18 Dec

Sean O’Hagan about the release of “Beet Maize and Corn”


I sat down a year and half ago and asked myself… how do you make a different record? How do you make an original record ? Well it’s nearly impossible to make a totally original record and the pursuit of this ideal has driven many gifted players away from their intuition and instinct and into a ditch from which they struggle to recover.

You have to like the music you make. Even so I was determined to make a change. And the only way I thought plausible at the time was not to reference anything from the 60’s or 70’s. Which if you examine it, is what everyone does the whole time. I realised I was listening to French and British impressionists because they had influenced the great early 20th century American pop writers (Gershwin and Cole Porter). The French stuff was woody and odd (Ravel, Debussy). But there was something else bobbing around on the horizon which I could not ignore. That was American dreamy pop ballad writing from the 50’s. Frankie Avalon, Dion and the Belmonts, The Platters, The Flamingos, Bobby Darin. And that’s where the record landed. France 1910 and Small town America 1959… the twilight between Elvis and The Beatles. There may even be some Rogers and Hammerstein in there or a bit of Kurt Weill. I’m sure these elements have not been examined in such close proximity before. Happy campers.

None of the music on this record is totally original but the context is fresh to my way of thinking. And there is no room for funny electronics or strange new sounds.

Anyway there you have. A different bag of potatoes from the last lot but they’re still potatoes. And let’s not get too serious about it all. I still love a tune and a chord change like never before. I still love a tune that makes you smile.

~ Sean O’Hagan