One of my favorite imaginary places where I would like to spend an afternoon or two is the flat on Syd Barrett’s The Madcap Laughs cover. There’s something hypnotic about that orange blue striped floor, the huge emptiness ready to receive Syd’s insane ramblings. The room feels part lonely, part content with its emptiness, in itself an allegorical space for Syd’s mental state at the time, but also open to become a metaphor for whatever you like. And if the pure insanity of Syd’s debut is a bit much, but the craving for a solitary fascination with the space you are in still exists, there’s always Cate le Bon for you.
While not as far out as Barrett, le Bon’s music also seems to fixate on details which are within arms reach. Her songs look around the small space you are curled up in, but in no negative way whatsoever. She seems to revel in the sunny side of solitude even admitting that her songs have an abnormal fixation with happiness. All the figures that she seems to talk to seem products of this trance like state of joyful loneliness in a small, empty space which evades claustrophobic pressure by stimulating fixation on small details within your mind. It’s like you are always close to the walls and you stare at them infinitely, but they never get boring because of the endlessly fascinating ridges and bumps of the wallpaper.
Her 2009 debut album Me Oh My shows le Bon singing in both English and her native Welsh and is more of a folk effort with her soothing voice not yet exuding the content boredom that is to come. It’s Not the End and Oh Am Gariad are beautiful acoustic ballads, but what is more interesting is the electric side of the record, songs like Hollow Trees House Hounds where comparisons to Nico, while easy and unimaginative, work very well. Her following two releases, 2012’s Cyrk and 2013’s Mug Museum follow this thread of blasé late ’70s New York but with a surprisingly efficient upbeat twist. Songs like Are You With Me Now or Mirror Me have the spaced out, wide eyed monotony of The Velvet Underground and Nico or Deserthore but without the sinister, funereal overtones, instead opting for a bit o silliness.
And going even deeper into the silly lightheartedness and dry imaginative trips is her latest project Drinks, which she formed together with Tim Presley, Californian psych rock guitarist who records under the name White Fence. After repeatedly touring together, the two decided to start a project together, and after hearing the first single Hermits on Holiday we should forever be grateful. The album will be released in August, which means we barely have enough time to get tired of listening to Hermits on Holiday on endless repeat.