Critical Best – Enneract
Time is something everyone is obsessed with either consciously or subconsciously. Art is full of great examples of this infatuation. Let’s look at the opening couplet from Lonnie Johnson’s nineteen forty-seven hit ‘Tomorrow Night’: ‘Tomorrow night, will you remember what you said tonight? Tomorrow night, will all the thrills be gone?’ Now think about the complexity around the sense of time Johnson uses in this couplet. He is asking in the present if in the future if his sweetheart will remember how she feels in the present. Yeah – if only modern pop songs could provoke such mind swirling thoughts. Not only does Critical Best hint and acknowledge the strength of time on the human psyche he marries and courts it proudly within his LP ‘Enneract’.
That sense of shifting time is a pinning point in this album and it often boils over on certain tracks. Let’s look at ‘Arundel Tomb’. The lyrics in this piece are taken from Philip Larkin’s poem ‘An Arundel Tomb’. The poem tells us of time passing over tombs. Now the vocal in the track is obscured by effects throughout but the last line is brought to the forefront at the end of the piece: ‘What will survive of us is love.’ Heavy stuff for an album that is ninety nine percent instrumental. That is the only clear thing Critical Best wanted to communicate to us in the English language the whole thirty six minutes and thirty seven seconds of his musical discourse. So he is telling us that when time has eliminated our memories all that remains is love.
The album actually starts with time manipulation. Oh no what is this shit is the first thing that comes to mind when it starts? ‘Phossy Jaw’ commences and I find myself in a Berlin techno bar surrounded by German weightlifters wearing homoerotic leather lederhosen. Get me out of here. Then I notice why I came here. One minute thirty into the first track Critical Best manipulates the sound and slows the tempo of the track and all comfort of sense of place and time evaporates and we are given an audio vision of a shemale breast feeding an albino giraffe. Yeah – what the fuck? I swear to God that sums up exactly what happens in this track. Then a waitress wearing a Barrack Obama mask comes round and offers me some strange looking pills. It can’t get any worse – I down the whole lot.
The pills kick in – I see De Niro in the opium den scene from ‘Once upon a time in America’. He asks me what I’m doing here. I ask him the same thing. We smile and zone out listening to ‘Manxome’. Time comes for me to leave – I ask for my coat. Throughout the album you feel an uneasy sense of being here before. The audio transports you back in time to personal memories and scenes in movies. In the title track on the album a memory of standing in a doorway in New York avoiding the rain is provoked. The thing is I have never been to New York. The visual strength of these pieces is so strong that when it is juxtaposed with the consciousness of time it is a wicked heady combination.
Tomorrow night, will you remember what you said tonight?
Tomorrow night, will all the thrills be gone?
Tomorrow night, will it be just another memory?
Or just another lovely song that's in my heart to linger on?
- The Importance Of Birds
Further discussion of this artist and album can be found HERE.