Saturday, 7 September 2013

Nurturing my hopeful monsters

The latest donation to my Saving the Only Life I Can comes courtesy of Matt Wicking, who is the lead singer from the Australian band The General Assembly. I fell heavily heart-first into their music when I saw Matt performing at my first Uncivilisation Festival in 2011. I hadn't yet mustered the courage to contact Matt and ask for his permission to include General Assembly tracks in my creative project but happily he fortuitously and unexpectedly materialised in front of me at this years Uncivilisation (which I was at last month). I excitedly bounded up to Matt and blathered away at him about wanting to use his music for my Saving the Only Life I Can project. I waxed lyrical about how much one of the tracks from The General Assembly's Dark Mountain Music EP had meant to me at the depths of my depression. He generously said an unreserved yes pretty much straight away and then he asked me which track I was talking about ... my mind went blanker than a very blank thing and I couldn't even recall a single lyric ... it was totally mortifying. We hastily agreed that it was probably the track 'Wildwood' I was talking about and left it that. For the next few days of the festival I wracked my brains trying to remember *any* of the lyrics that had purportedly meant so much to me during my darkness last year.

Of course the moment I was back in York and safely out of blathering range of Matt I remembered ... it was the whole gosh-darned EP that had been a life raft for me. Wildwood was indeed thickly rich with lyrics that resonated with me:
"Got me searching for the answers on the forest floor" 
"And now I don't know where I'm going and I don't know where I've been so it's hard to find a place where I fit in" 
"I’m searching for a feeling that might not even exist. It’s like looking for a fog in the middle of a mist. I’ve got a compass in my pocket and a watch on my wrist but I’m lost." 
"And nothing's keeping me from losing all the things I've learnt so I'm lost." 
"Now I don’t want to search no more, for an answer I don’t know no more than I did when I started, don’t want it keeping me awake no more"
You can listen to the track 'Wildwood' here [it's featured on Dark Mountain's 'From the Mourning of the World' LP]:

But every other track on that General Assembly EP had lines in them that seemed to be speaking directly to me too:
"Too nervous to talk, too scared to be silent" 
"We're howling in the mountains, burning bones, firing up flares, calling you home." 
"The story starts at the end of everything."  
"The thought of thinking it just makes you ill. Your mouth is moving but your mind is still." 
"You aim at nothing and give it all you've got" 
"It's what your body won't forget and your mind can't understand. The only way out is through. The only way in is under. If you try to measure it you're bound to lose. If you run from it you won't discover [...]" 
"So hold on, just hold on, hold on, hold on. Yeah hold on, just hold on, hold on."
You can listen to the whole of The General Assembly's 'Dark Mountain Music' EP:

In fact it was the last track on that EP, Hopeful Monsters, that helped to keep me afloat. I remember singing the 'hold on' lines at full voice with hot tears flowing down my cheeks on more than one occasion. It still brings a lump to my throat when I listen to it now.

Listening to the EP (for the hundredth-plus time) again it strikes me that there's something more than the lyrics alone resonating with my bones - There's a beautifully mournful quality to the music and at times Matt's voice sounds like a wounded animal which has taken human form - His voice spoke to the wounded animal in me that wanted to just curl up and howl silently into the forest floor.

Huge thanks to Matt for giving me permission to include these tracks even though I couldn't recall a single lyric or song title when I barrelled up to him at the Uncivilisation festival last month :)

Incidentally you should tarry not, go sally forth and dive deep into Matt's solo project, Huckleberry Mockingbird, which is the name that he sings, blogs and poets under. If you find yourself moved by murmurations, silence, funeral parlours, childhood or imperfection then you will find yourself very much at home on his blog.

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