Sunday, 12 September 2010
One, two, three, eleven.
You may or may not be familiar with the works of The Swiss. If you are, then the video above will - hopefully - bring a nostalgic smile to your deranged features. The tippy-toed dance of Don't Meditate In Such a Way was the band's hallmark. They would labour for hours over some of the most intense, uncompromising and mildly irritating music that could be created, unleash it on an unsuspecting public and, coup de grace delivered, would stand back and gauge the punters' reaction.
"I like the funny dance you do in that funny song", was far and away the most common comment on our work.
We (for it was a band comprising Stewart Ford, Nigel Savage, Gareth Hamer and me) didn't mind though. The band was envisaged as an antidote to the shoe gazing, self-important and largely humourless music scene we'd all had more than our fair share of. We were serious about our music but had problems taking ourselves seriously. You've got to enjoy yourself haven't you?
The Swiss, alas, are no more. Or are they? You can never tell with The Swiss; often no gigs happen for years at a stretch, and then, for reasons that are unknowable, suddenly a couple will come along at once. However, Stew Ford, the main song writing force of the band is so utterly and unstoppably prolific that it is not long before more of his musical world leaks out into the open. He has recently released a record of his own songs entitled Silence Is Golden. It is a brilliantly intricate work that is very different from the apocalyptic sound of The Swiss; guitars are bell-like rather than guttural, rhythms dance rather than stampede. You can recognise the Stewness though: guitar and bass parts woven together that, if untwined, would make no sense on their own, time signatures that are so devilishly complicated it's best not to think about them too hard.
Though think about them I must. Stew is playing some of the songs off Silence Is Golden, and despite his immense, multi-instrumental talents, needs people to play the bits he hasn't got enough hands for. So he asked some old Swissmen and Robin Mitchell - a trusted friend of the band and massively talented musician in his own right - to help him out. This means that I've been doing a lot of counting to eleven recently...
Tightrope.mp3 by Stewart Ford
...and trying to replicate the mid-range growl of a Ford bassline. Not easy, I can tell you. But refreshing to play music that challenges and makes me think.
The gig is at St. Paul's church, Coronation Road in Bedminster on Saturday 18th September. I think it starts at 6.30pm. Do come and help me count to eleven.
And, following the ancient Swiss custom when departing, I leave you with this: