard hitting raw pop songs, full of young anger, frustration and passion. Each song brilliantly articulates the ambitions of young men in search of expression and identity. I think it changed me, I remember feeling empowered, like this was something I wanted to do. Like their struggles were my own. Their fight to be heard and get signed, to shout about the system’s inherent hypocrisy, to make such a visceral noise that felt so relevant. 

Obviously the story didn’t end there as I went on to pick up first the guitar, then the drums, bass and keys myself. I began frantically writing and attempting to sing my own songs, finally forming a band, which rehearsed every Saturday in our living before eventually putting on our first gigs. 

But there’s another music memory I want to share with you, one that comes from that same year; 1980. It was when I bought my first synth based single. I didn’t really know at the time how important OMD’s - Enola Gay would become for me, and I wasn’t even really sure back then why I loved the record so much. I was all about guitars at the time, a big Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple fan, rapidly getting more and more into my heavy and progressive rock phase. I hated all these wimpy modern romantics with the heavy make up and eyeliner that my schoolmates so adored. 

Enola Gay told the story of the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. It had been banned by the BBC, something that has almost always guaranteed a record huge chart success! I just remember it had such a lush sound, and I loved the picked bass and little drum machine intro. The melody on that record was so simple yet so powerful, forming the main chorus by replacing the vocals. I had no idea about synthesis, or songwriting structure, but I could hear the richness of the sound and feel the emotion it evoked. 

There was something about these lyrics that really hit me too. We were living in the real Cold War era, and I often recall going to sleep at night, fearing what might happen if a nuclear attack was ever launched. 

‘It's 8:15, and that's the time that it's always been 
We got your message on the radio, conditions normal and you're coming home’ 

Later on I would discover one of OMD’s own heroes, and a seminal influence on my music; Kraftwerk’s The Man Machine album. These now legendary godfather’s of electronic music have meant so much to so many musicians. I can’t understate how huge an influence they have been on me, and it was their hypnotic electronic minimalism that would finally seduce me away from the guitar, and into trance and house music. I remember as an art student painting for hours in my studio listening to that album. Especially Neon lights. 

As the warehouse and free festival scene of the 90s took hold, I was busy arming myself up with an Atari ST, a dodgy version of Cubase, and any hardware synths I could find. This was to lead me into countless new creative spaces and places. I would discover a bewildering array of new friends, new ideas and new music. In my memory the air is permanently heavy with the scent of patchouli oil and incense, and my ears are constantly ringing with sounds of Leftfield, William Orbit, The Grid, and Orbital. There’s too many memories from that time to recount here, some of which are almost transcendent and some of which are still too painful. Not everyone I knew from back then made it through, but through it all there was music. 

So now for a final musical memory, one from the mid 90s. I was finally traveling into NYC, somewhere that loomed big in my dreams. We were crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and I was listening on my Walkman to a A remark you made by Weather Report. Wayne Shorter’s silky sax and Jaco’s gorgeous mournful bass in my ears. That was a moment of such synergy. I just remember crying and feeling completely lost in the music. The world melting as Zawinul’s perfect synth solo comes in around 5 minutes in.

/ Aisle 9

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