On Jones Beach
Three Lobed Recordings
Funny, the tricks the mind plays – or where you allow the mind to go – when listening to free and improvised music; the melodies that find themselves and then find you in and around the noise, that dissonant wash, and then you attach your own memories, your own self, to the sound. Every time I’ve listened to On Jones Beach by Glacial – the trio is Lee Ranaldo, Tony Buck and David Watson – I’m caught thinking it would perfectly soundtrack moments within a movie of Ian McEwan’s short novel, On Chesil Beach. Obviously it’s the On…Beach bit of each title which has me connecting them – at least that’s the initial reference. But there’s something in the way the 42-minute centrepiece and title-track unfolds, the lick and curl of jagged guitar noise and particularly the way that Watson’s treated bagpipes sit inside and across the noise, turning drone into musical mantra, making hollowed-out beauty from within the ugliness of the initial clatter.
Something too in the fact that when I’m listening to this Glacial record it is all that matters – it occupies the space, it occupies me. Fully. And I remember feeling that way across the two sessions when I read On Chesil. A stunning wee book – and one that, for the time while I held it, took me entirely to that place, made me almost actually unaware of anything else. The trip to Jones Beach is the same. And somehow I keep thinking of those two characters from Chesil whenever I hear Jones; slowly but surely they realise the downfall, they acknowledge what wasn’t ever right about them as a couple, they take on a sense of in-the-moment grieving for life as it’s happening, rather than after it has happened.
Glacial’s music has this feel to it – similar to the best moments from The Dead C at their most extravagant and howling.
There are three shorter tracks to follow the title piece on On Jones Beach and they are great too, a wind-down of sorts; coda. But it’s that magical 42 minutes where the world stops. And through the spinning of this fine music – as noise becomes music – I’m reminded of some of the best art I’ve ever experienced, McEwan’s (best) writing, Tony Buck’s playing with The Necks and across other ensembles, that Chris Knox track with the bagpipes cranking, The Dead C, Sonic Youth’s freer moments, the paintings of Tony de Laour and this strange new world that is captured On Jones Beach. Reminded too that you’ll only ever see what you see yourself, you can try and tell others about it and sometimes that just won’t work.