Over the years those familiar with the musical output of Troy Southgate with Seelenlicht, and Horologium would have experienced his lengthy spoken word passages with over perhaps some of the most warm, and dramatic string and timpani arrangements held buoyantly aloft by textures that are at times dense and at others minimal, all of that instrumentation has been left behind, and new territories are being ventured into.
Put out by Santos Productions, an independent label out of Italy, this cassette is an entirely different arena of sound experimentation for Southgate, gone are the strings from Sagittarius and H.E.R.R. there isn’t a shimmer of anything remotely resembling neofolk or neoclassical, instead we are met with a stripped-down gritty affair, with a release that has more of a kinship with the minimal industrial of the early eighties and nineties, with its focus on exploring the terrain of low-fi beats and minimalist rhythms, which at times gives a healthy nod to dub. The audio palette is sparse and uncluttered, and compliment the lyrics. Troy Southgate’s spoken word is accompanied by an audial backdrop of low-end heavy bass and spansive electronic noodling. Bass that is felt in the pit of your stomach.
Streets of London is the type of song that can be adapted for any age provided the sentiment is retained, and it is. Covered by many, but originally made famous by Ralph McTell , Streets of London is a a first-hand observation on despair in addition to being a social commentary on the dispossessed and desperate. Although this version of the song retains the same mood and tone as the original, the lyrical content has been changed and updated in order to reflect contemporary scenes and situations that have become far too familiar sights and occurrences for those living in the city.
“Chip wrappers, dancing in the wind like flags of surrender, are streaked through with pram tracks, as a bawling inhabitant is shoved along by a teenage mother on Brixton crack and State benefit. Her pursed lips and scrowling face carved in the tough backstreets of a council estate, old before their time and flanked by hooped earrings and a pink mobile phone. No education. No sense. No future. ”
The lyrical themes are an observation on the state of things, be it the Americanisation of Japan, and the UK, or how one of the proponents of social housing is probably rolling in his grave at the state of social housing in the UK, either way these are observations with no solutions being presented.
An applaud is in order though, for a musician, lyricist or any other creative person to try something new can be a challenge for sure, but when it is met with professionalism and artistry, then the change is a welcome one.
Lyrics are presented by permission of Troy Southgate.
The Lyrics for Warrior’s Reward are from Tradition and Revolution: Collected Writings of Troy Southgate
Streets of London
Come with me. Let me lead you through the dark alleyways of old London, where the rats and urban foxes battle it out over putrid scraps of shish kebab. And where filth-ridden pigeons nibble at choice morsels in a technicolour puddle of vomit and bile. Chip wrappers, dancing in the wind like flags of surrender, are streaked through with pram tracks, as a bawling inhabitant is shoved along by a teenage mother on Brixton crack and State benefit. Her pursed lips and scrowling face carved in the tough backstreets of a council estate, old before their time and flanked by hooped earrings and a pink mobile phone.
No education. No sense. No future. The doorways are littered with mouldy sleeping bags, as life stirs among wet blankets and scraps of cardboard. The psychos and the drug addicts nestle together like pieces of human refuse, waiting to die in an unsympathetic expression of biological garbage. A living tangle of inadvertent Dadaism. Unwanted sludge on the heel of a passer-by, far too busy to notice the flotsam and jetsam that has sunk right down to the very bottom of the septic tank that is modern society.
The City. A bastion of materialism where misery reigns supreme on a gilded throne of opulence and greed. Where degradation flirts with hopelessness and wealthy businessmen, with piggy eyes and sweaty palms, thrust knives of steel into the heart of a local community. Drugs and alcohol are the only escape from the madness of day to day living, where teenage girls have to sell their own bodies in order to survive. Hamburger cartons litter the streets where the homeless beg for money beside concrete playgrounds full of brainwashed children. Meanwhile, the oldest of the city-dwellers sit huddled and afraid. Too scared to venture out in case they are attacked or robbed by a nihilistic youth element. Preferring to die of hyperthermia in a rabbit hutch that has no central heating. The small trader struggles to survive as the monopolies gradually wear him down, day by day, hour by hour. Roving bands of youths, bored and frustrated, vent their fury on the property of others. Graffitti is scrawled on any available space, as though the city were a giant scrapbook in which to express the idle thoughts of a lost generation.
Nothing artistic. Nothing cultural. Just the worthless outpourings of an inferior mind where imagination and creativity – if they were ever present in the first place – are pushed aside by an imported American lifestyle. The polluted river, where fish once swam and thrived in plenty, has become like congealed jelly, full of chemical waste, used condoms and bobbing layers of thick scum. Row upon row of overcrowded tower blocks – where the closest identification with nature is found on a television screen or in a goldfish bowl – overlook hordes of pin-striped conformists, working nine to five before returning to the suburban shoe-boxes from whence they came like obedient termites. A brick chimney stack blots the skyline. Here, the workers are controlled and exploited for a pittance by a smug man with a parasitical personality who puffs on fat cigars and drinks perrier water. As the atmosphere is choked by streams of billowing smoke, the grey clouds gather like vultures and the acid rain begins to fall to earth. Miniature droplets creating their own liquid Hiroshima. Crouched beside the tell-tale green of an eroded statue, the ghost of Henry Mayhew is scribbling down his thoughts on remarkably preserved scraps of Victorian notepaper. Like a silent observer, he is here to witness … the end of an age.
A deep-red sun sinks beneath the distant parapet and Japan’s glorious past is now hidden from view. Its fiery glare now a stolen relic, a trophy of war on some distant mantlepiece. Perhaps never to see, and never to be, the light of day again. Darkness envelops the land and gone are the Imperial footsoldiers that once gave their lives for the Emperor. Some as Kamikaze pilots and human torpedos, others with razor-sharp swords in gleaming helmets and layers of impenetrable armour. Faces stern and bodies hard and uncompromising. Enola Gay has left the skies and the mushroom clouds have long dispersed. Women unwittingly harbour that deadly cargo inside their wombs and each new generation bears Harry Truman’s radioactive hallmarks. But none so corrupting as the poisonous haze of liberalism.
Whilst the legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki assail the body, Americanisation now attacks the soul. Japanese men, their heroism replaced with a simpering effeminacy and cultural transience, now swarm around the Tokyo Stock Exchange like regimented termites. Docile, westernised and uniformly obedient, these castrated males have been cut adrift from the roots that once bound them to the Far Eastern soil of their Motherland. The Japanese have become camera-snapping tourists in the lands of their masters; eternal pranksters who know nothing of war and honour. But among the ashes of defeat there stirs a new awakening, men inspired by the deeds of Yukio Mishima. Men that will shape the future, on the principles of the past. The flame still burns and the Tradition will never die.
01 Nove Code – Mishima
02 Nove Code – The Warrior’s Reward
03 Erich Zahn – Acid Rain
04 Erich Zahn – Streets of London