If it ain’t broke don’t fix it;
so go find someone who can tell you if it’s broke,
’cause it might need fixing.
Time heals all wounds
that can heal.
My baby had their 8 week vaccinations recently, and their mum was AWOL, well that’s not true–she had pre-planned many months previously to be away–at a spa evening (banter points: Dad) and we knew beforehand that this meant one of two things: extra sleep, or extra tears.
The vaccinations in question? Here in the UK the NHS gives a real cocktail of wallop: the 6-in-1 diphtheria; tetanus; whooping cough (pertussis); polio; Haemophilus influenzae type b, another for pneumococcal (PCV), another for rotavirus, and finally meningitis B. I’m totally for vaccinations, after all these guys are scientists.
I was working from home (can’t complain) but started early in the day and worked through lunch to be around earlier, and fortunately didn’t have to witness the injections themselves–which apparently were heartbreaking.
Baby was OK to begin with, was behaving fairly normally, and then sometime in the late afternoon it all just kicked and they wouldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t put them past vertical unless they were leaning forwards on me.
But then something wonderful happened, it all just occurred to me that they weren’t just trying to get into a comfortable position, or needing winding, or needing nappy changing, it was that they wanted to feel safe and secure because they were feeling so mixed up inside. Wow, it sort of just hadn’t occurred to me that this was going to be one of my roles. I don’t know why, I guess it makes so much sense…. but I didn’t think of it. So having him utterly unwilling to be put down for six hours was a lesson for me that this little human trusts me, and wants to know things are OK in a time of crisis. Shit! What a thing…. this was definitely the first time I felt like more than just a nappy/milk/wind/sleep/stimulation servant, and instead like a … well … a parent.
We all suffer from a little bit of unconscious bias, you know–and we’ve just got to accept that, not try and pretend that we don’t. We’re at the stage now where we need to just accept it and let’s look at how we can try and identify it and then work with it.
Chi-chi Nwanoku’s Desert Island Discs
Renu’s journey into the conflict between the head, the heart and the crotch. Hmmm, that’s a weird thing to say, right? Well… no it is, it’s weird–but I never let that stop me from saying whatever’s in my head.
Fierce in her beliefs and true to her art, if Renu’s released a new album it’s because she’s damn well ready to release a new album, and has planted her vision as fully as is possible.
It makes me smile to identify footprints audible in Midnight Radio that she has left throughout They Dance in the Dark. There’s much of that DNA in Queen of Heaven, and I love that–in the delay on Always You–in the spoken word. Water into Words is a good example of what I like about Renu’s style of composition, she puts as much effort into choreographing the slides from section to section as she does in the chorus.
When the EDM vibe is absent, the style is born from geo-political experimentation with a European, straight-edged bass and drum ensemble core and an arabic folk-twist with some beautiful vocals.
Always You got deserved playtime on 6 Music, and also is a proper good EDM tune. Sern Nos is what this album is about, it’s got the barebone, archetypal soul of this album. Throughout the album is a scattering of electronic phrases from the ages, vocal padding as in Chicane’s trance classic Saltwater, drums bit-squashed like IDM from the turn of the millenium in Raised Heavy with that disjointed cerebral IDM drum pattern. Even some guitar tone/effect akin to Radiohead in To the Mountain and Linkin Park in Raised Heavy.
Renu is exceptional at producing with vocal layers. She handles delicate, cracking and ‘overtonal’ sonic qualities as well as anyone I’ve heard.
When Renu gets outspoken with her production is where she seems to shine the most in the more EDM of the tracks on They Dance in the Dark. ‘Salma…’ is throbbing with modulating lead synth. She shouldn’t shy away from pushing her sonic statements right to the top of the envelope. Occasionally I find it isn’t mixed to the kind of limits like I’d want, 1984 for example. Therein lies that conflict between the head, heart and crotch
*Must stop saying crotch, it’s becoming a thing*
In contrast, Queen of Heaven is unmistakeable in its intent and comes right from the crotch, but as Santana points out, you play with your head, heart, soul, god (I think?), and your ‘kahunas’.
Queen of Heaven rings with Renu’s signature string layers which don’t sit smugly, instead they speak with a pseudo-improvisation–an organic dynamism that permeated Midnight Radio. At a point the pace is allowed to drop before all the instrumentation comes back together, as orbiting particles, never quite getting away until they unite back in the groove. I could wax lyrical for ages about Renu’s ability to be understated and therefore say so much. It’s wonderful to listen to.
Now, I really like Boys and that slightly worries me, not for the obvious pun, but because on an album that’s described with as much gender politics as this is, I sort of worry there’s a hidden musical extended-metaphor. Am I reinforcing the mysognistic imbalance? Am I being subversively objectified? Am I patriarchy’s misguided flâneur? Is this white guilt? OK, I exaggerate…
‘Boys’ is a great finisher and ups the pace right at the end, with some awesome Bernard Hermann style strings. And with that, it is almost as though we’ve journeyed from the intro EDM of Always You on into Renu’s head and on into her heart and now we’re coming out from a deep dive, back to the dance floor where we’ll eventually be asked to kindly leave, with some disco synth and 4/4 kick.
Good fucking shit.
Renu’s They Dance in the Dark: https://renu-holykutirecords.bandcamp.com/album/they-dance-in-the-dark-2