Image: Agnes Martin
Music for Evenings - Young Marble Giants
The collected Singles and Salad Days appended to the latest reissue of Colossal Youth (Amazon) contains a bunch of instrumental demos and outtakes that are at once repudiation, consequence and qualitative exception to their era. More graphically linear than multi-dimensionally geometric, tracks like "Posed by Models" are fine drawings in their own right as well as elegant sketches of the might-have-been. Even Young Marble Giants' fleshed out (it's relative) songs with vox can be studies in abstraction. In "Music for Evenings," a groove, a few flicks of melody and Alison Statton's grey tempera-washed voice delineate a flattened aural canvas. And its title implies the labor of making Music and flags the song's songness, pointing at Evening's stranded position between art and consumable good.* Not to mention the spare guitar work that sounds like it's writing drafts for a performance of a song called "Music for Evenings." It's a calculated, even overintellectualized music. Yet Evenings, and really, most of YMG's work, has a strange beauty and an austere kind of warmth. It's the small-thumped pulse of a greyhound or Agnes Martins' sublime inquiries into absence and presence.
*To be fair, if you listen to the song's lyrics, the title can assume a different, more mundane meaning. Though I'm happy to interpret such lines as Don't come here with your wallet as ideological, not personal protests. Either way, as cultural critique, it's a quiet one.
I'm extremely sorry to see Stylus go. Some fine writing about music (and film) went on over there.