Hanrahan's latest exercise in Rumba-flavoured jazz excellence leaves our writer...
Paul Bennun 2007-08-31
You can't write about this astonishing record without writing from within its world. Great music demands that, even if the task is impossible.
Milton Cordona - one of the world's best percussionists - is on this record. So above, so below: just as with Cardona, when you think you understand this music you quickly find that you don't. The more you listen the more simple songs become complex, and vice versa. So it’s the classic creeper. It starts out compelling; demanding repeated listening but frankly difficult. No… not-easy. Before you know it it's joined the canon of your favourite unkillable music. I'd have the implant.
So how does it, you know, sound? The art department of New York, Cuba and New Orleans, via Glasgow, Essouira and Palestine. Somewhere hot, that still understands the Northern winter. If you like jazz you'll understand the idiom - and if you like the best electronic music you'll also understand the idiom even though there's no obvious electronics. Rumba, not as a tourist attraction, but as a way of communicating with your city-bound brothers and sisters and your millennia-dead ancestors.
Beautiful Scars is also a very, very sexy record. To engage Kip-speak, what I mean is: it's not bedroom music or an aide de seduction... Actually one can't - on the BBC website - describe the specific tastes, pressure, use of tongues and the subsequent intrinsic angers, joys, regrets and delusions derived, which this record cannot help but embody. This is exactly what the record is about.
That, and politics. The politics of global capital and exploitation. Not in your face, but because that's what the world itself is about and only a miniscule amount of musicians take it on. I mean, really take it on. Aficionados of Hanrahan's music will recognise this; even they will be surprised at how good this music is. You ask: how can this be so fresh? How can it make you see the world as if through the jangled, elated-but-weepy psyche of a world-class hangover, or PMT on the perfect summer's day? As the record says, a day when everything is in its perfect place but bosses still screw their subordinates and lovers go home unfulfilled? Tangled. Difficult. Exquisitely beautiful.